Galveston is a Texas Gulf Coast city with a
semitropical climate and natural harbor, making it long favored as a
tourist resort and port. With a population approaching 65,000, it is
well known for its community events, seasonal festivals and as the site
of the extensive health science resources of The University of Texas
The city is situated on Galveston Island, a Gulf of
Mexico barrier island approximately 32 miles long and two miles at its
greatest width. Located some 50 miles south-southeast of Houston, it lies two miles off the Texas mainland and is connected to it by causeways and public ferries.
Due to a coastal location and relatively low
latitude, cold fronts are infrequent and seldom severe. Normal monthly
maximum temperatures range from about 60 degrees in January to near 88
degrees in August, while minimums range from 48 degrees in January to
the upper 70s throughout the summer. Average rainfall is about 46 inches
With its natural harbor, Galveston developed into a
thriving port and business community. The city piled up a number of
“firsts” in its history. Included are claims for Texas’ first customs
house, post office, daily newspaper, telephone, chamber of commerce and
In the 1850s, Galveston was the major city in the
state with its shipping facilities, banks, building, real estate and
trading institutions. Much of the commercial activity was centered in
Galveston’s Strand area, known as the Wall Street of the Southwest.
During the last 15 years, the Strand has undergone a major restoration,
and today offers a variety of shops, museums and restaurants.
The Galveston economy is centered on UTMB, Port of Galveston,
financial institutions and tourism. The Medical Branch is the island’s
largest single employer and also draws employees from the nearby
mainland. UTMB has an annual payroll of more than $530 million and about
The Port of Galveston is the only city-owned port in
the state. Financial institutions have an enormous impact on
Galveston’s economy, with insurance, banking and real estate activities
forming the nucleus. Tourism is also a major contributing factor to the
economy, with about 6.5 million visitors per year. Tourism in Galveston
focuses largely on the 32 miles of public beaches and the wealth of
historical architecture in the city.
Galveston bridges the old and new in its cultural
life. The Rosenberg Library was established in 1900. The Grand 1894
Opera House, once a theater for the finest musicians and actors, has
been revitalized. Other cultural activities in Galveston include summer
musical dramas by the Lone Star Historical Drama Association, Galveston
College’s Upper Deck Theatre, Strand Street Theatre, and a series of
films, lectures and musical programs presented by various organizations.
Galveston’s four-masted tall ship, Elissa, built in 1887, and now completely renovated and seaworthy is open to the public and is adjacent to the Seaport Museum.
Galveston youths receive free public education through the Galveston Independent School District. In addition, there are four private elementary schools, one parochial middle school, and one parochial senior high school.
Advanced education facilities include UTMB, Galveston College and Texas A&M University at Galveston.
Galveston College is a community college offering two-year transfer
programs and associate degrees, diploma and certificate programs, and
noncredit continuing education classes. The college offers a number of
health-related programs in conjunction with UTMB. Texas A&M at
Galveston offers degrees in a number of marine-related disciplines, as
well as providing other education services through Texas A&M
Housing on Galveston Island ranges from the ultra
modern to nostalgic historical homes. One can find a beach house perched
on stilts as well as a loft tucked away in a renovated commercial
Galveston Island is the perfect year-round resort
destination blending temperate weather and rich history. Escape and
explore a tropical island paradise, full of exciting entertainment,
captivating museums, even bird watching, and other incredible attractions.
In North America, there are over 850 species of birds.
Texas can boast having more bird species, nearly 600, than any other
state or provence in North America. Some birds sighted in Texas occur
nowhere else in the nation, and birdwatchers from around the world flock
to see them. Galveston Island, and its checklist of over 320 species,
is part of the Great Texas Birding Trail.
Here you will find Roseate Spoonbills, with their bizarre spatulate
beaks, Reddish Egrets that prance about in the surf in search of small
fish and crustaceans, and Magnificent Frigatebirds that sail over bays
and beaches on seven-foot wings. Not only do many warm-weather species
nest on Galveston Island, but northern ones also pass through on their
long migration flights. Many remain for the winter. When autumn
approaches and some birds leave for Central and South America, others
arrive to take their places. Even the hardiest birds from the far North
turn up occasionally when ice and snow make food impossible to find at
higher latitudes. Texas birds change with the seasons, but they are plentiful at any time of the year.