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Green Growth: historic Austin area landscaping
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Town Lake
Recommended to the City Council by the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Town Lake Beautification Project was to be the City's gift to the country's Bicentennial Celebrations in 1976.

The campaign was spearheaded by Ladybird Johnson, who was one of the most publicized supporters of environmental beautification in the country. Using the same polished shovel she had been presented in a 1965 Arbor Day ceremony, Mrs. Johnson kicked off the campaign by planting several crepe myrtle trees at Vista Point, a site near Town Lake at the First Street Bridge.

By the end of 1975, the Town Lake Beautification Project received two awards of statewide and national significance. The state award was for the site at Lou Neff Point and the national award was for special merit in the field of outdoor recreation and was presented by the National Trail Systems, highlighting hike-and-bike trails throughout the United States.

New fishing points, trail development, roads, parking facilities and rest areas in the Festival Beach area were only a few of the many improvements made with $2.5 million in bond money approved by the voters for the 1975-1977 Capital Improvement Project. Together these funds would provide: a playscape on Town Lake in the east Austin area, irrigation, rest rooms and additional picnic facilities, special landscaping work, trail extensions, a pedestrian bridge at Waller Creek as well as numerous improvements at Fiesta Gardens. Tree varieties planted along Town Lake included: Spanish Oak, Live Oak, Redbud, Crepe Myrtle, Weeping Willow, Bald Cypress, Yaupon Holly, Pecan, Chinese Tallow and Golden Rain Trees.

Photograph of gazebo at Town Lake with river in background Presented to the City of Austin "for the enjoyment of all the people of Austin," the gazebo at Town Lake represents a four and half year commitment by the Austin Chapter of Women in Construction. The project, begun in 1967 and dedicated in 1970, was intended to serve as a "lasting tribute to the construction industry" and to spawn other beautification projects along Town Lake. The structure was designed by Sterry Nill, Jr., to match the architecture of the nearby Municipal Auditorium and to blend with the beauty of Town Lake.
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Photograph showing Ladybird Johnson at gazebo at Town Lake Proposed by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and approved by the City Council, the network of trails along Town Lake and its main tributaries were designated as the "Ladybird Johnson Trail System." A Trail and Waterway Development Fund was created by the Advisory Board to provide for the continuation of efforts started by the Town Lake Beautification Committee.
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Photograph of gazebo at Lou Neff Point Selected as the best example of Texas Public Architecture by the Texas Society of Landscape Architects for 1975, Lou Neff Point was named for civic and social leader Lou Neff. The gazebo is built on the promontory where Barton Creek flows into Town Lake providing a view of downtown Austin from the south side of Town Lake. Mrs. Neff, who was a member of the Natural Science Center Guild and the Town Lake Beautification Committee, was named one of the Outstanding Women of Austin by the Austin American-Statesman in 1971.
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The French Legation
Built in 1840 of Bastrop pine by Alphonse Dubois de Saligny, Chargé d'Affaires from France to the Republic of Texas, the white frame house at 802 San Marcos was called the French Embassy although the Republic did not rate an embassy. Resting on a two and one-half acre tract of land, the French Legation is said to be the only building ever erected by a foreign government in Texas, and is only one of two ever built in the United States.

Photograph of manicured hedges on grounds of French Legation Museum Overgrown with shrubs and flowers--many of which were likely descendants of plants from France--the home was rescued by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) in the 1940s. The French Legation now serves as a museum and is operated by the DRT.
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