Get to know Galveston, TX

The coastal city of Galveston is located on Galveston and Pelican Islands, 45 miles southeast of Houston.  The island was inhabited by Native American tribes and saw Spanish explorers as early as the sixteenth century.  The first permanent European settlements began in 1816 when pirate Louis-Michel Aury set up a base to support Mexico in its fight against Spain before being taken by the pirate Jean Lafitte.  The Port of Galveston was constructed in 1825 by the Congress of Mexico.  In 1839 the city was incorporated by the Congress of the Republic of Texas and attracted new residents as the port continued to grow.  The city flourished during the period of Reconstruction and attracted many free men of color.  Leaders of the Texas Republican Party, George T. Ruby and Norris Wright Cuney, helped educate and foster employment opportunities for African Americans in the city.  The Freedmen’s Bureau even had a headquarters on the island.  By the end of the 19th center, the city was the center of Texas trade with its bustling port.  The city was decimated by the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, the deadliest natural disaster in United States history, and never truly recovered.  Tourism was revived in the 1920s and 1930s, in part due to the exploitation of prostitution and gambling clubs, leading to the name the “sin city” of the Gulf.  This “open era” saw Galvestonians support the illegal activities, often referring to the island as the “Free State of Galveston”.  It was not until 1957 when the Texas Rangers launched a campaign of raids that the vice industries were disrupted.  This led to a decline in tourism in Galveston, crashing the economy, and leaving the island’s culture and economy forever changed.  The city was hit by Hurricane Ike in 2008 when it made landfall on the island.  The island rebuilt and further invested in tourism, shipping, higher education, and healthcare, including the adding the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier.  Galveston is known for its six historic districts and more than 60 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.  The island is home to one of the largest and historically important collections of 19th century buildings in architecture in the country.

Quick Facts

Population: 48,513

Median Household Income: $38,008

Median Property Value: $136,700

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