Galveston Island is a barrier island on the Texas Gulf
coast about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Houston. The entire island,
with the exception of the little Village of Jamaica Beach, is within the
city limits of the City of Galveston.
The island is about 27 miles (43 kilometers) long and no
more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) wide at its widest point. The island is
oriented generally northeast-southwest, with the Gulf of Mexico on the east
and south, West Bay on the west, and Galveston Bay on the north. The
island's main access point from the mainland is the Interstate Highway 45
causeway that crosses West Bay on the northeast side of the island. The far
north end of the island is separated from the Bolivar Peninsula by Galveston
Harbor, the entrance to Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel. Ferry
service is available between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula. The
southern end of the island is separated from the mainland by San Luis Pass.
The San Luis Pass-Vacek Toll Bridge connects the San Luis Pass Road on
Galveston Island with the Bluewater Highway that leads south into the town
of Surfside Beach.
The island was probably first discovered by Europeans in
1518, when Juan de Grijalva explored the Gulf Coast for the Spanish
government, and was probably visited by Alonso Álvarez de Pineda in 1520.
Galveston Island was variously known to Spanish navigators as Isla Blanca,
San Luis Island, and Isla de Aranjuez.
The great storm of 1900 devastated the island, killing
5000 to 10,000 people, and prompted the construction of the seawall which
protects the northern half of the island.
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Click on the picture to start the video. (See further down page for smaller file for
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Houses on the shore are built on stilts, to help protect against a
Here is a smaller video file for those on dial-up
connection. Click on the picture to start the video.