Information for your Vacation in Galveston Texas
Located along the Gulf Coast region in the state of Texas, Galveston is the county seat of Galveston County. As of the 2005 U.S. Census estimate, the city had a total population of 57,466. Galveston was named in honor of Bernardo de Gálvez, the viceroy of Mexico, and is known for its historic neighborhoods and a ten-mile long seawall designed to protect the city from floods.
Just 40 minutes from Houston, Galveston Island and the nearby Texas mainland offer a relaxing getaway with a large variety of condos, vacation homes, and villas. Choose a vacation that offers luxurious living while making the most of the beautiful beaches of the island at affordably priced rates.
Aside from the natural beauty of the island and its beaches, Galveston offers attractions that include the Galveston Schlitterbahn waterpark, Moody Gardens, the Lone Star Flight Museum, a downtown neighborhood of historic buildings known as "The Strand," as well as many historical museums and mansions.
During Mardi Gras, Galveston and The Strand Historic District hosts nine different parades and 15 masquerade balls during the 12 days and 11 nights of Mardi Gras. In June the annual AIA Sandcastle competition offers an extraordinary display of sculptures and structures at East Beach. The Lone Star Motorcycle Rally takes place in November and is a Galveston Park Board sponsored event, a four-day Island-wide affair attracting more than 250,000 bikers and motorcycle admirers. The largest of its kind in Texas, the rally features motorcycle processions, drag racing on the sand, Lil' Hawg races, live entertainment, poker runs, concept vehicles and much more! December brings Moody Gardens Festival of Lights, a month-long celebration that features one of the largest and most fantastic light presentations in Texas. Acres of elaborate holiday displays with the sounds of vocal and bell choirs. Make sure not to miss the large outdoor ice-skating rink!
Galveston Island offers a wide variety of water sports, including swimming, scuba diving, snorkelling, boating and sport fishing. Galveston is also home to one of the three Schlitterbahn waterparks in the United States.
There are two 18-hole golf courses located on the Island - the Galveston Island Municipal Golf Course and the Galveston Country Club. The Municipal course is a public course and the Country Club is private. Many additional golf courses are available throughout the nearby Houston metropolitan area.
José de Evia, who charted the Texas coast in 1785, named Galveston Bay after Bernardo de Gálvez, the viceroy of Mexico. The town was founded after Texas gained its independence and in 1939 the Texas legislature granted incorporation to the city of Galveston with the power to elect town officers. During its early years, Galveston was the largest city in Texas, and was still the fourth largest until the 1900 Hurricane struck, devastating large portions of the city. Part of the reconstruction effort after the hurricane was the famous 10 mile long seawall that protects the Gulf Coast side of the city.
Galveston island was originally inhabited by members of the Karankawa and Akokisa American Indian tribes. The Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca was shipwrecked on the island in 1528 and Mexico designated Galveston a port of entry in 1825 and established a small customs house in 1830.. During the Texas Revolution, Galveston served as the port for the Texas Navy and as a seat of the Texas government. Michel B. Menard and a group of investors obtained ownership of 4,605 acres to found a town. After adopting the name Galveston, Menard and his associates began selling town lots on April 20, 1838.
Due to its excellent harbor Galveston became the largest port in Texas, with cotton being shipped out and farming supplies and immigrants being shipped in. In 1860, a railroad line and bridge were built to connect Galveston to nearby Houston. The Civil War blockade was a difficult period of time for the city and for a while it was occupied by Northern troop. Galveston recovered quickly after the war and much of the reconstruction efforts of the state were shipped through its port. Galveston was the largest city in Texas in 1870 and remained the fourth largest in 1900, when it was struck by a powerful hurricane that destroyed large portions of the city, killing an estimated 10,000 people.
The city of Galveston has many firsts to its credit in Texas, it had the first structure to use electric lighting, the Galveston Pavilion; the first telephone; and the first baseball game in the state. The Galveston News, founded in 1842, is the state's oldest continuing daily newspaper. In 1881 the city won the site of the state medical school in a statewide election; and the Grand Opera House was built in 1894 and restored as a modern performing arts hall in the 1980s. Galveston is currently the number one cruise port on the Gulf Coast.
Galveston has been the home of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), a major teaching and indigent-care hospital which now encompasses 84 acres, since 1891. UTMB is the largest employer in Galveston County, creating over 15,000 jobs and bringing about $300 million into the local economy. The Shriners Hospital adjacent to UTMB is a 30-bed pediatric burn hospital providing comprehensive acute care and reconstructive and rehabilitative care to children who have been burned. American National Insurance Company, one of the larger life insurance companies in the United States, and Moody National Bank are headquartered in Galveston.
Galveston's historic downtown and abundant beaches are major tourist destinations. Man made attractions in Galveston include Moody Gardens, the Galveston Railroad Museum, Schlitterbahn, the Strand and the Lone Star Flight Museum. Galveston also has several historic ships on display: the Texas Seaport Museum is home to the tall ship Elissa and Seawolf Park on nearby Pelican Island is home to the submarine USS Cavalla and the destroyer escort USS Stewart, both WWII era ships.
Galveston has been featured in songs by such artists as Jimmy Buffet, Glen Campbell, ZZ Top, Austin Webber and Scott Clare, and Gene Autry. The pirate Jean Lafitte took up residence here after having been driven from his stronghold in Barataria Bay off the coast of New Orleans, Louisiana. Lafitte organized Galveston into a pirate "kingdom" he called "Campeche", anointing himself the island's "head of government." Lafitte remained in Galveston until driven off in 1821.
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