Galveston, Texas

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Galveston Business Signs

Galveston, Texas is considered a coastal city, located on both Galveston Island and Pelican Island.  Originally, the Karankawa and Akokisa peoples inhabited Galveston Island.  They called it “Auia.”  The first Europeans to “discover” these islands was the crew of Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca, who were shipwrecked there in November of 1528.  Consequently, these Spanish explorers referred to the area as “Isla de Malhado” or “Isle of Bad Fate.”  They eventually left for the Spanish settlement of Mexico City.  When another Spanish explorer, Jose de Evia, charted the Gulf Coast in 1785, he renamed the island “Galvez-town” or “Galveztown”, after Bernardo de Galvez y Madrid, Count of Galvez.  The name evidently stuck.

In a fascinating (indeed swashbuckling) twist of fate, the first permanent European settlements on the island of Galveston were constructed in 1816 by Louis-Michel Aury, a pirate!  According to the Texas Historical Association, Aury established the area as a base of operations in order to support Mexico’s rebellion against Spain.  Aury left Galveston in 1817 to raid against Spain.  In the meantime, another pirate, by the name of Jean Lafitte, shanghaied the island from Aury and organized it into a pirate “kingdom” he referred to as “Campeche.”  The Texas Historical Association claims Lafitte “anointed himself the island’s ‘head of government.’”  Lafitte would remain ensconced on Galveston until he and his fellow pirates were all forced off the island by the United States Navy in 1821.  In 1825 the Port of Galveston was officially established by the Congress of Mexico.  The City of Galveston was later incorporated in 1839 by the Congress of the Republic of Texas.

Modern day Galveston, of course, is no longer a pirate haven.  In fact, it is now part of the United States.  According to a 2012 estimate by the US Census Bureau, Galveston has a total population of 47,762 people.  This makes it the second-largest municipality in Galveston County.  The city of Galveston is part of the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area.  The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area, according to a 2010 estimate, has a population of 6,490,180 people.  This makes it the fifth largest metropolitan area in the country.

As you can guess, Galveston offers a wealth of American history.  In fact, the city serves as the home of six historic districts containing a large collection of historically significant 19th century buildings.  Sixty of those structures are even listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  One of those districts, the Strand Historic District, is itself listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also considered a U.S. National Historic Landmark District.  The Strand consists of five-blocks and is the location of annual Mardi Gras and Dickens on the Strand celebrations.  Dickens on the Strand occurs during the Christmas season and “celebrates the city’s Victorian heritage with participants roaming the Strand in period dress.”  Elsewhere in the city of Galveston is the Grand 1894 Opera House.  This Opera House, which was actually built in 1895, is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and it is still in operation.  It was built in the Romanesque Revival style of architecture.

The Port of Galveston currently consists of 850 acres of port facilitates.  The port handles many different kinds of cargo but it is also a cruise ship terminal as well.  Galveston harbors Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Conquest, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Magic, and Carnival Triumph.  The port also serves as the home port for Royal Caribbean International’s MS Liberty of the Seas and Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic.

Galveston is also known for its teaching hospitals.  The largest of these is The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB).  UTMB is a component of the University of Texas System.  It was established in 1891 and as of 2015 has a $495 million endowment.  It is the oldest medical school in Texas.  UTMB employs 12,000 administrative staff with 3,169 students enrolled in total.

Do you own a small business in the Galveston, Texas area?  Considering it?  These resources could help:

Apply for a Business License in Galveston, Texas

Business in the City of Galveston, TX

Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce

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