Wooldridge is one of the four original squares delineated in Judge Edwin Waller’s 1839 design for Austin. For seventy years the square served as a trash heap, presumably because of its concave topography. The cleanup of the square began in 1909 when Mayor A.P. Wooldridge decided that a downtown dump didn’t reflect well on the city. Wooldridge constructed a pond system along the brook that ran through the park. According to an Austin American-Stateman article from that year, the ponds were created using a series of dams from honeycomb rock, with “pretty ferns and lilies.” The park was formally opened in a ceremony on June 18, 1909.
Austin began with a bang. In 1839 Republic of Texas President-elect Mirabeau Lamar accepted an invitation from his friend, Jacob Harrell, to hunt in Central Texas. Harrell had established a trading post, Waterloo, on the Colorado River between Shoal and Waller creeks. Legend says that Lamar shot a buffalo at the corner of Congress Avenue and 8th Street. Lamar slayed more than the bison. Later during this trip Lamar remarked that “this should be the seat of future government.” With those words Lamar ended President Sam Houston’s hope of the capital remaining in his namesake.