Galveston, Texas: Population = 47,762 (part of Houston-Woodlands-Sugar Land Metro area = 6,490,180), elevation = 7 feet, average January low temp = 48.1, Average July high temp = 88, average sunny days = 203, annual snowfall = 0.1”, annual rainfall = 41.7”, air quality index = 14.9, water quality index = 40, comfort index = 28, median age of residents = 35.6
The journey to Galveston runs through the tangled freeways of Houston. Texans have a talent for spinning concrete and Houston is a fine example. Freeway intersections sprout ramps and bridges and layer on layer of overpass. The view in the GPS looks like a basketweaving project gone awry. And then the rain starts…
Finally, the rains dwindle, the Houston traffic subsides, the raw grating of road rage, Texas style, slacks off enough for a Minnesota driver to relax a little and look for landmarks. One last bridge to cross and we are on Galveston Island. The island is long and thin and runs roughly East to West. The Strand is a Historic main street on the Northeast end. Broadway runs down the middle. Seawall runs along the South coast. Our condo is on the Seawall, toward the West End.
The Strand is the dense little downtown where the city started. Old streetcar tracks still lie embedded in the lumpy streets. Curbs run anywhere from 6 to 15 inches tall, without any apparent reason. The storefronts look like an old Western movie set, with the brick facades and columns. There are lots of little hole-in-the-wall bars and restaurants along the Strand and nearby streets, many with swinging doors out to the front porch.
Broadway is the business street. Traffic gets to where they need to go by zooming down the wide thoroughfare. The grassy median supports palm trees, live oaks, and a few statues. Broadway was the historical home of the big shots, the movers and shakers and money magnets. The last time we were here, we visited the Bishop’s Palace, a very ornate residence for a bishop flush with church money. This time around we visit the Moody Mansion.
After the 1900 Hurricane caused massive death and destruction, the islanders rebuilt the seawall to add 17 feet of elevation to the island. Today, the seawall extends across most of the island, topped with another wide thoroughfare, loaded with zooming traffic. Fast food, beach ware shops, bars, and resorts line the seawall. These resorts may sprawl, but most are only three stories or less.
The last time around, we visited the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Museum, which displayed some amazing modern engineering. This time we toured the Bryan Museum, where we learned about the history of Texas. Texas has a convoluted history, starting (for Europeans) in 1519, when the conquistadors came to claim it. During the next 350 years, parts of Texas were claimed by France, Spain, Mexico, The Republic of Texas, the United States of America, and the Confederate States of America.
Galveston seems to be a great place to live. It is big enough to be interesting but not so large as to be crowded. It has lots of great food options. The winters are mild. I’m not sure about the summers. Wiki says “humid subtropical”, which sounds like jungle to me. But the the residents say the ocean breezes keep it cool. Guess I would have to spend a summer here to find out for myself.
Next up: Conroe Texas, getting ready for Mexico