about galvestion and its history
Galveston's population, at least in the highly-populated East End, is also unusually and interestingly mixed (more about this below). But public transit, apart from the tourist-oriented trolleys, is something of a disaster, and many residents and enterprises are obviously struggling. In some respects, it seems that Galveston has never fully recovered from Hurricane Ike of Sept. 2008, when a massive storm surge that reached 20 feet in places swamped nearly the entire island (including UTMB, which was closed for a year). Many restaurants and shops have markers showing how high the flood waters rose. The photo below was taken at my favorite Galveston venue, the Mosquito Cafe. The flood marker reads "Hurricane Ike High Water" (above the blue arrow) and "September 13, 2008)" below it. (Further damage accompanied Hurricane Harvey in Aug/Sept. 2017, although in that particular storm, Houston fared far worse).
Historically, the most famous storm was the Great Galveston Hurricane of September 1900, a category 4 hurricane with a 15-foot storm surge that flooded the city, which was then about 9 feet above sea level. Almost all existing structures were destroyed and about 8,000 lives lost -- it is still considered the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. (The deadliest industrial accident, a 1947 chain reaction of ship explosions resulting from the detonation of ammonium oxide, occurred in nearby Texas City and also affected Galveston). In the hurricane's aftermath, a massive seawall was constructed and the island also raised. Click here for online exhibits (from the Rosenberg Library's Galveston and Texas History Center) on Galveston's early hurricane history including the amazing grade raising and building of the Seawall following the 1900 storm.
Here are some photos of the Seawall, which is wide and so great for biking as well as walking, and lined with mosaic benches on different themes, as well as the beach, which stretches for 27 miles along the Gulf. These photos were taken yesterday (Tues., March 13) in the late afternoon, when I went biking with one of the UTMB graduate students, Rebecca Permar. (We are in front of the "Pleasure Pier," one of the few structures that exist on the beach side of the Seawall).
poretto beach and pier
I have had other lovely encounters with local folks here including a trolley driver who offered to drive me to a movie theatre (not on the route) if no one else were on the bus at that point and a city bus driver who stopped when she spotted me on the street one evening to yell out, "how is your friend?" (meaning Evelyn).
Some pics of Galveston Bay:
ferry trip to the Bolivar peninsula (crystal beach), and visit to Galveston's far east end
the galveston tree sculptures
Carless in galveston
the strand and downtown wharves
birding: west end, matagorda, san luis pass
The first was to Galveston's largely undeveloped West End (where there is no seawall, and the houses are on tall stilts) and the second an all-day raptor tour to Matagorda, a town/bay/county about 100 miles down the coast from Galveston. After a few pathetic attempts with my cellphone camera, I left the bird photography to Kristine Rivers, the naturalist-guide who is also an excellent photographer. Below are a few non-bird photos from the West End and Matagorda trips, and links to Kristine's terrific photos of the birds we saw. This Friday, my last visitor (Susan Garland) and I did another all-day trip to the San Luis Pass at the west tip of Galveston Island and Surfside Beach in Brazoria County; then on Saturday, we joined an Audubon Society group in Galveston. Here's the West End on a rather grey day.