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City of Galveston

City of galveston sealWhen it was first explored by Europeans, the island was Karankawa Indian site. Pirate Jean Laffite established earliest settlement in 1817. The early years gave the city many firsts in Texas; the first Roman Catholic convent, first electric lights, and the first ;medical college. Disastrous Galveston storm of 1900, when the entire island was inundated during a hurricane, claimed 5,00 to 7,00 lives. A seawall was begun soon afterwards, presently 20 miles long, has proved its staying power several times.

Galveston Island offers 32 miles of beach and also is a treasure trove of things historically Texan. Details from the Visitor Centers.

many city parks, picnic areas, and recreation centers offer playground equipment, athletic fields, tennis courts, and golf courses.

Seat of Galveston County, manor port, tourist, and convention center, home of the University of Texas Medical Branch. Texas A&M University at Galveston, and Galveston College.

Attractions

American National Observation Area

Panoramic views of Galveston Island from the 20th floor. also exhibits of Galveston, the Moody family of Galveston and their founding of American National Insurance Company. One Moody Plaza.

Center for Transportation and Commerce (railroad Museum)

On once-active tracks are over 35 vintage railroad cars and steam engines; historic Santa Fe depot restored to 1932 art deco style, HO-gauge working ;model of Port of Galveston with tracks, ships, and port activities. A People’s Gallery with dozens of life sized figures (some of which “speak” to visitors) re-create a busy depot scene of the 1930s. Six multimedia theaters present the history of Galveston shipping, railroading, and commerce. Rosenberg Street at the foot of the Strand.

Historic Churches

First Lutheran Church, constructed by one of the earliest Lutheran groups in Texas, 1868. 2415 G Street

First Presbyterian Church

Magnificent Gothic structure, houses what is believed to be the oldest church organization in Galveston, dating from January 1, 1840. The present church building constructed in 1873. Church Street at 18th.

Grace Episcopal Church

Founded as a mission of Trinity Church in 874, parishioners moved into present structure in 12895, Gothic style building designed by architect Nicholas Clayton. Many original furnishings including stained glass, hand carved reredos and the altar. At 36th and Avenue L.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Founded in 1884 was designed by Jesuit priest in 1904 after the original church was destroyed in the 1900 hurricane. Opposite Bishop’s Palace at Broadway and 14th Street.

St. Mary’s Cathedral

the first Catholic cathedral in Texas, retaining original splendid architectural Built in 1848, 2011 F Street.

Trinity Episcopal Church

Built in 1857 to serve the parish that was organized in 1841. Traditionally repaired and put in use immediately after any hurricane damage, never missing a service. 2216 H. Street.

Colonel, Excursion Boat

Modern triple-deck paddle wheeler recaptures the romance of 19th Century river steamboats on daily 1 hour sightseeing cruises, morning and afternoons, of Galveston Bay and port; evening dinner cruises, and moonlight dance cruises on Saturday nights. Sightseeing trips include interpretive narration, live band, buffet on dinner cruises, rooms for private parties, and charter cruises that are available.

David Taylor Classic Car Museum

Collection divided into three categories; antiques, classics, and muscle cars. The museum is in three restored buildings emulating car dealerships of the 2930s. There are no imports; collection is a tribute to American automobile. featured cars include a ’29 Chevrolet convertible; ’37 Cord convertible; ’31 Cadillac; and a ’55 Thunderbird. 1918 Mechanic Street.

Ferry Rides

Diesel ferries operate every 20 minutes between Galveston and Port Bolivia. Texas 87. Ferries are part of the Texas highway system, operated toll-free by the Texas Department of Transportation.

Deep Sea Fishing

Exciting varieties of food and game fish are found in Gulf waters off Galveston Island. Fishermen may join one of the many party boats for bay or offshore action. Many free public and commercially operated launching ramps and marinas for private craft available Offshore species are sailfish, marlin, ling, wahoo, king mackerel, bonito, pompano, red snapper, warsaw, dolphin, and other “big league” species.

Fishing Piers

Surf fishermen try their luck almost anywhere along the beach; free municipal jetties and rock groin piers are among the Seawall Blvd. at 10, 17th, 30th, 37th, and 61st Streets. Commercial fishing piers are on Seawall Blvd. ship channel between Galveston and Bolivar Peninsula are South Jetty and North Jetty. Fishermen take flounder, speckled trout, redfish, croaker, tarpon, sheepshead, catfish, and other species.

Galveston County Museum

Displays from one of Texas’ most historic cities plus variety of changing exhibits. Housed in former private bank building of W. L. Moody, Jr. circa 1919; especially impressive inferior. 2219 Market Street.

Galveston Island Beach

Thirty two miles of sand beach washed by Gulf of Mexico. Within city, beach is edged by hotels, condos, restaurants, and amusement attractions. Camping is permitted in designated areas and commercial facilities only, and at Galveston Island State Park. Parking fees are charged at certain beach recreation area; free parking available elsewhere along the 32 mile beachfront.

Galveston Island Outdoor Musicals

1,700 seat outdoor theater in Galveston Island Park alternates Broadway musicals nightly except Sunday from early June through late August.

Galveston Island State Park

Spanning Galveston island from Gulf to bay, the 1,m935 acre park includes ;much salt marsh, rich in birdlife. Viewing from elevated boardwalks and observation platforms. Campsites with hookups, dump station, screened shelters, rest rooms and showers. Picnicking, fishing, swimming, and nature trail. From early June through late August outdoor musicals are presented nightly except Sunday. Six miles south on F.M. 3005 at 13 mile road.

Galveston Yacht Basin

With complete marina services, the yacht harbor provides ships for hundreds of pleasure craft…an elegant sight! Boaters find gas, repair and mechanical services, fishing tackle and bait shops, radar weather reports, and 24 hour security guards. Adjacent motel and mall shops along the eastern end of the Strand between 2nd and 6th streets.

Garten Verein

Octagonal structure, circa 187, still in use as a city recreation building. Victorian accents evident in trim of two picturesque roof levels. City park at 27th & Avenue O.
HISTORIC HOMES AND BUILDINGS – As Texas’ earliest prominent city, literally scores of fascinating historic structures were built by sea captains, merchants, businessmen, and prominent officials. Among the most notable are:

Ashton Villa

Showplace of Galveston Historical Foundation restored 1859 Italianate house-museum reflecting opulence of the era in carved moldings, elaborate ;mantel-work, and lavish furnishings. Guided tours plus slide program about 1900 storm and seawall construction. 2328 Broadway.

Bishop’s Palace

Probably Galveston’s most celebrated landmark, is state’s only structure on the list of nation’s 100 outstanding buildings by American Institute of Architects. “Palace” was built as a private home by Colonel Walter Greshamin 1886t, purchased in 1923 for the Bishop of Galveston – Houston diocese. Showplace furnishings include mantel that was first prize winner at 1876 Philadelphia World’s Fair, Venetian crystal chandelier, damask wall coverings from London and grand staircase of rosewood, satinwood, and a mahogany. 1402 Broadway.

Fort Crockett

This was a primary artillery defense installation built in 1897. Closed in 1947, several buildings remain in the use by Galveston College, Texas A&M University at Galveston, and national Marine Fisheries Service. Massive coastal artillery bunkers c an still b seen. Seawall Blvd. between 45th and 53rd Streets.

Grand Opera House

This is a performing arts hall built in 1894. A multimillion dollar restoration returned the ornate structure to its original grandeur. Stage productions are frequently scheduled; tours are available through Galveston Arts Council. 2020 Post Office Street.

Moody Mansion and Museum

A historic home built, circa 1892, this is a prime example of transitional Victorian architecture. It is the former home and center of the business empire of Texas entrepreneur W. L. Moody, Jr. from 2900 until his death n 1954. With a steel frame, the construction is of red brick, Texas limestone and terra cotta tile. The interior includes stained glass, custom designed carved woods, tile work, fancy plaster work, and stencils in 42 rooms covering 28,000 square feet. Collections include antiques, silver, photographs, and other works of art. Gift shop and restaurant. 2618 Broadway.

Powhatan House

Circa 1847 is a showplace of the Galveston Garden Club. Graceful Greek Revival structure fronted by 40 foot Doric columns, hand-hewn from Maine pine and shipped to Texas by schooner. 3427 Avenue O.

Samuel May William’s Home

Built in 1839, struck an unusual compromise with building conditions in frontier seaport. The house was framed of northern white pine and hemlock in Saccrappa, Maine. With parts carefully numbered, it was dismantled and shipped to Galveston by schooner and reassembled. 3601 Avenue P.

The Strand

Once called “The Wall Street of the Southwest”, is one of the finest concentrations of 19th Century iron-front commercial buildings in the U.S. Lined with gaslights now restored and readapted. The Strand features art galleries and studios, specialty shops, restaurants, pubs, delicatessens, historical exhibits, and even an old-fashioned candy factory. Often the site of annual city festivals, especially the Dickens on The Strand each December and Mardi Gras celebration in early spring. A National Historic Landmark District is on Strand and Mechanic Streets, between 20th and 25th Streets.

Lone Star Flight Museum

The golden age of aviation is recalled by more than two dozen vintage aircraft, from a meticulously restored B-17 Flying Fortress to spindly liaison aircraft. There is a “razorback” P-47 Thunderbolt, a P-38 Lightning, a Spitfire, plus other bombers, trainers, and wartime, “executive” aircraft, all in flying condition. There’s also the Conoco Hall of Power with historic engines, photos, air combat memorabilia and wartime vehicles. 2002 Terminal Drive.

Moody Gardens

142 acre eight phase project of the Moody Foundation. Existing now are:

Rainforest Pyramid

Rising 10 stories, represents rainforests of Asia, Africa, and South America. Experience the exotic rainforest; butterflies abound among waterfalls, cliffs, caverns, Mayan Colonnade, and an ever-changing array of tropical plants. Clear, blue pools are filed with tropical fish; quiet ponds with exotic wading birds.

Imax Theater/visitor Center

Features both 3D and 2D films, and theatre is designed for presentation of conventional movies as well as slide shows and lectures. Within complex is Visitor Center and Gardens Restaurant overlooking Gulf waters a nightly presentation of Dancing Waters.

Palm Beach

This is Texas’ only white sand beach with freshwater swimming lagoons, whirlpools, volleyball, a 400 foot pier/dock and paddleboats. Yellow Submarine and Octopus Slide features 30 foot submarine with fully operational periscope, water gun, and dive horn. Octopus is three slippery slides with stairways in the creature’s arms.

Moody Gardens Convention Center

A multi purpose convention/conference center set in tropical surroundings. At One Hoe Blvd. at municipal airport.
Formal gardens, Japanese Garden of Life, the Vietnam memorial, Hope Rose Garden, Horticulture Terraces, the Vineyard, plus nature/walking trails.

Parks

Largest is Stewart Beach Park on Seawall Blvd. at Broadway, offering pavilion, beach service, bath houses, restaurants, concessions, with attractions such as mini-golf, water slides, and bumper boats.
R.A. Apffell Park, east of Stewart Beach at Boddecker Drive is wide beach with boat launching, jetty and surf fishing, bath house, concessions, and rest rooms.

Dellanera Beach Park

offers beach activities, RV hookups, showers, rest rooms, ;picnic area, grocery store, and laundry room. West of Seawall on F.M. 3005.
Three “pocket” parks are along F.M. 3005 and offer beachfront picnic areas, rest rooms, and playgrounds. There are at 7 1/2 Mile Road 9 1/2 Mile road and 11 Mile Road.

Pelican Island

Just across the channel from Port of Galveston, the island is site of industrial and recreational envelopment. Todd Shipyards Corp. and Texas A&M university at Galveston on south edge. On northern point is Seawolf Park where the port’s federal quarantine station once stood. Scenic location is edged by palms and banks of oleanders with picnic facilities and excellent fishing.

Port of Galveston

First major port in Texas was a commercial link of Texas Republic with rest of the world. For years was the state’s largest city. A modern port that handles ships from throughout the world. Unique in operation, it is the nation’s only port where all facilities, from railroad items, are coordinated under one management. So successful is operation that Galveston is only major port facility in the United States not supported by public funds. Visitors will be fascinated by Fisherman’s Wharf area along Avenue A between 17th and 23rd Streets. Fish markets, seafood restaurants, and charter/group boat docks.

Rice Straw Museum

Unique museum is dedicated to preserving ancient art of using natural colors of the rice plant to create mosaics. Visitors see materials used and how they are used. Narrow strips of differently colored rice straw are selected and sorted out; each piece is then glued into cloth base with gum Arabic sap from a tree in India. No color, paint, or dye is added. A 510 23rd Street above the Star Drug Store.

Rosenberg Library

Texas’ first free public library, contains many original manuscripts and letters of Samuel May Williams, Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, and other prominent figures in Texas history. Rare books, artifacts, art collection. 2310 Sealy Avenue.

Seawall Park

Picturesque location provides a close look at ocean going vessels entering and departing port and yacht basin. Excellent fishing from commercially operated pier. Striking three level pavilion with snack bar; picnic facilities and children’s playground. The main attraction is naval exhibit featuring tours of WW II submarine USS Cavalla, destroyer escort USS Stewart, Navy jet, and military vehicles. Open daily on Pelican Island.

Texas Heroes Monument

A gift to the State of Texas by Galveston philanthropist Henry Rosenberg, commemorates great achievements of men and women of Texas. It is 74 feet high, 34 feet square, with four monolithic granite columns rising to support a 22 foot bronze figure of “Victory.” Erected in 1900, it stands at the intersection of Broadway and Rosenberg Avenue.

Texas Limited

Relive unhurried luxury of rail travel aboard the Texas Limited as it travels to Houston, America’s fourth largest city from romantic Galveston Island. Restored cars from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. Passengers from Houston may ride to League City to attend races at Gulf Greyhound Park or to visit the Space Center Houston and catch returning train from Galveston. Railroad Museum at 25th and Strand.

Texas Seaport Museum

Home of the Elissa square rigged, 400 ton barkentine built in Scotland in 1877. A visitor to Galveston during her sailing/working days, Elissa has returned as a museum of 29th Century maritime technology. Opened in 2982 after eight years of restoration. Elissa is sometimes away from Galveston on sailing’s. Check locally for dockside schedule.
The museum also includes multi-projector slide presentation giving visitors a simulated experience of sailing on board Elissa. Pier 212 at north end of Kempner (22nd) Street.

Tours

Besides tours cited previously under the Historical Homes and Buildings – Ashton Villa, and The Strand – other specialized tours for individuals and groups are available as follows; details from Visitor Information Centers.
Galveston yellow Flyer is trolley-replica offering narrated tour and shuttle transportation. Hourly pick-up and the option of getting on and off at any stop. Ticket is good all day. Originates at 21st and Seawall.

Carriage and buggy rides are available through historic districts and The Strand. Departures from Strand Visitors Center.

Treasure isle Tour Train operates on regular schedule from 2106 Seawall Blvd., touring both old and new sites on Galveston Island in the little train with the fringe on top.

Trolley Cars

Nostalgic trolley cars connect the beach at the seawall to the historic Strand/Bay area. Replica 1900 vintage cars glide for 4 1/2 miles along much like those in the city’s early days. Schedule is posted along the route.

Visitor Information Centers

Details on activities, events, tours, recreation facilities and historic sites; free maps and literature. In Moody Civic Center. Seawall Blvd at 21st Street. Also, Strand Visitor Center; Information, free film on Galveston island, self-guided historical tours, Ticertron outlet. 2016 Strand.

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