When Edwin Waller surveyed the Austin townsite in 1839, he set aside this block, in what was then the northeast corner of the city, for a hospital. The site lay empty until 1884, when the City of Austin and Travis County jointly opened a 20-bed, two-story facility known as City/County Hospital.
During the early 1900s the city purchased the county's share of the hospital and assumed full responsibility for its operation. In 1912 Dr. Robert John Brackenridge (1839-1918), a retired physician, worked for the passage of a bond election that allowed construction of a new, 45-bed facility, which was completed in 1915. The 1884 building was razed in 1927, and two years later the name of the hospital was changed to honor Dr. Brackenridge. Since then, expansion of facilities and services has meant quality medical care for citizens of Austin and the surrounding area.
Over the years, the hospital staff has cared for victims of the 1918 influenza epidemic, the mid-20th century polio outbreak, and the 1966 sniping attack at the University of Texas. As the state's oldest continuing public hospital, Brackenridge was the site of the first intracranial and open-heart surgeries and of the first kidney transplant in central Texas.