The City of Leander, Texas

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Leander is the name of one of the small communities in the northwestern area of central Texas near Lake Travis and the Highland Lakes. Leander was actually originally called Bagdad, and it was established on July 17th, 1882. The community was first established around 1845 after the original settlers were given land grants in exchange for their service in the Texas Revolution. Many of the original settlers lived in log cabins, and were subjected to Indian attacks on a regular basis. Many businesses in Bagdad, as it was then called, were established in the 1850s, and the first post office was opened in 1858, after the Texas Rangers had arrived to protect the first settlers from the Indians and their frequent attacks. The Rangers built a large fort in the 1850s which slept over sixty men, and during the Civil War, many residents of Bagdad joined the southern forces and fought in the conflict. The name of the city was changed in 1882 to Leander, and the first public school was built on December 5th, 1893.

In 1871, the citizens of Bagdad built a two story rock building, and the second floor was used for meetings of the local Masonic order. The residents then formed a voluntary association to create a new school district, and a new school was built. The new school burned down in 1938, and students had to travel to Georgetown or Liberty Hill to fulfill the state graduation requirements. In November of 1938, a new school was built. Since the small town had been on the stage line from Austin to Lampasas years earlier, the city had grown accordingly, and the first church, the United Methodist Church, was established in 1860. In the early 1890s, the population of Leander was estimated to be 329 people, and since the railroad had built a rail line one mile east of the city, it grew until the Depression, when the population of Leander actually decreased. Farming had been the primary occupation of the residents until the Depression, and afterward, many young men joined the military and fought in World War II. Many churches had been built by then, including Leander Church of Christ, Mary Margaret Catholic Church, and first Baptist Church of Leander. Many roads were built around this time as well, and after U.S. 183 was built, the residents began commuting to nearby Austin for work. Many new businesses were built around the same time, including First State Bank of Leander and McFarland Grocery, and on January 21st, 1978, the city of Leander was incorporated and Joe Bates was named mayor of the small city.

Today, Leander is a thriving community, with a Chamber of Commerce, a golf course called Crystal Falls, a community theater, and a modern public library with internet access and a coffee shop, along with numerous restaurants, bed and breakfast inns, and other lodging and accommodations for visitors. The Leander Parks and Recreation Department has created various recreational activities for the entire family including a concert series, movies in the park, and the Liberty Fest. Some of the restaurants in and near Leander include Smoky Mo’s in nearby Liberty Hill, along with The O’Leander Café, the Great Wall, and Moody’s, as well as a few Mexican food eateries and pizza joints, and numerous fast food establishments.

Currently, the city administers the Council-Manager form of government, and the population of Leander is estimated at just over 20,000 residents. Leander is located in Williamson County about 22 miles northwest of Austin. The city has grown rapidly since the 2000 census, when the population was just over 7500, with a varied racial make up, as well as a diverse group of residents from a standpoint of age. Although most of the inhabitants are considered White, at 83%, many other ethnicities call Leander home, and the median income of a household in Leander is just over $53,000 yearly. The students of Leander attend Leander Independent School District schools, which include elementary, middle, and high schools.

The community of Leander was named for Leander “Catfish” Brown, a railroad official, and the city has a square area of 7.5 miles, with a population density of about 1016 people per square mile. The elevation of Leander is about 978 feet, and part of the city is now in Travis County as well as Williamson County, since the city has grown so dramatically in the recent years. The city has four city parks, including Mason Creek Park, Devine Lake Park, Robin Bledsoe Park, and Benbrook Ranch Park. There are many activities for all, especially seniors, and some of the senior activities include the Active Adult Morning Club and the Morning Club Day Trips. In addition, the Bagdad Community Center offers many activities for seniors to get together and socialize.

Leander is now a thriving city with many attractions, and also very close in proximity to nearby Austin. It is a very accessible community, since it is located near U.S. 183 and State Highway 29, and it will be even more accessible after the completion of the new commuter rail line, which Capitol Metro has established between downtown Austin and Leander. Leander is a great place to visit, or even call home, so be sure to explore Leander when you are in central Texas!

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