Austin Texas Neighborhood Profiles : Clarksville

By: Ki Gray

The West Austin area of Clarksville was originally a freedman's colony for slaves freed after the Civil War. It now has a very diverse population, and this diversity is reflected in the various nationalities of the residents. There is an excellent public grade school in Clarksville, named Mathews Elementary.

Every fall, Mathews holds a carnival on the grounds, which includes the Clarksville Annual International Dinner and the Octoborama Festival, which is held at the end of October. During Octoberama, local musicians, many of whom are the parents or relatives of Mathews School students, perform at the carnival. Also, most of the kids bring large quantities of food to be sold at the International Dinner, to reflect the cuisine of the countries of their origin.

Since most of the University of Texas Division of Housing apartment complexes are located in the West Austin area, and the grade school children residing there with their parents attend Mathews, many ethnicities and heritages are represented at the dinner, including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mexican, and various African and other nationalities. While at the Octoberama Festival, you can hear local musicians, sample all kinds of homemade food, watch contests such as two-legged races and relay races, and enjoy juggling and face-painting, which all of the kids love.

Right down the street from the school is another Austin legend, Nau's pharmacy, which has one of the oldest soda fountains in Austin. You can have eggs for breakfast or a shake after school at Nau's, and then head down to the 9th Street dog park.

There are many good restaurants in the Clarksville area, and this area is a short bus ride or long walk to Lady Bird Lake, and the jogging trails, or you can go downtown by bus or on the sidewalk, just a mile or so in the other direction. There are also a number of historic homes in the area, including a home referred to by the children as "the Castle", since it looks just like a medieval castle, but which was originally a military college building.

There is also a "Moonlight Tower", another local landmark, in the area of the Castle. Austin and Clarksville are home to many local politicians and well-known Austinites. Ann Richards was a regular at the drug store soda fountain, and most Hollywood celebrities visit the restaurants when in Austin.

The Johnson Creek Hike and Bike Trail skirts the western edge of Clarksville, and winds along under the Loop One freeway, also called the MoPac for the Missouri Pacific rail line which runs directly alongside the freeway. You can walk, ride a bike, or jog up and down the hike and bike trail, which crosses Johnson Creek in one place and begins at Austin High School, on the northern shore of Lady Bird Lake.

From the Austin High School access point to the trails, You can cross the lake, which is actually the Colorado River, and hike through Zilker Park or swim in Barton Springs, or go north, and once past Clarksville, you eventually wind up in the Brykerwoods area, if you go south you can head down to the Barton Hills and Travis Heights.

Clarksville is also home to various arts and crafts establishments, and the yearly Eeyore's Birthday Party Celebration, another fun local event, which is held in Pease Park, on the north-eastern perimeter of the Clarksville area. All in all, The Clarksviile area of Austin is truly a great place to live, whether you're raising a family, a student, retired, or any one of the varied lifestyles which flourish in Austin. You will always feel at home in Clarksville.

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