Galveston /ˈɡælvɨstən/ is a coastal city located on Galveston Island and Pelican Island in the U.S. state of Texas. The community of 208.3 square miles (539 km2), with its population of 47,762 people (2012 Census estimate), is the county seat and second-largest municipality of Galveston County. It is located withinHouston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area.
Named after Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Count of Gálvez (born in Málaga, Spain), Galveston's first European settlements on the island were constructed around 1816 by French pirate Louis-Michel Aury to help the fledgling Republic of Mexico fight Spain. The Port of Galveston was established in 1825 by the Congress of Mexicofollowing its successful independence from Spain. The city served as the main port for the Texas Navy during theTexas Revolution, and later served as the capital of the Republic of Texas.
During the 19th century, Galveston became a major U.S. commercial center and one of the largest ports in theUnited States. It was devastated by the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, whose effects included flooding and a storm surge. The natural disaster on the exposed barrier island is still ranked as the deadliest in United States history, with an estimated toll of 6,000-8,000 people.
Much of Galveston's modern economy is centered in the tourism, health care, shipping, and financial industries. The 84-acre (340,000 m2) University of Texas Medical Branch campus with an enrollment of more than 2,500 students is a major economic force of the city. Galveston is home to six historic districts containing one of the largest and historically significant collections of 19th-century buildings with over 60 structures listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
|City of Galveston|
Downtown Galveston in June 2011
|Nickname(s): The Oleander City|
In the late 1800s Galveston was known as the "Playground of the South" Today, it still retains a shared claim to the title among major cities along the Gulf Coast states. Galveston is a popular tourist destination which in 2007 brought $808 million to the local economy and attracted 5.4 million visitors. The city features an array of lodging options, including hotels such as the historic Hotel Galvez and Tremont House, vintage bed and breakfast inns, beachfront condominiums, and resort rentals. The city's tourist attractions include the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, Galveston Schlitterbahn waterpark, Moody Gardens botanical park, the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum, the Lone Star Flight Museum, Galveston Railroad Museum, a downtown neighborhood of historic buildings known as The Strand, many historical museums and mansions, and miles of beach front from the East End's Porretto Beach, Stewart Beach to the West End pocket parks.
The Strand plays host to a yearly Mardi Gras festival, Galveston Island Jazz & Blues Festival and a Victorian-themed Christmas festival called Dickens on the Strand(honoring the works of novelist Charles Dickens, especially A Christmas Carol) in early December. Galveston is home to several historic ships: the tall ship Elissa(the official Tall Ship of Texas) at the Texas Seaport Museum and USS Cavalla and USS Stewart, both berthed at Seawolf Park on nearby Pelican Island. Galveston is ranked the number one cruise port on the Gulf Coast and fourth in the United States.
Galveston is home to the Galveston Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble of amateur and professional musicians formed in 1979 under the direction of Richard W. Pickar, Musical Director-Conductor. The Galveston Ballet is a regional pre-professional ballet company and academy serving Galveston county. The company presents one full-length classical ballet in the spring of each year and one mixed repertory program in the fall, both presented at the Grand 1894 Opera House.
Galveston contains one of the largest and historically significant collections of 19th-century buildings in the United States. Galveston's architectural preservation and revitalization efforts over several decades have earned national recognition.
Located in the Strand District, the Grand 1894 Opera House is a restored historicRomanesque Revival style Opera House that is currently operated as a not-for-profitperforming arts theater. The Bishop's Palace, also known as Gresham's Castle, is an ornate Victorian house located on Broadway and 14th Street in the East End Historic District of Galveston, Texas. The American Institute of Architects listed Bishop's Palace as one of the 100 most significant buildings in the United States, and the Library of Congress has classified it as one of the fourteen most representative Victorian structures in the nation. The Galvez Hotel is a historic hotel that opened in 1911. The building was named the Galvez, honoring Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Count of Gálvez, for whom the city was named. The hotel was added to theNational Register of Historic Places on April 4, 1979. The Michel B. Menard House, built in 1838 and oldest in Galveston, is designed in the Greek revival style. In 1880, the house was bought by Edwin N. Ketchum who was police chief of the city during the 1900 Storm. The Ketchum family owned the home until the 1970s. The red-brick Victorian Italianate home, Ashton Villa, was constructed in 1859 by James Moreau Brown. One of the first brick structures in Texas, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a recorded Texas Historic Landmark. The structure is also the site of what was to become the holiday known as Juneteenth. Where On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger, standing on its balcony, read the contents of “General Order No. 3”, thereby emancipating all slaves in the state of Texas. St. Joseph’s Church was built by German immigrants in 1859-60 and is the oldest wooden church building in Galveston and the oldest German Catholic Church in Texas. The church was dedicated in April 1860, to St. Joseph, the patron saint of laborers. The building is a wooden gothic revival structure, rectangular with a square bell tower with trefoil window. The U.S. Custom House began construction in 1860 and was completed in 1861. The Confederate Army occupied the building during the American Civil War, In 1865, the Custom House was the site of the ceremony officially ending the Civil War.
Galveston's modern architecture include the American National Insurance Company Tower (One Moody Plaza), San Luis Resort South and North Towers, The Breakers Condominiums, The Galvestonian Resort and Condos, One Shearn Moody Plaza, US National Bank Building, the Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens,John Sealy Hospital Towers at UTMB and Medical Arts Building (also known as Two Moody Plaza).