A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 06, 2007
Bat City (Austin nickname)

Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge was rehabilitated in 1982. Hundreds of thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats chose the under-side of the bridge to sleep during the daytime, and the city of Austin soon became celebrated as “Bat City.” The bats eat insects and are harmless to humans.

The name “Bat City” is also a humorous nod to the popular comic book, television series, and movie Batman.


Wikipedia: Congress Avenue Bridge
The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge (formerly Congress Avenue Bridge) runs over the Colorado River, at Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake) in Austin, Texas. The bridge is currently home to the world’s largest urban bat colony, making it a lucrative tourist attraction for the Texas capital.

Bat Conservation International
A Little History
Every summer night, hundreds of people gather to see the world’s largest urban bat colony emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge. These 1.5 million bats are fun to watch, but they’re also making our world a better place to live.

When engineers reconstructed downtown Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge in 1980 they had no idea that new crevices beneath the bridge would make an ideal bat roost. Although bats had lived there for years, it was headline news when they suddenly began moving in by the thousands. Reacting in fear and ignorance, many people petitioned to have the bat colony eradicated.

About that time, BCI stepped in and told Austinites the surprising truth: that bats are gentle and incredibly sophisticated animals; that bat-watchers have nothing to fear if they don’t try to handle bats; and that on the nightly flights out from under the bridge, the Austin bats eat from 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of insects, including agricultural pests.

As the city came to appreciate its bats, the population under the Congress Avenue Bridge grew to be the largest urban bat colony in North America. With up to 1.5 million bats spiraling into the summer skies, Austin now has one of the most unusual and fascinating tourist attractions anywhere.
(...)
A Little Background
Austin’s bridge bats are Mexican free-tailed bats. They migrate each spring from central Mexico to various roosting sites throughout the southwestern U.S. Most of the colony is female, and in early June each one gives birth to a single baby bat, called a pup. At birth the babies weigh one-third as much as their mothers (the equivalent of a human giving birth to a 40-pound child!).

Wikipedia: Batman
Batman (originally referred to as the Bat-Man and still referred to at times as the Batman) is a fictional comic book superhero co-created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger (although only Kane receives official credit) and published by DC Comics. The character made his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939). Batman’s secret identity is Bruce Wayne, a wealthy industrialist, playboy, and philanthropist. Witnessing the murder of his parents as a child leads him to train himself to physical and intellectual perfection and don a bat-themed costume in order to fight crime. Batman operates in Gotham City, assisted by various supporting characters including his sidekick Robin and his butler Alfred Pennyworth, and fights an assortment of villains influenced by the characters’ roots in film and pulp magazines. Unlike most superheroes, he does not possess any superpowers; he makes use of intellect, detective skills, science and technology, wealth, physical prowess, and intimidation in his war on crime.

Batman became a popular character soon after his introduction, and eventually gained his own title, Batman. As the decades wore on, differing takes on the character emerged. The late 1960s Batman television series utilized a camp aesthetic associated with the character for years after the show ended. Various creators worked to return the character to his dark roots, culminating in the 1986 miniseries Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, by writer-artist Frank Miller. That and the success of director Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman motion picture helped reignite popular interest in the character. A cultural icon, Batman has been licensed and adapted into a variety of media, from radio to television and film, and appears on a variety of merchandise sold all over the world. 

Fun Trivia
Question #72542. skysmom65 asks:
Which city, aptly nicknamed “Bat City”, hosts the world’s largest urban bat colony, numbering up to 1.5 million?
(...)
Correct Zbeck!! Austin, Texas, (nicknamed Bat City) hosts the world’s largest urban bat colony, 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats. They live under the Congress Avenue Bridge and emerge every summer evening to an appreciative human audience. And the human fans have much to appreciate: On their nightly excursions from under the bridge, the bats consume an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 lb (5,000 to 9,000 kg) of mosquitoes and other insects.
Nov 22 06, 11:09 AM

Bat City T-Shirts
Bat City
$22.00
Anyone who’s ever been to Austin has heard about the bats. Each evening around sunset the Congress Avenue bats emerge like a black cloud from the crevices of the bridge. Covering the countryside in search of food, it is estimated that the bats consume from 10,000 to 30,000 pounds of insects.

Giving birth in June or July, the bats and pups hang around til October when they head back south. Watching the nightly forays for food is a favorite evening activity, especially in late summer.

While bats have called Austin home for many years, it was after renovations to the Congress Avenue bridge in 1980 that they found their favorite hang out. Narrow but deep openings created in the bridge turned out to be perfect accommodations.

So now you know why Austin has been dubbed “Bat City.” Class dismissed.

“Bat City” is printed on a burnt orange American Apparel tee, and specially made for Storyville Austin. To see more of Will Heron’s t-shirts, click here.

Bat City Review: Contact
Bat City Review
Department of English
The University of Texas at Austin
1 University Station B5000
Austin, TX 78712

Bat City We Hosting & Design
Bat City Productions, web site design and web site hosting, has been in business since 1996 and is located in Manchaca, Texas (just south of Austin).  Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America! (Thus, the name...) You can find some very interesting articles about the “Congress Avenue Bridge Bats” at the Bat Conservation International web site.

Bat City Awards
Austin’s Source for Corporate Awards, Trophies and Promotional Items
4101 Guadalupe St., Suite #400, Austin, TX 78751
(inside Hyde Park Marketplace)

Bat City Hot Wheels Collectors
Welcome to Austin Bat City Collectors Website!
Welcome to the Bat City Hot Wheels Collectors Website. Club Information is located on this website.

22 May 1994, The Virginian-Pilot (Hampton Roads, VA), pg. G5:
Austin is Bat City.

Washington Post
Letter From Austin
City Embraces the Bats Who Came Home to Roost
Monday, July 19, 2004; Page A03
(...)
Just blocks from the bats’ roost, the Bitter End Brewery makes Bat City Lager (its second-most-popular brew), and along the bridge, hawkers sell bat T-shirts and bat glow sticks, next to the bat experts who answer tourists’ questions. There is a Bat Hotline to call for nightly bat flight times, and bat cruise boats that traverse Town Lake and wait underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge just as the mammals fly out. There is the specially commissioned public art purple bat sculpture ("Night Wing") on Congress Avenue, and the reports by local television meteorologists, who track not only the weather, but also the nightly bat flight whenever it makes the Doppler radar.

When a minor league hockey team came to Austin in 1996, it considered, but rejected, typical Texas monikers such as the Outlaws, Rough Riders or Rattlers because it wanted a name with “a distinctly Austin feel,” team spokesman Glen Norman said. It picked the Austin Ice Bats, of course.
(...)
The migratory arrival of the Mexican free-tailed bats to the Congress Avenue Bridge began in 1982, right after the structure, which connects downtown to south Austin, was rehabilitated. Texas Transportation Department engineers had built a four-lane bridge of concrete box beams, each separated by a crevice 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches wide to allow for expansion. Each crevice was 16 to 18 inches deep and was capped by the bridge’s road surface. The department’s special projects engineer, Mark Bloschock, said the crevices created, quite unintentionally, an ideal home for the bats, which seek dark, warm, narrow habitats in which to sleep during the day and to nurse their pups, born each June.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, December 06, 2007 • Permalink