New Braunfels: A Picture Perfect Community
Named after the German city of Braunfels, New Braunfels was settled by German immigrants beginning in the mid 19th century. The town was officially established in 1845 when settlers began building forts and homes, and planting crops. The original town included 342 lots, and had an open town square with streets branching off of it at 90-degree angles.
After some financial strain and failing leadership, New Braunfels took a different approach to running the town. A finance and business structure was put in place, Americans were invited to settle in the territory, and friendly relations were established with the local tribe of Indians.
By 1850, the first German school and a still-existent newspaper had been established in the town, and New Braunfels began to thrive. Emerging as a manufacturing center supplying wagons, farm implements, leather goods, furniture and craft shops, New Braunfels became the fourth largest city in Texas with a population of 1,723.
As the city grew, so did the education system. Public schools were built forming the New Braunfels Independent School District, which until 1990 supported five schools.
Booming with economic growth in the late 19th century, the town was linked by telegraph and rail lines with Austin and San Antonio. Electric streetlights were installed, and the first telephone line was run through the town. By 1900, New Braunfels boasted of abundant waterpower, flourmills, textile factories, and processing plants for construction materials, however, the Great Depression and the boll weevil devastated the community. With a new growth spurt during the World War II era, largely due to the favorable proximity of the city to San Antonio, the population grew to approximately 12,200 by 1952 and 8 suburbs were incorporated within its city limits.
The city again expanded in the mid 1900’s when Interstate Highway 35 was completed and investors began to capitalize on the natural and historic attractions offered by the city. Canyon Lake, the Guadalupe River, and Natural Bridge Caverns established New Braunfels as a resort city, and by the mid-1980’s nearly 30 hotels, motels, and resort condominiums had been built.
Today New Braunfels has a population of almost 40,000 and extends into Guadalupe County. The tourism industry remains strong as well as the cultural ties to its original German settlers. With a strong education system, close proximity to both Austin and San Antonio, and affordable housing prices, New Braunfels remains a desirable community for many.