Galveston (Texas)

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Galveston County Justice Center
Galveston County Justice Center
Siegel von Galveston
Location of Galveston in Texas
Lage von Galveston im Galveston County (links) und in Texas (rechts)
Basic data
Foundation: 1785
State: United States
State: Texas
County: Galveston County
Coordinates: 29° 17′ N, 94° 50′ WCoordinates 29° 17′ N, 94° 50′ W
Time Zone: Central (UTC-6/-5)
Residents: 47.743 (as of 2010)
Population Density: 399.5 inhabitants per km²
Area: 539.6 km² (approx. 208 mi²)
of which 119.5 km² (approx. 46 mi²) land
Height: 2 m
Postcodes: 77550-77555
Area code: +1 409
FIPS: 48-28068
GNIS ID: 1377745
Mayor: Jim Yarbrough (2014-2018)
Galveston and the Galveston Bay

Galveston (/ˈɡælvᵻstən/ in English) is a city and county seat of Galveston County on an island on the east coast of the state of Texas in the United States.


Galveston is located about 80 km southeast of Houston on the Gulf of Mexico on a long, narrow island off the coast, Galveston Island, which also forms the southern border of Galveston Bay

The city has an area of 539.6 km², of which 119.5 km² is land area and 420.1 km² (77.85%) is water area.


Galveston has an east side climate. Winds from the south and southeast bring warm air from the Mexican desert areas and moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. In summer, temperatures usually rise above 32 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit), while in winter temperatures are usually between 15 and 10 °C (59 and 50 °F).[1] Snowfall is rather rare. The average amount of rain is about 1000 mm per year.


Population development
Census Inhabitants ± in %
1850 4117 – —
1860 7307 77,5 %
1870 13.818 89,1 %
1880 22.248 61 %
1890 29.084 30,7 %
1900 37.788 29,9 %
1910 36.981 −2,1 %
1920 44.255 19,7 %
1930 52.938 19,6 %
1940 60.862 15 %
1950 66.568 9,4 %
1960 67.175 0,9 %
1970 61.809 −8 %
1980 61.902 0,2 %
1990 59.067 −4,6 %
2000 57.247 −3,1 %
2010 47.743 −16,6 %
1850–2000,[2] 2010[3]

The island was originally inhabited by the indigenous peoples of the Karankawa and Akokisa. In 1528, the conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca stranded here and began his march back to Mexico. Around 1687, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle took possession of the area for France and named it St. Louis in honor of his king, Louis XIV. He never set foot on the island itself. Spanish explorer José de Evia mapped the Gulf Coast and in 1785 named the island after Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid (b. 1746 near Málaga), the Spanish Louisianan governor who recruited Spaniards, Creoles, Native Americans, and African Americans to fight the British when Spain entered the American War of Independence in 1779.

The first permanent settlement of Europeans on the island was established around 1816 by the pirate captain Louis Michel Aury as a base of operations to support the Mexican War of Independence against Spain. When he made an unsuccessful raid against the Spanish in 1817, the pirate Jean Laffite took the opportunity to occupy Galveston, establish the “pirate kingdom” of Campeche (English also Campeachy) there, and proclaim himself its head of government. In 1821, the U.S. Navy issued a demand to the pirates to leave the island or be destroyed. Lafitte burned his settlement and disappeared. Legend has it that his treasure is still buried on the island, Bolivar Peninsula or High Island.

Mexico used Galveston as a trading port beginning in 1825 and established a customs station in 1830. During the Texas War of Independence, the island served as the main base of the Texas fleet. In 1836 Galveston was briefly the capital of the Republic of Texas. That same year, a group of businessmen led by Canadian-born Michel B. Menard purchased 19 square miles of Austin Colony land for $50,000 to establish a town. On April 20, 1838, Menard and his partners resold the first tracts. In 1839, the City of Galveston was officially incorporated by the adoption of a charter and granted cityhood by the Congress of the Republic of Texas.

In the second half of the 19th century, Galveston was a trade and transportation hub for Texas. Between 1840 and 1870, over a quarter of a million immigrants arrived here, including many Germans. At times, 70 percent of U.S. exports of cotton passed through Galveston. In the 1870 and 1880 censuses, Galveston was eventually the largest city in Texas. Then growth began to slow. Other metropolitan areas grew faster, and by 1890 Galveston had been overtaken by San Antonio and Dallas, and by 1900 by Houston. The shipping lane to Houston was dredged by 1914, leading to further economic losses in maritime traffic. The city had finally lost its prominent importance.


Flooding in Galveston caused by Hurricane Ike

On September 8, 1900, a hurricane struck Galveston, destroying much of the city and claiming an estimated 8,000 lives, then one-fifth of the population. Galveston was rebuilt elevated and a protective wall against the sea was built (Galveston Seawall).

On September 13, 2008, at 2:10 a.m. local time, Hurricane Ike arrived in the city. Even before the storm’s center arrived, Galveston was largely flooded. Waves five meters high crashed over the levees. One of the biggest attractions was destroyed – the 79-year-old Balinese Ballroom dance and gambling hall, where stars used to perform, for example Frank Sinatra.


Galveston is considered the mother seat of the Roman Catholic Church in Texas. When the Diocese of Galveston was established in 1847, it was responsible for Catholics throughout Texas; as the population grew, other dioceses were later split off. In recognition of Houston’s growth, the Diocese of Galveston was renamed the Diocese of Houston-Galveston in 1959, and Sacred Heart Church in Houston became the concathedral of the diocese, along with the Cathedral Basilica of St. Mary in Galveston. In December 2004, the Diocese of Galveston-Houston was elevated to the status of archdiocese: Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

St Joseph’s Church (die Josephskirche), built in 1859-60, was the first German Catholic church in Texas. The church was closed in 1969 and is now a museum.

Sights and culture

Beach of Galveston, at the Gulf of Mexico

Galveston’s historic district and beaches are major recreational destinations for Houston area residents. Many wealthy “Houstonians” also own vacation homes or apartments in Galveston

Various Galveston attractions include the Galveston Island Railroad Museum, the Strand National Historic Landmark District, the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum, and several historic ships. Also of importance to tourism are the Moody Gardens Tourism and Amusement Center and the Schlitterbahn Water Park amusement park (opened May 2005).

Galveston is home to theGalveston Symphony Orchestra and a ballet company.

Galveston is sung about in a song by US singer Glen Campbell and is the title of a novel by Nic Pizzolatto.

Economy and infrastructure

After the setback in Galveston’s economic development caused by the hurricane disaster of 1900, Houston emerged as the economic center of the region.

The port of Galveston is served by passenger and cargo ships.

Galveston is home to one high school and three academic educational institutions:

  • Galveston College,
  • Texas A&M University at Galveston and
  • Medical Branch of The University of Texas (UTMB), which has operated a major university hospital in Galveston since 1891 and is the largest employer in Galveston County, providing over 15,000 jobs.

Galveston is also home to the headquarters of Moody National Bank and American National Insurance.


Galveston’s sister cities are:[4]

  • Armavir, Armenia
  • Niigata, Japan
  • Stavanger, Norway
  • Trivandrum, India
  • Veracruz, Mexico

Sons and daughters of the city

  • Kimble Anders (* 1966), American football player
  • Richard H. Anderson (* 1955), Manager
  • Barbara Bollier (* 1958), politician in Kansas
  • Douglas Corrigan (1907-1995), aviation pioneer known as “Wrong Way Corrigan”
  • Larry Coryell (1943-2017), jazz guitarist
  • Amanda Dyar (* 1982), actress, comic artist, author and director
  • Bernard James Ganter (1928-1993), Roman Catholic bishop of Beaumont
  • Maria Celeste Genitempo (* 1974), actress and model
  • Bill Gregory (* 1949), American football player
  • Sara Haden (1898-1981), actress
  • Katherine Helmond (1929-2019), actress
  • Granville T. Hogan (1929-2004), drummer of modern jazz
  • Kay Bailey Hutchison (* 1943), Senator
  • Jack Johnson (1878-1946), boxer
  • Kathryn Keeler (* 1956), rower
  • Christopher Kovacevich (1928-2010), clergyman, Metropolitan of Libertyville and Chicago
  • Marion Joseph Levy junior (1918-2002), sociologist
  • Liana Liberato (* 1995), actress
  • Immanuel McElroy (* 1980), basketball player
  • Inika McPherson (* 1986), track and field athlete
  • George Musey (1928-1992), Bishop in the succession of Pierre Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc
  • Valerie Perrine (* 1943), actress
  • Esther Phillips (1935-1984), singer
  • Jonathan Pollard (* 1954), spy
  • Marlon Ramsey (* 1974), track and field athlete
  • John Stockwell (* 1961), director and actor
  • Ron Taylor (1952-2002), actor and singer
  • King Vidor (1894-1982), director
  • Javon Walker (* 1978), American football player of the NFL
  • Barry White (1944-2003), soul singer
  • Richard Williams (1931-1985), jazz trumpeter

See also

  • Juneteenth – Freedom Day, the American day of remembrance refers to an event in Galveston on June 19, 1865
  • List of entries in the National Register of Historic Places in Galveston County

Web links

Commons: Galveston, Texas– Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual references

  1. Daily Summaries Station Details, Galveston, TX at Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) – formerly National Climatic Data Center (NCDC))
  2. Texasalmanac (PDF; 1.2 MB), retrieved 4 October 2012
  3. U.S. Census(Memento of the Originals november 2, 2012 on the Internet Archive) Info:The archive linkwas automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check original and archive link according to instructions and then remove this notice.@1@2Template:Webachiv/IABot/, retrieved October 16, 2012
  4. Website Galveston – Sister Cities, retrieved on 20 September 2017