Galveston’s Rich History

Galveston is a beautiful island with 32 miles of beaches. While you are riding the Houston to Galveston shuttle bus, read on for some information about Galveston’s history.

Earliest Discovery by Europeans

Indians lived on Galveston before Europeans arrived. In 1528 a Spanish explorer shipwrecked and lived there as a slave. French claimed the territory in the 17th century. A pirate formed a colony there in 1817. Galveston grew to become the state’s largest city and a very active port.

The Origins of the Name

Galveston is named after Bernardo de Galvez, a Spanish colonial governor who led troops against the British during the American Revolution. He sent an explorer to map the coast from Texas to New Orleans. That explorer found a bay that he called Galveston Bay. The island took the name of the bay. Historians report that Galvez never visited the island.

Hurricane of 1900

The Great Storm of 1900 brought a hurricane which obliterated the town. Over 6,000 people died. Afterwards, the town was raised and a seawall built. Homes had to be raised several feet with jacks and then sand placed under them. People got around the island on makeshift wooden sidewalks. While other hurricanes have struck Galveston, none have been as destructive. You can watch a documentary film at the Texas Seaport Museum at Pier 21.

Other Texas Firsts

Galveston, by virtue of its prominence, led Texas in scientific and technological advancements. The state’s first medical school was established there. Condensed milk was invented by a Galveston businessman. The first lights, bakery, and opera house in Texas operated in Galveston.

While you’re enjoying the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, don’t forget to take some time to appreciate Galveston’s history. Check out the museums that will tell you more of the story, and witness the Victorian architecture in the town.