When first explored by Europeans, the island was an Akokisa site. The Karankawa tribe used it for hunting and fishing. Pirate Jean Laffite established a settlement here in 1817. During the Texas Revolution, the harbor served as the port for the Texas Navy. After the war, a group of investors bought land to establish a town in 1838. The next year, the town was incorporated. Early years gave the city many firsts in Texas: first Roman Catholic convent, first electric lights and first medical college. In 1900, the entire island was inundated by a hurricane, which claimed more than 6,000 lives. A seawall, presently 10 miles long, was built two years later.
Galveston Island offers 32 miles of beach and is a treasure trove of things historically Texan. Details are available at the Galveston Island Visitors Center. The Galveston Yacht Basin offers marina services.
Exciting varieties of food and game fish are found in Gulf waters off Galveston Island. Fishermen may join one of the many party boats for bay or offshore action. Reservations at Piers 18 and 19 and Galveston Yacht Basin. 888/GAL-ISLE. www.galveston.com.
The seat of Galveston County, Galveston is home to the University of Texas Medical Branch, Texas A&M University at Galveston and Galveston College.