Located fifty miles from Houston and two miles off the Texas coast in the Gulf of Mexico the City of Galveston is on Galveston Island which is located at 29
degrees 18 minutes north latitude and 94 degrees 47 minutes west longitude. The island is a part of a long string of barrier islands stretching along the coast of Texas. It is the largest estuary on the Texas coast and
the seventh largest in the United States. The island extends thirty miles south to north and seventeen miles east to west.
The City of Galveston is located on the eastern end of the island where currents
of Galveston Bay maintain an excellent natural harbor that has been coveted by many during Galveston's long history. It is recognized as being the best harbor between New Orleans and Veracruz.
Jose de Evia who charted the Texas coast in 1785 named the Bay in honor of Bernardo de Galvez and later map makers gave the name to the island. The bay was used by the Karankawa Indians, by the Spainish and
by the famous pirate-patriot Jean LaFitte. In 1821 Lafitte was forced off the island and in 1825 the Spanish set up a port of entry including a customs house which was built in 1830. During the
Texas Revolution Galveston served as port for the Texas Navy.
After the Texas Revolution Michel B. Menard and a group of investors obtained ownership of 4,605 acres at the harbor
and founded a town they called Galveston. They began selling lots in 1838 and in 1839 the Texas Legislature allowed the town to incorporate.
In September 1900 Galveston had a lot
going for it.With a population of 37,789 it was the fourth largest city in Texas and was the third richest city in the United States in proportion to its population.
the 1890's the City of Galveston and the Galveston Wharf Company developed the city as a deepwater port serving Texas' interior and states west of the Mississippi River. It had wharfs, grain elevators, storage
facilities and was served by all major railroads. In 1896-97 and in 1897-98 Galveston handled over 60 percent of Texas' cotton crop. It was the nation's leading cotton port in 1898-99 but fell to second place in
1899-1900. In 1899-1900 Galveston ranked third in the United States in the export of wheat, sixth in cattle and seventh in corn. It was also a major banking center
Galveston had the
distinction of having the first stucture to use electric lighting, the Galveston Pavilion, the first telephone and the first baseball game in the state. The Galveston News, founded in 1842 is the state's oldest
continuing daily newspaper. Many of Galveston's buildings were some of the finest of their time. In 1881 the city, in a statewide election, won the site of the state medical school, now the University of Texas
Medical Branch . The Grand Opera House was built in 1894 and presented the best theatrical productions in Texas. In 1897 Galveston also acquired a Coast Guard station and a small military base, Fort Crockett.