Galveston Island and Galveston Bay were originally called "Galvez," named for a member of an important Spanish family in Mexico, the Spanish governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez. Privateer Jean Laffite first named a portion of the island "Galvezton," and it later became "Galveston." Sometime later the entire island and the bay took on the new name.
At the turn of the century, although no longer the largest city in Texas, Galveston was generally considered the strongest commercial and banking center of Texas. Traditionally, Galveston was the major port for the export of Cotton and other Texas commodities. When the Houston Ship channel was expanded, Galveston's importance as a shipping area lagged. Today, port activities such as shipping and ship-building and repair are still the main commercial activities for the city. Tourism has long been a major economic activity in the city, and remains so today for this city of about 65,000 on the Texas gulf coast.
These are just a few of the many Galveston postcards I have. More to come!
Indicative of the influence of tourism on Galveston's urban landscape, rows of glamorous hotels have been built along the beach. Among these, is the Hotel Buccaneer, built in 1928 at the corner of 23rd and Seawall by Shearn Moody. The hotel was populated by news reporters in 1961 during Hurricane Carla. Hurricane Carla packed winds of up to 117 miles per hour in Galveston. It struck the coast near the site of Indianola, which had already been wiped off the map by an earlier storm in 1886. It is estimated that Carla produced winds of nearly 175 mph near its center. The storm is largely responsible for the launch of KHOU news director, Dan Rather, to national recognition.
The structure weathered the storm well, but was considered "dowdy" by some when it was donated to the Methodist Church a few months after Carla. The Church turned it into a residence for the elderly called "Moody House". It has since been renamed the "Edgewater Methodist Retirement Center." [Note: Since this page was posted, the Buccaneer has been demolished. It now only lives in our memories and in postcards and photographs.]
If there is a single hotel that has continuously been symbolic of the luxurious tourist industry of Galveston is the Hotel Galvez. Costing $1 million at the time of its construction, the hotel was re-vitalized and renovated in the 1980s, at a cost several times that.
The linen card of the Buccaneer was published in 1938 by C.T. Art-Color, Curteich of Chicago. The white border card is from about 1925. It was postmarked in 1928, and was produced by C.T. American Art of Chicago (Curteich). The sepiatone card was published by Chas. Daferner, and printed by the Albertype Co. of New York.
This page is copyright © 1999, 2000 Leslie Carl Seiler. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. Page updated 10 November 2000. HTML edited 14 September 2003.