Living in GalvestonIyna Bort Caruso
Galveston, Texas, was named after a Spanish colonial governor (Bernardo de Gálvez) and unofficially ruled for a brief time by a pirate (Jean Lafitte). By the late 19th century it had become one of the most important trading ports in the United States. Its history is marked by Texas firsts: the state’s first opera house, hospital, post office and golf course.
Today Galveston is a tightly-knit destination of BOIs--born on the islanders-- retirees and vacation home owners as well as investors whose properties are active in the rental pool. Many owners hail from other parts of Texas, particularly Houston.
The 17-foot high concrete seawall built after the 1900 hurricane to protect homes and businesses from the force of future storms is now a canvas. Paintings of local marine life and attractions make up what is considered the world’s largest mural--2.4 miles long.
Warm-weather enthusiasts are lured by the island’s 32 miles of beaches, pocket parks, multi-use trails and historic architecture. It’s easy to experience it all. Traffic is rare. In some neighborhoods, residents use golf carts as their primary mode of transportation.
Architectural heritage is and always has been a priority. The Galveston Historical Foundation was formed in 1871. The Strand Historic Landmark District features a collection of Victorian-era buildings that now largely serves as restaurants, shops and galleries. At one time, the Strand was known as the Wall Street of the Southwest for its roots as a prosperous business center of banks and merchant homes. The original opera house dating back to 1894 is now a restored performing arts venue called The Grand. Other historic districts include the East End, Lost Bayou and Silk Stocking areas.
The island is known for its 19th and early 20th century homes but also has a collection of high-rise condominiums, town homes, canal homes and residences in gated communities.