Galveston, Texas: Historic Strand District, Harbor, and Tourism

Updated on April 14, 2020
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Scenery from the Strand in Galveston, Texas
Scenery from the Strand in Galveston, Texas | Source

Galveston Tourism

There is so very much to do and see in Galveston, Texas! This post will feature the historic Strand area of downtown, as well as the harbor, shrimp boats, fishing, and more. Those of us who live in Houston are fortunate because Galveston is only a short distance away.

Did you know that Galveston is also known as the City of Oleanders? Many oleander flowers on a profusion of shrubs have grown in many places for long periods in this Island City.

Come along for a scenic tour with pictures and YouTube videos as you get a look at what Galveston has to offer visitors.

Oleanders in bloom
Oleanders in bloom | Source

Oil Drilling Rigs in Galveston

There are several active oil drilling rigs based in the nearby as well as further offshore areas of Galveston. Some can be seen in the distance as one gazes out at the Gulf of Mexico waters from the shore. Others are close enough to take pictures of as in the photo below.

One of them is a non-operational oil rig platform. That oil rig is now open to the public as the Ocean Star Museum. It is on Harborside Drive near the historic downtown Strand area. By visiting this museum, one can acquire knowledge about how the people operating these rigs obtain the oil. Generally, this is done safely and with efforts to protect the environment.

Offshore oil drilling rigs in Galveston
Offshore oil drilling rigs in Galveston | Source

Port of Galveston

The Port of Galveston was established in 1825, going back to the days when Texas was still a part of Mexico. During the Texas Revolution, it served as a main port for the Texas Navy.

Today tonnage of various commodities is moved through this port. Much more of that tonnage goes to and from Houston since the Houston Ship Channel was dredged out, bringing transoceanic ships further inland.

Still, it serves as one of the industrial port cities on the Gulf of Mexico. Galveston is also a port for cruise ship lines. We have friends who have regularly sailed out of the Port of Galveston on cruises to different destinations.

My mother with a ship seen in Galveston
My mother with a ship seen in Galveston | Source

Enjoy a Port of Houston tour in the video below. The sound starts after 30 seconds. It is very informative!

The Historic Strand

Let’s take a look at some of these magnificent buildings starting with the Stewart Building.

A Texas Historical Plaque posted near the building states the following:

THE STEWART BUILDING

Julius Kauffman (1856-1935) and Julius Runge (1851-1906), second-generation owners of a commission firm established in 1842, had architect Eugene T. Heiner design this Renaissance Revival building in the North Italian mode. Contractor Robert Palisser completed the structure in 1882. Then known as the world’s foremost cotton exporters and the initiators of coffee imports from Brazil, Kauffman-Runge also brought significant numbers of settlers to Texas. They housed commodities on the building/s ground floor and had offices above. Many highly-respected Galveston firms had business quarters here.

In 1905 the property was bought by Maco Stewart (1871-1938), who redesigned the interior to create a gallery effect with an arched skylight on the top floor. A foresighted, dynamic lawyer, Maco Stewart in 1908, founded Stewart Title Guaranty Company, now (1978) the largest title firm in Texas. Throughout expansion across the United States, it continuously had offices in this structure of its origin.

Stewart Title Company has restored the building, replacing the ornate cornice which had previously been missing since the famous 1900 Galveston Storm.

The Stewart Building in Galveston
The Stewart Building in Galveston | Source

Trueheart-Adriance Building

The Trueheart-Adriance building today is utilized by the Junior League of Galveston. A historical plaque on the building says the following:

Designed in Neo-Renaissance, High Victorian style by Nicholas J. Clayton, noted architect, for H.M. Trueheart & Co., first chartered Realty firm in Texas, founded by John O. Trueheart in 1857.

H.M. Trueheart joined his father in 1866, admitted John Adriance as a partner in 1871, and built this structure in 1882.

After H.M. Trueheart retired in 1906, the firm continued through 1953 as John Adriance & Sons.

In 2002 I created a linocut of this historic building limited to 85 hand-printed, numbered, and signed prints. Perimeter Art Gallery in Houston has this print for sale plus many more of my linocuts, lithographs and other art. They plan to update their website to show more.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Stewart Building on the right with Trueheart-Adriance building adjacent to itThe top portion of Trueheart-Adriance buildingLimited edition linocut by Peggy Woods of Trueheart-Adriance building in Galveston
Stewart Building on the right with Trueheart-Adriance building adjacent to it
Stewart Building on the right with Trueheart-Adriance building adjacent to it | Source
The top portion of Trueheart-Adriance building
The top portion of Trueheart-Adriance building | Source
Limited edition linocut by Peggy Woods of Trueheart-Adriance building in Galveston
Limited edition linocut by Peggy Woods of Trueheart-Adriance building in Galveston | Source

Hutchings, Sealy & Co. Buildings

This building is another stunning beauty in The Strand, which is an area consisting of 36 square blocks. A Texas Historical Commission plaque tells the following story:

Four decades after joining in partnership, George Ball, John Henry Hutchings, and John Sealy employed prominent Galveston architect Nicholas J. Clayton to design an office building for their Ball, Hutchings & Co. Commission and Banking operations. Built in 1895, as two individual but connected structures, these buildings complemented Galveston’s Strand Avenue, known at the time as the “Wall Street of the Southwest.”

The buildings’ Renaissance Revival style is represented by the heavily rusticated stone arches featured on its entryways, terra cotta detailing on the parapets and entablatures, evenly spaced columns and pilasters, elaborate stone cornice, and arcading windows. Foundation walls are six feet wide at the base and made of pressed brick with ashlar patterned sandstone facing.

The corner building, which features the name “Hutchings” on its entablature, was initially constructed for John H. Hutchings. An adjoining office building, featuring the name “Sealy” on its entablature, was built for John Sealy. These grand buildings are reminders of a grand era in Galveston’s history and the philanthropic legacy of these early businessmen.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Hutchings, Sealy & Co. Buildings in GalvestonThe top of the Hutchings, Sealy buildingDetailing on Sealy buildingDetail of Sealy building in Galveston
Hutchings, Sealy & Co. Buildings in Galveston
Hutchings, Sealy & Co. Buildings in Galveston | Source
The top of the Hutchings, Sealy building
The top of the Hutchings, Sealy building | Source
Detailing on Sealy building
Detailing on Sealy building | Source
Detail of Sealy building in Galveston
Detail of Sealy building in Galveston | Source

Dickens on the Strand

An annual event held in Galveston is Dickens on the Strand. It has revelers from all over coming to experience “Jolly Old England” from back in the days when Charles Dickens was alive. They have parades, floats, people dressed up in period costumes, and much music and food. Dickens on the Strand occurs in early December.

Mardi Gras in Galveston

Is Galveston a party city or what! Before the beginning of Lent leading up to Easter each year, a massive Mardi Gras celebration happens in this city. They have had over 100 years of back to back festivities!

Mardi Gras is another time Galveston fills with tourists hungry for gala merrymaking, parades, and people hoping to catch and add to their bead collection. The beads are tossed from atop storefronts and passing floats. It is a carnival atmosphere extraordinaire!

City of Galveston

Galveston, Texas, contains much history for this part of the world. Obviously, there are many attractions which draw people to visiting as well as living on this beautiful island.

From proximity to the water, lying on the beaches, absorbing a few rays of the sun, or enjoying surfboarding, boating, or fishing, it is all there ready and waiting.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
1878 1st Nat’l. Bank building now used as the Galveston Art CenterBuildings in the Strand area of GalvestonSt. Patrick’s Day celebration in the StrandPeggy WoodsStreet Scene in Galveston
1878 1st Nat’l. Bank building now used as the Galveston Art Center
1878 1st Nat’l. Bank building now used as the Galveston Art Center | Source
Buildings in the Strand area of Galveston
Buildings in the Strand area of Galveston | Source
St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Strand
St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Strand | Source
Peggy Woods
Peggy Woods | Source
Street Scene in Galveston
Street Scene in Galveston | Source

Much to Enjoy!

Wish to take a cruise? No problem! You can take a journey lasting just a few days or longer from this convenient departure port. The Strand has many restaurants, shops, art galleries, and more enticing you to leave a little of your money behind.

Museums and historic houses and places of worship are available to tour. The list could go on and on. Suffice it to say that if you are seeking a fun place in which to vacation, Galveston, Texas, is sure to please. Be sure to watch the video below if you are planning a vacation visit to this beautiful island.

I still hear your sea waves crashing, while I watch the cannons flashing, I clean my gun and dream of Galveston,

— Glen Campbell
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Galveston shorelineHome in GalvestonMoody Gardens in GalvestonThe Pleasure Pier in GalvestonThe Tall Ship Elissa in Galveston
Galveston shoreline
Galveston shoreline | Source
Home in Galveston
Home in Galveston | Source
Moody Gardens in Galveston
Moody Gardens in Galveston | Source
The Pleasure Pier in Galveston
The Pleasure Pier in Galveston | Source
The Tall Ship Elissa in Galveston
The Tall Ship Elissa in Galveston | Source

Have you ever spent time in Galveston, Texas?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2020 Peggy Woods

    Comments

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      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi FlourishAnyway,

        Galveston continues to be not only a great place to visit, but the locals love living there. Wealthy people settled there long before Houston, so it is filled with history for this part of Texas.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        7 weeks ago from USA

        I used to live in Louisiana and I visited several Texas destinations but I never visited Galveston. The architecture really is quite gorgeous and I’m impressed at how clean everything is.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Liz,

        I guess time will tell when activities such as Dickens on the Strand will once again resume.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Pamela,

        I am glad that I could fill in a little information about Galveston for you. It has many different sites that lure people to the island in addition to its beaches.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        7 weeks ago from UK

        There certainly appears to be much to enjoy in Galveston. I was intrigued by the Charles Dickens event. Hopefully that can go ahead this year.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

        This is a very interesting article about Galvestan. I like those beautiful old buildings. The City of Oleanders is a new term for me and I also did not know that Galveston had a Mardi Gras. The video was also interesting. This is a very interesting article as I have never visited there but would like to tour the city some day.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Manatita,

        Yes, Glen Campbell is well-known for singing the song "Galveston." There is a lot of history in Galveston.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        7 weeks ago from london

        The Orleanders are so pretty! Again the buildings are very majestic!

        Galveston, O Galveston. Who sang that song? Glen Campbell?

        The beach does look like a lovers paradise and the marine and fauna is amazing!

        I wouldn't mind a ride in a carriage drawn by horses and men in full regalia. Lush and breathtaking views and definitely on my to do list. I love the Victorian buildings.

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