The Lone Star Showdown
Senator William Blakely once said, “Texas is neither southern nor western. Texas is Texas.” Although this well-stated quote exemplifies the pride that Texans have for their home state, the blanket proclamation is one that fails to distinguish the unique characteristics found in nearly every region of the Lone Star state. A quote that offers a much more accurate description and distinguishes the diversity of each region was made by the professional golfer Lee Trevino when he stated, “If you’ve ever driven across Texas, you know how different one area of the state can be from another. Take El Paso. It looks as much like Dallas as I look like Jack Nicklaus.” The quote is a metaphor that juxtaposes the characteristics shared between El Paso and Dallas to the physical similarities shared between Jack Nicklaus, one of the most successful golfers of all time, and Lee Trevino, a highly decorated Mexican-American golfer. Now, more than ever, there are growing numbers of differences between each region in Texas than there are similarities. Two such regions that have undoubtedly diverged from their common ancestry are the Dallas-Fort Worth “Metroplex” area and the Austin “Hill Country” region. From sports and transportation, to leisure activities and geography, each area boasts its own culture that is neither superior nor lesser to its Lone Star counterpart.
In 2011, the official U.S. Census ranked the Metroplex as the largest metropolitan area in the south. The expanse, which also accounts for Plano, Irving, Arlington, as well as a range of other small cities, is estimated to encompass over 6.5 million residents, each contributing to the unique culture of the expansive territory. The region is distinctive in that majority of the land is categorized as blackland prairie, with elevations ranging from 450 feet to 550 feet above sea level. Also, the Metroplex is located in a humid subtropical climate zone that is characterized by hot, humid summers and mild to cool winters. It is undoubtedly true when residents of the DFW area say “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait five minutes and it’ll change.” Among the many other unique aspects of the Metroplex is the area’s strong connection with its professional sports
teams. The region serves as a home to several professional organizations, including the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars, and FC Dallas. This provides a year-round charged atmosphere perfect for the sports fanatic wanting to get out of the house to experience live-action sports. Although the area also serves as a home to four Division-I college athletic teams (SMU, TCU, UNT, UT Arlington), there is no doubt that the professional teams in the region reign supreme. Aside from sports, the Metroplex region has also earned a reputation for entertaining some of the world’s most famous museums, shopping venues, and theme parks. From the Kimbell Art Museum’s vast collection of Monet, Picasso, and Rembrandt paintings to the historic Sixth Floor Museum, the Metroplex is at no shortage when it comes to art and history. Additionally, the DFW area affirms its place amongst large tourist cities with an assortment of amusement parks. Six Flags Over Texas, a theme park founded in 1961, houses over twelve roller coasters, while Six Flags Hurricane Harbor vaunts over 25 water slides and attractions. Finally, the Metroplex area has established a selection of over seventeen shopping malls, which are family-favorite destinations on hot summer and dreary winter days. With the Metroplex area spanning approximately 9,286 sq. miles, traveling to and from the abovementioned destinations is certainly a challenge. Although there are public transportation options such as the D.A.R.T. rail system, it is safe to say that the majority of residents and visitors commute by way of private automobiles.
Although many similarities can be drawn between the Austin and DFW areas, residents of both regions will be quick to point out the many differences that naturally and artificially exist between the two. One such natural difference that is apparent just by driving around both cities can be seen in the geography. Nestled into the edge of the “Texas Hill Country” region, Austin is strategically incorporated within a vast collection of rivers, hills, cliffs, and lakes. The Balcones Fault splits the city into two regions, which creates a distinct separation of soil in the area. The eastern portion of the city sits on a dark clay-based soil, while the western border of the city is primarily composed of a limestone/loose soil
mixture. In addition to the natural differences in soil composition, Austin also sits inside the boundaries of four ecological zones. These zones include Texas Blackland Prairies, East Central Texas Plains, Cross Timbers, and Edwards Plateau. Consequently, the weather in the Hill Country can fluctuate drastically between tropical heat to dry desert.
The second difference that many “Austinites” are quick to emphasize is the city’s absence of a professional sports team. The lack of any “pro” teams within the city’s boundaries means that the majority of the 842,592 residents root for the University of Texas Longhorns or Round Rock Express. During the fall and winter seasons, college football becomes “a way of life”, occupying nearly every sports bar, resturaunt, and tailgate in the city. During the spring and summer months, fans flock north to Round Rock, a growing suburb of Austin, to catch minor league baseball games.
What Austin lacks in professional sports, it makes up in leisure activities, festivals, nightlife, and live music. The most notable events that occur on an annual basis include Austin City Limits, South-by-Southwest, FUN FUN FUN Fest, the Zilker Kite Festival, and the Trail of Lights. Each year, millions flock to the city to explore what is quickly becoming a tourist “hot spot.” In addition to festivals, Austin is also known for its vibrant nightlife. Each weekend, students, tourists and partygoers assemble at one of the most unique bar scenes in the south: 6th Street. The multi-block collection of saloons, clubs and eateries is often so busy, that city officials have to barricade off entire sections to prevent cars from entering the area. This atmosphere is a stark contrast from the daytime attractions the city has to offer, which includes an array of hiking trails, bike routes, and swimming holes.
One of the most unique aspects of Austin is how welcoming the city is to public transportation commuters, bikers, and walkers. Unlike Dallas, it is quite common to see large groups of people walking around at all times of the day and night. The city provides an extensive network of bus and train routes for those wanting to take public transportation and employers throughout the area encourage public transportation by reimbursing employees
that choose to take the eco-friendly option.
Over the years, Texas has undoubtedly become one the most popular states in the country to move to. In addition to the relatively low cost of living, the state has also proven itself to be a melting pot of ideas and cultures. From the rolling hills and endless streams of the “live music capital”, to the roaring cheers and priceless exhibits of “Big D”, Texas offers something for everyone in one way or another.