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The romance combined with the heritage of the barrier reef island attracts many to Galveston every year. From our recent visit to the island, we were impressed with the range of attractions and unique history. With 32 miles of beaches, Victorian architecture, art galleries, museums, antiques and attractions at every corner, Galveston is also a leading Texas port for industry and now cruise lines.
The island has been home to the Karankawa and Akokisa Indians, the pirate Jean Lafitte, the super rich, a few ghosts, and many historic firsts.
The city almost did not survive what was to become known as "The Great Storm of 1900", still unmatched in ferocity to any other hurricane to ever impact the United States . Winds on that September 8th were estimated at 140 mph at the height of the storm, with extensive flooding and damage to homes and buildings. Many did not survive, with over 6,000 losing their lives in Galveston (1 out of every 5). The sun shone bright the next day, and the extent of the damage was shocking. Like a phoenix though, the Galveston residents were determined to rebuild no matter what the price. Oleander was planted throughout the city, soon gaining it the nickname of the " Oleander City ." Over an eight year period, the grade of the city was raised, with buildings raised up to 20 feet, with sand pumped in from the Bay as fill-in underneath, and the 17 foot seawall was slowly built. It proved to be well worth the cost, as a strong hurricane 15 years later resulted in 8 deaths and only minimal damage. While at Pier 21, be sure to watch the short film, The Great Storm, which includes rare film of the 1900 damage by Thomas Edison's assistant.
Through the preservation efforts of local residents and historic groups such as the Galveston Historical Foundation, neighborhoods are lined with the finest examples of Victorian homes in the country.
The Tall Ship Elissa, as seen from our helicopter. View more of our aerial photos here.
Galveston has over 60 firsts for Texas, including:
first post office, electric lights, medical college, hospital, and brick house.
Follow along with us as we venture into downtown and the Historic Strand district, containing extensive examples of Victorian buildings, the largest range of cast iron-faced Victorian buildings anywhere in the country.
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