Join the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department and the Friends of Wooldridge Square for a Dedication Ceremony on Friday, May 12 at 10:00 a.m. for a Texas Historical Commission Marker at Wooldridge Square Park, 900 Guadalupe St. This is an outdoor park event, so please dress comfortably.
The historical marker replaces an existing outdated marker and provides an expanded explanation of the park's historic significance. When Judge Edwin Waller platted the City of Austin in 1839, he designated four public squares in each quadrant of the city. Only three of the original squares remain and Wooldridge Square, in the northwest quadrant of downtown, is relatively unchanged and retains a high degree of historic integrity. For its first sixty years, Wooldridge Square was used by the public but remained municipally undeveloped. By 1907, improvements were made to the park, and in 1909, Austin Mayor A. P. Wooldridge, for whom the square was already named, sponsored the construction of a classical revival-style gazebo for public engagements in the park. In the early 20th century, many women's suffrage rallies leading to Texas ratifying the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on June 28, 1919, were held at Woolridge Park.
The park became known as an area where politicians and great orators were able to make an impact on the public. In 1911, Governor Colquitt began the tradition of launching campaigns from the square, followed by Governors Allan Shivers, Pat Neff, Dan Moody, Jimmy Allred, Jim Ferguson, and W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel. Booker T. Washington addressed the crowd in Austin at Wooldridge Square in 1911 after he was not allowed to speak on the floor of the Texas Legislature due to the color of his skin. Minnie Fisher Cunningham, who helped organize the National League of Women Voters, announced her campaign as the first Texas woman to run for the U.S. Senate from the park in 1928. Lyndon Baines Johnson famously announced his bid for the U.S. Senate in 1948 at Wooldridge Square. The history of Wooldridge Square is not only significant because of its age, but its ties to the pulse of Austinites in the Texas State capital city also makes this park special.