Main Births etc
San Marcos, Texas
—  City  —
The Hays County Courthouse, in June 2010.
Official seal of San Marcos, Texas
Nickname(s): San Marvelous
Coordinates: 29°52′46″N 97°56′20″W / 29.87944, -97.93889Coordinates: 29°52′46″N 97°56′20″W / 29.87944, -97.93889
Country  United States of America
State  Texas
Counties Caldwell, Guadalupe, Hays
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Mayor Daniel Guerrero[1]
Lisa Prewitt
Jude Prather
John Thomaides
Wayne Becak
Ryan Thomason
Shane Scott
 • City Manager Jim Nuse
 • Total 18.2 sq mi (47.4 km2)
 • Land 18.2 sq mi (47.2 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)
Elevation 617 ft (188 m)
Population (2012)
 • Total 50,001 (US: 726th)
 • Density 1,907.5/sq mi (736.4/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 78666-78667
Area code(s) 512/737
FIPS code 48-65600
GNIS feature ID 1375971[2]

San Marcos is a city in the U.S. state of Texas, within the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan area. The city is located on the Interstate 35 corridor—between Austin and San Antonio—and is the seat of Hays County.[3] The population was 44,894 in 2010.

Founded on the banks of the San Marcos River, the area is considered to be among the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the Northern Hemisphere.[4] San Marcos is home to Texas State University, and the Aquarena Center.[5]

In 2010, San Marcos was listed in Business Week's fourth annual survey of the "Best Places to Raise your Kids."[6] In 2013, the United States Census Bureau named San Marcos the fastest-growing city in the United States.[7] In December 2013, San Marcos was named #9 on Business Insider's list of the "10 Most Exciting Small Cities In America."[8]


Archeologists have found evidence at the San Marcos River associated with the Clovis culture, which suggests that the river has been the site of human habitation for more than 10,000 years. The headwaters of the cool, clear river are the San Marcos Springs, fed by the Edwards Aquifer. The San Marcos Springs are the third largest collection of springs in Texas. Never in recorded history has the river run dry.

In 1689, Spaniard Alonso de Leon led an expedition from Mexico to explore Texas and establish missions and presidios in the region. De Leon's party helped blaze the Camino Real (later known as the Old San Antonio Road), which followed present-day Hunter Road, Hopkins Street, and Aquarena Springs Drive (the route later shifted four miles to the south; it is now followed by County Road 266, known locally as Old Bastrop Highway). De Leon's party reached the river on April 25, the feast day of St. Mark the Evangelist; the river was thus named the San Marcos.[4][9]

In January 1808, a small group of Mexican families settled at the Old Bastrop Highway crossing of the river, and named the settlement Villa de San Marcos de Neve.[10] The settlers were plagued by floods and Indian raids, and the settlement was abandoned in 1812.[11]

In November 1846 the first Anglos settled in the vicinity of the San Marcos Springs. The Texas Legislature organized Hays County on March 1, 1848, and designated San Marcos as the county seat. In 1851 a town center was laid out about a mile southwest of the headwaters of the river. The town became a center for ginning and milling local agricultural products. The town's most notable founder and early settler was Gen. Edward Burleson, a hero of the Texas Revolution and former vice president of the Republic of Texas. Burleson built a dam on the upper reaches of the river in 1849. The dam powered several mills, including one within present-day Sewell Park.

San Marcos in 1881

Old Main academic building at Texas State University, 2010

In the decade following the arrival of the International-Great Northern Railroad in 1881, cattle and cotton provided the basis for the growth of San Marcos as a center for commerce and transportation.

In 1899, Southwest Texas State Normal School (now known as Texas State University) was established as a teacher's college to meet demand for public school teachers in Texas. In 1907 the San Marcos Baptist Academy was established,[12] furthering education as an important industry for the town. The demands of World War II forced the town's industry to diversify, and with the emergence of a manufacturing and light industrial sector the town began to experience growth.

In the late 1940s, former Hollywood director Shadrack Graham produced a documentary about daily life in San Marcos as part of his “Our Home Town” series of films that encouraged commerce and civic activity in small communities. The film highlights several local businesses from the era, including Smith's Flowers, Waldrin's Cleaners, Lack's Furniture, and the Palace Movie Theater.[13]

Gary Air Force Base, just east of town, was opened in 1942 as San Marcos Army Air Field, renamed San Marcos Air Force Base in 1947, and renamed finally in 1953 in honor of Lieutenant Arthur Edward Gary, killed at Clark Field in the Philippines on December 7, 1941, the first San Marcan to die in World War II. During the war, the base trained over 10,000 navigators, and in the following years was the largest center of Air Force and Army helicopter training for pilots and mechanics in the United States, with 21 squadrons and 4800 personnel stationed there. The base was handed over to the Army in 1956, renamed Camp Gary, and was closed in 1963. Subsequently, part of the base was taken over by the city for use as San Marcos Airport, while another part was reopened in 1966 as the Gary Job Corps Center.[14]

In the 1960s, with the establishment of Aquarena Springs[15] and Wonder World[16] as attractions, the tourist industry became a growing part of the city's economy. By the 1960s what was then named Southwest Texas State University had grown into an important regional institution,[17] and when coupled with the creation of Gary Job Corps Training Center in 1965,[18] education became the largest industry in San Marcos.[19] The remarkable growth explosion of Austin further allowed San Marcos to prosper.

By 1973, San Marcos and Hays County were included by the U. S. Census Bureau in the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area.[20] By that year the city's population had grown to 25,000 citizens, along with an additional Southwest Texas State University student body of 20,000.

By 1990, the city's population had grown to 28,743, by 2000 it reached 34,733, and by 2010 it was 44,894. A report released by the U.S. Census Bureau in May, 2013 stated that San Marcos had the highest rate of growth among all U.S. cities and towns with at least 50,000 people. Its population rose 6.9 percent between 2011 and 2012.[21] The university, now known as Texas State University, boasts a student body of 34,225.[22]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1870 741
1880 1,232 66.3%
1890 2,335 89.5%
1900 2,292 −1.8%
1910 4,071 77.6%
1920 4,527 11.2%
1930 5,134 13.4%
1940 6,006 17.0%
1950 9,980 66.2%
1960 12,713 27.4%
1970 18,860 48.4%
1980 23,420 24.2%
1990 28,738 22.7%
2000 34,733 20.9%
2010 44,894 29.3%
Est. 2012 50,001 44.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[23]
2012 Estimate[24]

As of the census of 2010, the population was 44,894 people in the city. In the year 2000 there were 34,733 people, 12,660 households, and 5,380 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,907.5 people per square mile, (736.4/km2) in 2000. There were 13,340 housing units at an average density of 732.6 per square mile (282.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 72.55% White, 5.53% African American, 0.65% Native American, 1.23% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 17.03% from other races, and 2.90% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 36.50% of the population.

There were 12,660 households out of which 19.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.9% were married couples living together, 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 57.5% were non-families. 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the city the population was spread out with 15.4% under the age of 18, 41.9% from 18 to 24, 24.8% from 25 to 44, 10.7% from 45 to 64, and 7.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23 years. For every 100 females there were 96.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,809, and the median income for a family was $37,113. Males had a median income of $25,400 versus $22,953 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,468. About 13.8% of families and 28.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.1% of those under age 18 and 15.1% of those age 65 or over.


San Marcos is located in an area locally referred to as Central Texas. It is 29 miles southwest of Austin and 47 miles northeast of San Antonio. Interstate 35 is the main highway through the city. The city is situated on the Balcones Fault, the boundary between the Hill Country and the Coastal Plains. Along the fault, many springs emerge, such as San Marcos Springs, which form Spring Lake and is the source of the San Marcos River, a notable water feature. The eastern part of the city is blackland prairie suitable for farming; the western part consists of forested or grassy rolling hills, often marked with cacti.

The San Marcos River and the Blanco River, flow through the city, along with numerous creeks, including Cottonwood Creek, Purgatory Creek, Sink Creek, and Willow Springs Creek. Each of these rivers and creeks have parks and nature preserves with hiking trails along them.[25]

According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2010, the city had a total area of 30.22 square miles (78.269 km2).

San Marcos River[]

Downstream from the headwaters of the San Marcos Springs, Aquarena Springs, and Spring Lake.

The San Marcos River rises from the San Marcos Springs. The springs are home to several threatened or endangered species, including the Texas Blind Salamander, Fountain Darter, San Marcos gambusia, and Texas Wild Rice.

The river begins at San Marcos Springs, rising from the Edwards Aquifer into Spring Lake. Access to much of the headwaters is restricted due to the delicate ecosystem and numerous rare species. The upper river flows through Texas State University and San Marcos, and is a popular recreational area. It is joined by the Blanco River after four miles, passes through Luling and near Gonzales flows into the Guadalupe River after a total of 75 miles (121 km). This course is the first leg of the Texas Water Safari.


In addition to Texas State University and the San Marcos Baptist Academy, San Marcos is served by the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District. Gary Job Corps Center, the largest Job Corps center in the U.S.,[26] is located a few miles east of the center of town.

The Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State is one of the four extant body farms in the United States and the largest such forensics research facility in the world.[27]

San Marcos is also home to Aquarena Center,[5] the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment,[28] the San Marcos National Fish Hatchery and Aquatic Resource Center,[29] the A. E. Wood Texas Fish Hatchery,[30] the San Marcos Nature Center,[31] the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos.[32] and the Indigenous Cultures Institute.[33]


  • Capital Area Rural Transportation System
  • San Marcos Municipal Airport
  • San Marcos Station is served by Amtrak's Texas Eagle


In 2010, San Marcos was listed in Business Week's fourth annual survey of the "Best Places to Raise your Kids."[34] In 2013, the United States Census Bureau named San Marcos the fastest-growing large city in the United States.[35] In December 2013, San Marcos was named #9 on Business Insider's list of the "10 Most Exciting Small Cities In America."[36]

The river is a popular recreational area and is frequented for tubing, canoeing, swimming, and fishing by both residents and tourists. The Texas Water Safari starts in San Marcos on the first Saturday in June each year. Due in part to its natural beauty, the city was nicknamed "San Marvelous." The City of San Marcos references the nickname in its "Keep San Marcos Beautiful" campaign.[37]

The intersection of LBJ Drive and MLK Drive in San Marcos is thought to be the only place in the nation where streets named after both men meet. After years of planning, the City of San Marcos and the San Marcos Arts Commission broke ground in January 2013 on a commemorative sculpture that will sit at the intersection. Designed by Aaron P. Hussey, the sculpture will depict Johnson and King conversing in the Oval Office.[38][39]

The town center (referred to locally as "the square") was laid out in 1851. The Hays County Courthouse, which sits in the center, was built in 1908. The downtown area surrounding the courthouse is home to many of the city's bars, restaurants, boutiques, and music venues, making it a top entertainment destination. The Texas Music Theater, located directly across the street from the courthouse, hosted the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Lone Star Music Awards.[40][41]

For more than 20 years, the San Marcos Performing Arts Commission and the San Marcos Parks and Recreation Department have hosted the Summer in the Park concert series with live music at an outdoor venue every Thursday night from June to August.[42][43] Contributing to the music scene in San Marcos, Texas State University hosts the Hill Country Jazz Festival and Eddie Durham Celebration annually.[44] KTSW, the university's radio station, also holds an annual festival called MR Fest. "MR" is an acronym "My Radio" but is pronounced "mister."[45] In 2012, local entrepreneurs began hosting an ongoing outdoor concert series called Foodstock (a play on Woodstock) to benefit the Hays County Food Bank.[46]

Many television shows and movies have filmed in San Marcos, including Piranha, The Ringer, Courage Under Fire, The New Guy, The Faculty, Idiocracy, The Getaway, The War at Home, Little Boy Blue, Flesh and Bone, Race With the Devil, The Tree of Life, and Friday Night Lights.[47][48]

In June 2006, The View named the San Marcos Outlets as the third-best place to shop in the world. About six million people visit the malls annually.[49]

Local media includes the San Marcos Daily Record, the San Marcos Mercury, and The University Star.

Places of interest[]

  • Alkek Library
  • Bobcat Ballpark
  • Bobcat Stadium
  • Farmers Union Gin Company
  • First United Methodist Church
  • Fort Street Presbyterian Church
  • Freeman Ranch
  • Old Main
  • San Marcos Mill Tract
  • San Marcos Outlet Malls
  • Sewell Park
  • Strahan Coliseum
  • Rio Vista Dam
  • Wonder Cave

Notable people[]



  1. ^ "2007 State of the City Address" (Press release). Mayor Susan Narvaiz. 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ Preserve America Community: San Marcos, Texas.
  4. ^ a b San Marcos Historic Downtown National Register District, "San Marcos--A Brief History".
  5. ^ a b Aquarena Center : Texas State University.
  6. ^ "Best Places to Raise Your Kids: 2010: Best Place to Raise Your Kids: Texas - BusinessWeek". Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  7. ^ Rollins, Brad. "Fastest-growing city in the U.S.? San Marcos, Texas", San Marcos Mercury, San Marcos, Texas, 23 May 2013. Retrieved on 31 May 2013.
  8. ^ Nelson, Randy. "The 10 Most Exciting Small Cities In America" Business Insider. Retrieved on 20 December 2013.
  9. ^ Convention & Visitor Bureau: San Marcos, Texas Retrieved on 2008-02-23.
  10. ^ Bradley Folsom, "San Marcos de Neve," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed May 23, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
  11. ^ Spanish Colonial Missions, Villas (towns) and Presidios (forts) Along the Camino Real: starting in Mexico Retrieved on 2008-12-16.
  12. ^ About Us - San Marcos Baptist Academy.
  13. ^ Shadrack Graham (c. 1949). "Our Home Town". Texas Archive of the Moving Image. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  14. ^ Shirley Ratisseau, "Gary Air Force Base," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed May 26, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association, retrieved 29 May 2013.
  15. ^ History : Aquarena Center : Texas State University.
  16. ^ Wonder World Park Attractions.
  17. ^ Handbook of Texas Online - TEXAS STATE UNIVERSITY.
  18. ^ Gary Job Corps Center-History.
  19. ^ Handbook of Texas Online - SAN MARCOS, TX.
  20. ^ Handbook of Texas Online - HAYS COUNTY.
  21. ^ U.S. Census Bureau - Texas Cities Lead Nation in Population Growth, Census Bureau Reports.
  22. ^ About Texas State : Texas State University.
  23. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  25. ^ City of San Marcos - LIST OF PARKS & NATURAL AREAS.
  26. ^ Gary Job Corps Center.
  27. ^ Steinberg, R.U.. "Listening to the Bones", The Austin Chronicle, Austin, 4 April 2008. Retrieved on 31 May 2013.
  28. ^ Meadows Center.
  29. ^ San Marcos Aquatic Resources Center.
  30. ^ A. E. Wood Fish Hatchery.
  31. ^ San Marcos Nature Center,
  32. ^ Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos.
  33. ^ Indigenous Cultures Institute.
  34. ^ "Best Places to Raise Your Kids: 2010: Best Place to Raise Your Kids: Texas - BusinessWeek". Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  35. ^ Rollins, Brad. "Fastest-growing city in the U.S.? San Marcos, Texas", San Marcos Mercury, San Marcos, Texas, 23 May 2013. Retrieved on 31 May 2013.
  36. ^ Nelson, Randy. "The 10 Most Exciting Small Cities In America" Business Insider. Retrieved on 20 December 2013.
  37. ^ "San Marcos, TX: Keep San Marcos Beautiful". Retrieved 2013-05-31. 
  38. ^ Thorne, Brett. "San Marcos breaks ground on LBJ-MLK memorial", Community Impact, 21 January 2013. Retrieved on 2 June 2013.
  39. ^ O'Rourke, Ciara. "Sculpture design chosen for intersection of MLK and LBJ in San Marcos", Austin American-Statesman, 8 May 2012. Retrieved on 2 June 2013.
  40. ^ George, Patrick. "Can renovated San Marcos theater create a scene?", Austin American-Statesman, Austin, 20 February 2011. Retrieved on 31 May 2013.
  41. ^ Mansfield, Hap. "Texas Music Theater hosts Lone Star Music Awards tonight", San Marcos Mercury, San Marcos, Texas, 28 April 2013. Retrieved on 31 May 2013.
  42. ^ Rollins, Brad. "From the city of San Marcos: Summer in the Park concert series", San Marcos Mercury, San Marcos, Texas, 28 May 2008. Retrieved on 1 June 2013.
  43. ^ "Summer in the Park Music Series: San Marcos, Texas Convention and Visitor Bureau". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  44. ^ "Hill Country Jazz Festival : Jazz Studies : Texas State University". Retrieved 2013-05-31. 
  45. ^ Mansfield, Hap. "MR Fest makes the Square the hippest place in town", San Marcos Mercury, San Marcos, Texas, 26 April 2013. Retrieved on 31 May 2013.
  46. ^ Peters, Xander. "Foodstock: festival for a cause", The University Star, San Marcos, Texas, 28 August 2012. Retrieved on 31 May 2013.
  47. ^ "San Marcos, Texas Convention and Visitors Bureau: Film". Retrieved 2013-05-31. 
  48. ^ "IMDb: Most Popular Titles With Location Matching "San Marcos, Texas, USA"". Retrieved 2013-05-31. 
  49. ^ "'The View' names outlet mall among world's best places to shop - San Antonio Business Journal". 2006-07-27. Retrieved 2013-12-20. 
  50. ^ "CHARLES AUSTIN". USA Track & Field. Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  51. ^ "Alumni Profiles: Charles Barsotti". The Texas State University Blog. Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  52. ^ "Powers Boothe". Texas State University. Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  53. ^ "Local author to teach thriller writing workshop at SMPL". San Marcos Daily Record. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  54. ^ "Star De Azlan shines bright on country music". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  55. ^ "Ty Hubert Detmer". Pro-Football-Reference.Com. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  56. ^ "Joe Wilder, Dan Morgenstern headline Eddie Durham Jazz Celebration". TexasState University. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  57. ^ "Paul Goldschmidt". Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  58. ^ "Roy Head and the Traits". Rockabily Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  59. ^ "Heloise Columnist". The Texas Speakers Bureau. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  60. ^ "Lyndon Baines Johnson". Find A Grave. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  61. ^ "George Strait". Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  62. ^
  63. ^ "Lloyd Gideon Johnson House," Texas Historical Markers, San Marcos, accessed 2 June 2013

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