Galveston is an American city in the Houston-Sugar Land metropolitan area of Texas on Galveston Island. It covers an area of two hundred and eight square miles and a population of over fifty-seven thousand residents. The city’s economy is based mainly in the health care, financial, shipping tourism industries. Tourism is in fact, one of the biggest sectors of the city’s economy. In 2009, the city brought in over eight million dollars to the local economy and attracted over five and a half million visitors. Lodging options in Galveston are numerous and varied. There are resort rentals, beachfront condos, bed and breakfast inns and hotels such as Tremont House and the historic Galvez Hotel.
The city can trace its history back to 1785, when Jose de Evia, a Spanish explorer, named the island Galveztown in memory of Bernardo de Galvez y Madrid. In 1816, the first settlement was established on the island by Louis Michel Aury, who wanted to use the settlement as a base from which to launch attacks against Spain. When Louis Michel Aury left for his expedition against Spain, a pirate named Jean Lafitte turned Galveston into a pirate colony. He stayed there until 1821, when the United States Navy removed him from the island. During the nineteenth century, the Galveston Port was constructed and the city served as the Republic of Texas’ capital. In 1839, Galveston was incorporated as a city under the Republic of Texas. Over the next few decades, Galveston entered a golden age and was the first city in the state of Texas to get certain amemnities. These include the first naval base, the first post office, the first parochial school, the first insurance company, the first opera house, the first gas powered lights, the first telephone, the first orphanage and finally, the first electric lights.
Today, the city of Galveston is home to a number of attractions. A popular attraction in the city is Lone Star Flight Museum. Lone Star Flight Museum has over forty historical aircraft and hundred of items related to the history of flight. This museum’s collection is different than most other aviation museums because all the aircraft are flight worthy. This museum is adjacent to Scholes International Airport and is located on one hundred thousand square feet of property and contains its own runway. Lone Star Flight Museum started in 1985 as a private collection of aircraft. Over the next five years, the collection grew so much that the owner decided to open the collection up to the public for everyone to experience. The aircraft in the collection take part in air shows all across the United States. As of 2006, the aircraft from this museum has logged more than forty thousand miles of flying to different air demonstrations. The museum now has a program where patrons can ride in some of the planes located here including the B-17, B-25 and PT-17. This museum also has a Hall of Fame to honor those who have made contributions to the aviation sector. Past inductees have included George H. W. Bush, Howard Hughes and Alan Bean. Aircraft that are located at Lone Star Flight Museum include a Vega B-17G Flying Fortress, PV-2 Harpoon, Supermarine Spitfire, F6F Hellcat, TBM Avenger, AD-1 Skyraider, Vought F4U-5NL and a Hawker Hurricane IIB.
Another popular attraction in the city of Galveston is Moody Gardens. Moody Gardens is a complex that has three main pyramid attractions. These include the Aquarium, the Rainforest Pyramid and the Discovery Pyramid. The Aquarium is one of the biggest in the world and contains a variety of sea life and fish. The Rainforest Pyramid contains an extensive collection of tropical plants and animals. Discovery Pyramid has activities and exhibits that are science based. The complex also has a section called Palm Beach which has a freshwater lagoon and a sandy beach area. Other features of Moody Gardens include a Ride Film Theater, Imax Theater, a convention center, golf course, hotel and a paddle wheel cruise boat.
The Bishop’s Palace is another popular attraction in the city. It is a Victorian home that is located on Fourteenth street and Broadway, in the East End Historic District. It was built in 1893 by architect Nicholas J. Clayton. In 1923, it was purchased by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston and seved for some time as a residence for a bishop. In 1963, it was opened to the public and has been list as one of the one hundred most architectural and historically signifigant structures in the United States by the American Institute of Architects. Guest can receive guided tours of the home on most weekends.
Other attractions in the city of Galveston include Ashton Villa, Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark, The Strand, C-Sick Surfin’, Treasure Isle Tour Train, Port of Galveston, Texas Seaport Museum, Rosenberg Library, Galveston Island State Park, The Seawall, East Beach, Galveston Island Municipal Golf Course, 1877 Tall Ship Elissa, Daily News Building, Galveston Island Railroad Museum and Terminal, Galveston County Historical Museum, Mary Moody Northern Amphitheater, Samuel May Williams House, Grand 1894 Opera House, Galveston Island Trolley, Club 21, Samuel May Williams House, Stewart Beach, Seawolf Park, Big Reef Nature Park, Poretto Beach, Jamaica Beach, Galveston Island Convention Center, Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary, Galveston Island Duck Tours, El Jardin Del Mar and East End Historic District.