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Austin, Texas, referred to by the US government as the Austin Federal Quarantine Zone (AFQZ, AUSQUAR, or Zone TX-Q 01/54) is an abandoned city located in federally-administered Travis County, Texas, and the first major settlement in the United States to be referred to as a 'ghost city'. Austin was struck by the infamous Spanish flu epidemic in late 1918, which killed over half of the city's population of roughly 30,000 at the time, and created a steep dive in both the local economy and living conditions for the next several decades as the city was slowly abandoned, and as remnants of the flu lingered among the dwindling populace. In 1947, in an effort to prevent the city's complete collapse, the state and federal government sponsored a major rebuilding program in Austin, supported by burgeoning post-war industry. For the next six years, new buildings, including several modern skyscrapers and dozens of tenement housing blocks were constructed across the downtown and inner suburbs. But in the fall of 1953, construction crews inadvertently exhumed a person infected by the original 1918 flu, which mutated and spread like wildfire amongst the remaining citizens of Austin, killing another 2700 before the federal government declared the city and a corresponding ten-mile radius as the nation's first metropolitan quarantine zone in June 1954. This was when the state government in San Antonio at last ordered the city to be evacuated, for fear of losing any more lives, and for the purpose of establishing small 'quarantine camps' outside the Zone. The last of Austin's population, a few dozen homeless and squatters, were finally evicted from crumbling downtown tenements by Texas National Guard quarantine personnel (today's TNG/CDC Joint Taskforce) in the fall of 1960, when the perimeter was expanded to the former county borders. To this day, the city remains abandoned and deteriorating at the center of Travis County, a monument to the 'forgotten pandemic' of the early 20th century.
Austin Federal Quarantine Zone (AUSQUAR)
Perimeter Boundary Fence
(Potential Biohazard Beyond)
This is a Restricted Area. Texas National Guard and Centers for Disease Control Joint Taskforce personnel only permitted beyond this point.
Entrance or presence of any unauthorized persons within will be treated as a federal crime, punishable to the fullest extent of State and Federal law. Do so at your own risk.(Established under the Austin Quarantine Act of 1954 and enforced by the War Department as Zone TX-Q 01/54.)