PIRATES AND HURRICANES
By the 1880’s, Galveston was the state’s largest and most prosperous city and its business district, known as the Strand, hosted a lively coastal trade. The Strand’s collection of iron-fronted buildings, considered one of the finest concentrations of 19th century commercial architecture in the nation, continues to serve Galveston visitors today. Restored and now filled with shops and restaurants, Galveston’s Strand attracts Gulf Coast visitors year round.
Galveston, it seems, has often provided a strategic spot for all sorts of financial transactions, first serving as Pirate Jean Lafitte’s headquarters in 1817, as Mexican port of entry in 1825, and, after the revolution, as major seaport for cotton, manufactured goods, and immigrants in search of new opportunity. Galveston’s good fortunes were challenged in 1900 when a hurricane created the worst natural disaster in the history of the U.S., killing more than six thousand people as the storm surge swept the island and destroyed all but a few of the community’s structures.
Today’s Galveston visitors can capture the feel of a thriving late 19th century seaport by boarding the Elissa, a restored, three-masted sailing barque that doubles as a floating nautical museum and docked at the Texas Seaport Museum. Visitors can also board a fixed-rail trolley and travel between the Strand and the beach, where a seventeen-foot seawall helps protect a modern Galveston (and its historic Strand) from any future storms.
Galveston boasts a state cultural district designated by the Texas Commission on the Arts. Explore all they have to offer on your next visit!