Wednesday, March 21, 2007


The city of Galveston is located on a long, narrow, flat, sandy island, joined to the mainland by bridges and a free ferry. Driving the ten miles north from Galveston Island State Park into the city is an eye-opener - the island is SO FLAT!

The waves of the Gulf of Mexico slide endlessly up the beach for mile after mile, and all the architecture is a reminder of the folly of building here - all houses, old and new, are set on stilts.

A couples miles south of the city, the seawall begins and the stilts disappear. We went off to "The Strand", one of the oldest parts of town, highly reminiscent of New Orleans.

In the late 1800's, Galveston was the third largest seaport in the U.S., and the Strand was the commercial district. Huge, ornate homes were built nearby, all on sand a few feet above sea level.

The hurricane that swept Galveston Island on September 8, 1900, is still regarded as the worst natural disaster to strike the U.S. The entire island was drowned in a tidal surge and the waves of the Gulf of Mexico. At least six thousand people died, homes and commercial buildings disappeared.

The Galveston Seawall is the so-far successful attempt to protect Galveston from another similar disaster. After building the seawall, the bay was dredged and the sand was used to raise the elevation of the city from 3 to 17 feet. Future hurricanes have come and gone, but none with the devastating effects of the hurricane of 1900.

I guess that makes the residents feel safe, but to me... it is not just the architecture of the Strand that is so evocative of New Orleans, but also the obvious vulnerability of the city.

When we visited New Orleans a couple years ago, I remarked to Odel that I would not want to live there, that it looked like a big bowl ready to fill with water. I feel the same way about Galveston. I LOVE visiting here, but I can't look around and believe there isn't a 100-year or 200-year hurricane waiting to trash it in the future.


  1. I'm with you!! I feel the same way! Thanks for the GREAT pictures!

  2. I have read Isaac's Storm which is about the Hurricane of 1900 and watched the story on the History Channel. I agree with you all, beautiful area, but they are definately at the mercy of Mother Nature with not very good odds!