Our History

About the Montopolis CDC

The Montopolis CDC was founded in 2019 and is the successor to the organization of the same name that was founded in 1988 to advance the community development interests of the neighborhood.  It is also a successor to Montopolis Community Center, Inc. which was founded in 1965 by Rev. Fred Underwood, CSC as one of the first Community Action Agencies in Austin during the War on Poverty.  

About Montopolis and its People

Montopolis is a multiethnic neighborhood located approximately four miles southeast of downtown Austin. The area was long visited and occasionally occupied by various Texas Indian nations; the first documented European or American to settle here was Jessie C. Tannehill, who in 1830 built a cabin and townsite and gave the new community its pretentious name. Instead of establishing a permanent presence in Montopolis, however, subsequent European colonizers looked a few miles upriver to the new settlement of Waterloo, later to be called Austin, which was established in 1839.

Rural and sparsely populated, the remainder of the 19th century saw the Montopolis area used primarily for plantation agriculture. In the 1920s, succeeding waves of Mexican migrants helped establish the modern neighborhood that exists today. Between the 1950s and 1970s, the City of Austin annexed Montopolis, although the area retains much of its rural character.

In the 1960’s Montopolis was dubbed “Poverty Island” by Rev. Fred Underwood, a crusading priest from the Dolores Parish who pioneered the provision of education, transportation, healthcare, housing and social services during the War on Poverty era.  According to the most recent census statistics available, Montopolis remains a predominantly Hispanic community (78% of the population) with a significant African-American history as the site of the Burditt’s Prairie Freedmen’s Community as well.  The per capita income is $16,226, and the Median Family Income is $31,875, about half the amount in Austin and Travis County.  The poverty rate is 33%.


This episode of KOOP Radio’s People United  features Fred L. McGhee on his newly published book Austin’s Montopolis Neighborhood where he spoke at MonkeyWrench Books in Austin’s North Loop neighborhood on November 16, 2014.

Montopolis: The Story of Historic Austin Neighborhood was produced in 1985 by People’s History in Texas in conjunction with the 1985 study of the Montopolis neighborhood conducted by the City of Austin.