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 April 08, 2009
City of a Thousand Mounds (Austin nickname)

Early visitors to Austin compared the city’s geography to Rome. George W, Bonnell moved to Austin in 1836; Mount Bonnell is named after him. In 1840, Bonnell wrote: “Like the ancient city of Rome, Austin is built upon seven hills, and it is impossible to conceive a more beautiful and lovely situation.”

William Bollaert (1807-1876), an English writer and ethnologist, went further with the analogy in 1843: “If Rome was celebrated in song for ‘Seven Hills,’ Austin may well boast of her ‘thousand mounds’ covered with bowers equal in splendor to the Arcadian groves.”

Austin has never been promoted as the “City of a Thousand Mounds,” but the Bonnell and Bollaert quotations have been cited by Austin historians. A similar Austin nickname in the 1840s was “City of Hills.”


Wikipedia: Seven hills of Rome
The Seven Hills of Rome east of the river Tiber form the geographical heart of Rome, within the walls of the ancient city.

The seven hills are:

. Aventine Hill (Aventinus)
. Caelian Hill (Caelius)
. Capitoline Hill (Capitolinus)
. Esquiline Hill (Esquilinus)
. Palatine Hill (Palatinus)
. Quirinal Hill (Quirinalis)
. Viminal Hill (Viminalis)

Buffet History of Austin
GEORGE W. BONNELL
Mountain namesake
1840
“Like the ancient city of Rome, Austin is built upon seven hills, and it is impossible to conceive of a more beautiful and lovely situation.”

WILLIAM BOLLAERT
Professional traveler
1843
“It is difficult to give a full and just description of this spot with its surrounding scenery. If Rome was celebrated in song for her ‘seven hills,’ Austin may well boast of her ‘thousand mounds.’”

Center for American History (UT-Austin)
A Guide to the William Bollaert Papers, 1841-1849
Biographical Note

William Bollaert (1807-1876) was an English writer, chemist, geographer, and ethnologist.

Scope and Contents
Observations by William Bollaert on the Republic of Texas include his description of the voyage from England to Texas and comments on the country, the people, and the political and military activities of the period. The collection contains one of Bollaert’s journals (1842) and copies of ten of his journals and sketches from the original material in the Newberry Library, including a brief sketch of Texan naval activities (1837-1843), written by D. H. Crisp, and also Bollaert’s drawings of San Antonio, Galveston Harbor, the President’s House (Austin), and a cotton gin and press as well as soil profiles, maps, and topographical sketches.

George W Bonnell’s book (1840)
Topographical Description of Texas, to Which is Added an Account of the Indian Tribes
- a short review
(...)
p64-65
“… The City of Austin, the seat of government of the Republic of Texas, is situated upon the east side of the Colorado river, a short distance below a range of hills, known by the name of the Colorado mountains. At the session of congress of 1838-’39, a bill was passed removing the seat of government from Houston; and commissioners were appointed to select a new location. …”

“… The Colorado opposite the city, runs nearly east and west. Like the ancient city of Rome, Austin is built upon seven hills, and it is impossible to conceive a more beautiful and lovely situation. The streets are generally composed of gravel, which effectually protects them from mud at all seasons of the year. The gravel is generally composed of silex; but agate and cornelian of the finest quality, are found in great abundance about the city. Here also are found great varieties of marine shells, oysters, conch, and almost every variety which are found upon the sea shore.”

Google Books
Anson Jones: The Last President of Texas
By Herbert Pickens Gambrell
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1948
Pg. 179:
If Rome was celebrated in song for “Seven Hills,” Austin may well boast of her “thousand mounds” covered with bowers equal in splendor to the Arcadian groves.

Google Books
South of Red River
By Sylvia Sherry
Published by Hamish Hamilton
1981
Pg. 104: 
“If Rome was celebrated for her seven hills, Austin may well boast of her seven mounds. How does that strike you?”

Google Books
At Home in Texas:
Early views of the land

By Robin W. Doughty
Published by Texas A&M University Press
1987
Pg. 99:
... same classical analogy as Bonnell but was more precise: “If Rome was celebrated in song for her ‘seven hills,’ Austin may boast of her ‘thousand mounds.’” Bollaert was struck by the aesthetic character of Austin’s location, claiming that the city’s beauty equaled “the Arcadian groves” and was unsurpassed by any other place in North America.

Austin (TX) American-Statesman
Your A-List: Best View
By Michael Barnes | Wednesday, June 25, 2008, 03:37 PM
When a French traveler visited Austin during the city’s first years, he suggested — and I am paraphrasing here — “If Rome is the City of Seven Hills, Austin could be called the City of 10,000 Mounds.”

Austin (TX) American-Statesman
Austin as ‘Open City’ 2
By Michael Barnes | Monday, April 6, 2009, 01:49 PM
For Part 1, see post below
Austin has suffered through a history of cursed slogans.

More than 100 years ago, short story writer O. Henry introduced “The City of the Violet Crown,” a rather ephemeral catchphrase, based on atmospheric phenomena, not a headdress worn during pagan seasonal rites, as one might guess.

Anybody notice a violet haze over the hills recently? I thought not.

Fifty years earlier, a French traveller suggested something like “City of 12,000 Mounds,” an unflattering reference to Rome’s eternal seven hills.

Actually, I think he meant it as a compliment.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Wednesday, April 08, 2009 • Permalink