History of Galveston, Texas

Posted on: July 15, 2019, by :

Thinking of taking a shuttle bus from Houston to Galveston for a vacation this summer? If so, you’ve made a good choice. Galveston offers a lot to see and do. However, you may find that you enjoy your trip more if you learn a little about its history.

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Island City

The city is located on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, aptly named Galveston Island. Its widest point is no more than three miles. Altogether, it is about 27 miles long. Island residents classify themselves as either “islander by choice” or “born on the island.”

The first European settlements on the island date back to the early 19th century. However, it is believed that Native American tribes used the island much earlier, based on the archeological record.

Historic Firsts

During Galveston’s golden era at the end of the 19th century, the city experienced a number of historic firsts, including the following:

  • Oldest medical college in Texas
  • First telephone in Texas
  • First opera house in Texas
  • First city in Texas to have gas lights in the 1850s and electric lights in the 1880s.

Unfortunately, Galveston was devastated in the year 1900 by a severe hurricane known as “the Great Storm.” It is still considered the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history, including Hurricane Katrina.

Prior to the Great Storm, Galveston was one of the most prosperous cities in the United States, second only to Newport, Rhode Island. Its economy suffered somewhat in the aftermath of the Great Storm. Nevertheless, the city rose from the rubble and built a seawall to prevent future storms from destroying the city.

Galveston Today

In 2007, 5.4 million visitors took a trip to Galveston. It offers a wide range of tourist attractions, including the Galveston Railroad Museum, Moody Gardens botanical park, Galveston Schlitterbahn waterpark, and the historic Pleasure Pier. Due to its popularity as a vacation spot, Galveston has earned the nickname the “Playground of the South.”