Galveston Revisited

Galveston Island is an hour’s drive from Houston, making it a quick and easy getaway and providing opportunity for boating and fishing, enjoying fresh seafood, evening sunsets and the nightly light shows generated at nearby Texas City refineries, walking on the beach and feeling the sand between your toes.  In short, Galveston is a nice change of pace from the big city.

In the late 1800’s Galveston had it all: great wealth, a booming economy and bustling population, impressive mansions, all of which changed with the hurricane of 1900 which, to this day, remains the single most catastrophic natural disaster in US history.  It killed more than 6,000 people and demolished a significant portion of the island’s development.  No storm has been worse, but throughout it’s history Galveston’s fate has been closely related to hurricanes.

The most recent was nearly four years ago when Hurricane Ike swept through leaving a swath of destruction and causing flood waters of more than eight feet.  Until today, visiting with my book club, I haven’t returned to Galveston not wanting to see the results of Ike’s wrath.  While there is still evidence of storm damage, Galveston once again shows its resiliency as life there has gradually returned to normalcy.

Shrimp boats operate as usual

and tourist attractions such as the good ship Elissa again welcome visitors.

What struck me as most different on the island’s historic East End was the absence of trees.  Giant live oaks more than 100 years old were gone having been either been uprooted by Ike or dying after standing in salt water for days.

Left in their stead are sculptures carved from the remains.

While an interesting approach to preservation, I’m betting residents would prefer to have their big old trees which provided shade and privacy.

Galveston is a mixed bag.  Natives cling tightly to the island’s one time grandeur which may be one of the reasons it appears stuck in time.

Old homes from before and after 1900 dot the historic district with some being beautifully restored

and others decaying from neglect.    Perhaps fortunately for Galveston, neither its history nor its homes are why it is a popular destination.  It benefits from the appeal of its gulf beaches and tropical allure.

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5 thoughts on “Galveston Revisited

  1. It is nice to see that the city has made a good recovery. I lived in the Florida Keys when Andrew come though. Just as you say, one of the biggest differences is the landscape when so many big trees are lost.

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