But many residents and enterprises are obviously struggling. The median household income is just under $29,000 and, in some respects, it seems that Galveston has never fully recovered from Hurricane Ike, which swamped the island in September 2008 and resulted in a significant loss of population. (Although Harvey, which made landfall in late August 2017, impacted Houston even more than it did Galveston, the damage led to yet more people leaving, resulting in reduced bus ridership, which prompted drastic service cuts, etc. in what seems an endless downhill cycle).
A bit more on Galveston's hurricane history: 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 (then 9 feet above sea level). Almost all existing structures were destroyed and about 6,000 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 was also raised. (For details on the grade raising and seawall construction, go to the "Online Exhibits" section of the website of the Galveston and Texas History Center of the Rosenberg Library.
Then in 2008, Hurricane Ike again devastated the island. A massive storm surge, reaching 20 feet in places, swept over most of it. One impact was the death (either outright or as a later result of salt poisoning) of about 80% of the trees, including nearly all of the majestic oaks that used to line many streets. In an effort to make lemonade from lemons, local artists carved sculptures from some of the trunks. These sculptures are primarily located in the East End Historical District, a 50-block area that is bounded on the east by 10th Street, which is only two blocks from the (very comfortable) house I've rented. Having finally completed a self-guided tour of the tree sculptures, here is a small selection of photos taken in the East End (and the last in the West End):
Don't be mislead by the clear blue skies in the initial photos -- many days are overcast and rainy, and dense fog sometimes lasts an entire day, or even longer. But when it is sunny, the beach is stunning, and seemingly endless.
However, I have also yet to hear a positive comment about Trump and have heard many disparaging ones -- not just at the medical school, which is perhaps to be expected, but in conversations on the bus and around town. Indeed, in the middle of a haircut last week, the stylist stopped, said "I have to say something," and when I asked "what?" replied loudly and in the middle of a crowded salon: "I HATE Donald Trump" and proceeded at length to explain why (giving the same reasons that one would expect to hear in Cambridge, MA). Perhaps by the time I leave, I will have acquired more insight into the gap between the election results and visible support for conservative Republicans and what I hear/overhear (but possibly often from people who don't campaign or vote, or at least vote in Galveston; e.g. every member of the faculty or staff at the IMH lives off-island).
On climate change -- which given Galveston's geography one might expect to be a matter of urgent concern -- there is deafening silence. Even the most tentative effort to ask about attitudes here prompts an immediate change in subject.
On a more upbeat note: Galveston is a premier birding destination. On the bay side, pelicans abound, as can be seen from these photos of Katie's Seafood, where you literally have to shoo away the pelicans to order the fish
I did manage to take a few better photos of typical West End houses (there is no seawall on the West End, hence the very high stilts) and other non-bird subjects.