Barton Springs, page 3
Park is often called 'the Central Park of Texas'. It is less than
half the size of Central Park but has more acres per person. New
York's Central Park is 843 acres but 20 million people use it every
year. Zilker Park is 485 acres and only one million people use it
annually. Zilker Park was recently added to the National Register
of Historic Places in recognition of its architecture and historical
significance. The park has a playground, nine soccer fields (which
used to be spinach fields), one rugby field, two multiuse fields,
and a nine-hole disc golf course. Numerous picnic areas dot the
park. Two historic log structures, the Esperanza Schoolhouse
and a Swedish Cabin, can be seen in the Botanical Garden.
Both structures were moved from outside of Austin.
Zilker Park even has a fallout shelter, a relic from the 1950s.
The park is the site of numerous baptisms, weddings, and memorial
services. The Zilker Clubhouse was originally the Boy Scout
lodge and is now used for community functions.
The sixty-acre Botanical Garden has a series of trails of
flowers and succulents, a Japanese garden, a butterfly garden, and
the Mabel Davis Rose Garden. The Garden is home to many indigenous
plants and animals. Tours of the Garden are offered every Saturday
between May and Thanksgiving.
For some old-fashioned
fun take a ride on the Zilker Zephyr, a three-mile miniature
train ride. For almost fifty years the Zephyr, formerly known as
the Eagle, has been chugging around the park. The train was privately
owned for much of its history by attorney Charlie Beall and wife
Carlene. They contract with the city but own the tracks, train,
and ticket booth. There has been only one accident in all these
years when the brakes failed and a passenger jumped out in fear.
The train only goes eight miles per hour. Rides are available year-round,
weather permitting, from 10:00 A.M. to dusk. Souvenirs are available.
Hillside Theatre was developed by Beverly Sheffield, who selected
the site. The theater has recently been renamed for him. Originally,
the theater was just a tiny stage with a trellis of moonflowers
blooming at night. Today, it thrives and hosts Shakespearean plays,
jazz concerts, and Broadway musicals during the summer. Attendees
are encouraged to bring a picnic.
Austin Nature Center is a sanctuary for raccoons, foxes,
deer, and many other animals. Located within Zilker Park at 301
Nature Center Drive, the Nature Center features exhibits on science,
natural history and botany. The most interesting feature is over
one hundred dinosaur tracks which are estimated to be 99 million
years old. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Recreation Center is especially designed to serve individuals
with disabilities. The center has programs throughout the year,
and visitors can use the multipurpose room, kitchen, computers,
and picnic areas, or take part in crafts and games.
Sheffield Education Center/Splash! Into the Edwards Aquifer is
an interactive exhibit about the geology and biology of the Edwards
Aquifer. Learn about the habitat of the Barton Springs salamander,
how watersheds and aquifers work, and more.
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