Galveston Island is located approximately 40 miles south of Houston. Today, Galveston is a major vacation spot for residents in the Gulf Coast area. It has 32 miles of beaches and a wide array of family oriented attractions.
In addition to being a family vacation spot, Galveston is a charming southern city with over 2000 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been described as part Southern, part Texan. From its historic past has it has demonstrated an indomitable spirit of perseverance rebounding from three major hurricanes during its history.
Galveston was home to native Indians in 1500s when the first Europeans arrived. It was claimed by French explorer Robert Cavelier La Salle for King Louis in late 1600s and then named St. Louis. Galveston Bay (and later the island & city) was named after Spanish Governor & General Bernardo de Galvez by Cartographer Jose de Evia in 1786. The first town was actually established though by the pirate Jean Lafitte in 1817. Lafitte’s colony Campeches numbered about 1000 at peak. Later Lafitte was forced to leave – burning the colony in departure.
Galveston, as known today, was established by Michel Menard, Samuel May Williams, and others. It was incorporated in 1839. In the late 1800s Galveston was a prominent port & major commerce center of the United States. It was the busiest port west of New Orleans.
Its prominence as commerce center declined after being devastated by the Great Storm of 1900 and with the establishment of Ship Channel / Port of Houston in 1917. Still the worst natural disaster to strike the United States, the Great Storm of 1900 left more than 6000 dead and completely destroyed more than 1/3 of the city.
The city was determined to persevere & rebuild. After the Great Storm, the city built the seawall and literally raised the island. Business leaders also re-established and introduced new businesses. And through the ensuing decades has evolved into the charming southern seaside city it is today.
For more information on Galveston Island, please visit the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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