Growing City Limits

See how rapidly Austin has grown since 2002 and what to expect next

See how rapidly Austin has grown since 2002 and what to expect next

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In only 13 years, Austin's city limits have expanded by 48.5 square miles.

As Austin City Limits Music Festival continues to pack two full weekends, Austin's physical city limits are bursting at the seams. 

In honor of the return of the festival, a new infographic from LawnStarter gives a unique look at the growth Austin has experienced since 2002, when ACL Fest first hit the scene. The report takes numbers from Austin demographer Ryan Robinson and maps them out to illustrate the staggering expansion.

In 2002, Austin occupied 274 square miles. Now, Austin covers 322.5 square miles. In those 13 years, the city grew by 17.7 percent or 48.5 square miles — the same size as Fargo, North Dakota.

To provide context for the recent development, LawnStarter went back in time to look at how Austin has changed historically. From 1900 to 2015, Austin grew by an astonishing 1,855 percent. About 306 square miles (equivalent to the size of New York City) were tacked on to Austin in those 115 years.

Austin's explosion is a result of annexation, or land acquisition from surrounding areas. In fact, Robinson reported that about 35 percent of the city's population growth comes from annexation, contrary to the belief that the increase is solely due to the influx of people moving here.

However, Robinson says that we shouldn't expect our city limits to grow as drastically in the years to come because annexation is no longer a popular practice. "My sense is that our overall annexation policy and philosophy may be changing. There seems to be a bit more pushback than what there was in the past," Robinson stated.

In addition to the infographic, LawnStarter collected a slew of historical photos that document Austin's growth. To get a better look at our expanding city limits, head to LawnStarter.