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resist Galveston GALVESTON, Texas The Jimmy Webb 1969 hit song named after this coastal city and popularized by Glen Campbell readily came to mind during my recent visit: "Galveston, oh Galveston/I still hear your sea winds blowin'/I still hear your sea waves crashing.
" Morning breezes and light drizzle last November chilled the 35 km long beach and gulls far outnumbered strollers along the magnificent sands that separate Seawall Blvd. from the sometimes problematic sea. A beautiful setting, as the afternoon sun attested to, Galveston Island attracted 5.4 million visitors in 2007. There is sunshine over half the time and summer in the "humid, sub tropical climate" augmented by Gulf of Mexico winds averages 26 32 Celsius during the hottest periods, April through October. Winters are temperate, with January highs hitting 15C and lows of 5C. Fishing is pink pandora charms popular, there are numerous spas, restaurants and hotels from modest to fancy; vintage B a waterpark; shopping; antique stores; kayaking, tidal marshes, walking trails and hiking on the east beach, which has an interpretive centre; railroad, sailing, oil rig and other museums; surfing; harbour and island tours; and a reputation for partying, especially at Spring Break. There are also concerts, conventions, parades, a family oriented Mardis Gras, a jazz and blues festival, plus the Lone Star Motorcycle Rally that draws 400,000 participants when it roars into town for the last weekend each October. The No. 1 industry is the University of Texas Medical Branch, a 70 building teaching and research facility with more than 2,500 students, over 1,000 teachers and an affiliated Shriners Burns Hospital. The second industry is tourism. Named for Spaniard Bernardo de Galvez y Madrid, Count of Galvez, the island has long been a playground of the rich, famous and infamous, with a history of upheavals and rebirths. Pirate Louis Michel Aury established the first European community around 1816, usurped a year later by New Orleans buccaneer Jean Lafitte. Galveston became the interim capital of the Republic of Texas 20 years later, when Col. Michael Branamour Menard, of Laprairie, Que., and several associates bought over 18 sq. km of the island and founded a town, incorporated three years later as a city. natural disaster a hurricane on Sept. 8, 1900, that killed over 6,000 of the 37,000 inhabitants. Though one third of Galveston was destroyed and much of its industry left, some stately Victorian homes and downtown buildings were salvaged. City marketing director Melody Smith said heavy in filling and breakwaters raised mansions, surviving businesses and churches official pandora charms website almost six metres, to keep them above floodwaters. During Prohibition in the 1920s, the red light district established during the Civil War expanded and illegal booze flowed in beach and pier bars, gambling joints and dance halls. Texas Rangers kept trying to shut the "sin of the Gulf," but lookouts always sounded the alarm as they drove across the causeway. The Rangers were finally successful in 1957. Their biggest target was the swanky Balinese club and gambling hall at Seawall Blvd. and 21st St., where bands would play Eyes of Texas forcing the lawmen to stop and salute, giving staff time to convert gaming tables to innocent card and dice play. Heyday performers included Frank Bennett, Peggy Lee, Sophie Tucker and the Marx brothers. (The building itself was destroyed by Hurricane Ike on 12, 2008.) With gambling folded, Galveston's economy sagged, until oil baron and city native George P. Mitchell launched a renewal period in the 1960s, focusing first on the core. City leaders next revived Mardi Gras, which today attracts about 250,000 visitors each February. Hollywood also came. The tear jerker Terms of Endearment was made here, as were parts of Armageddon and several episodes of TV's Prison Hit again by subsequent, less damaging storms, the last big one occurred on Sept. 13, 2008. The world's longest seawall covers 16.7 km, with some parts 4 km wide and 5.2 metres high, but Ike's waves circled Galveston Island and flooded in from a northern inlet reaching heights up to 7 metres. Only 12 people died, but almost all the majestic oak trees succumbed to the salt water. After, about 37,000 of the 60,000 population community returned. City spokesperson RoShelle Gaskins said though many people were uprooted and small homes razed, "we got a facelift. Everyone needs that every once in awhile." Strolling in the downtown, from the docks where pelicans waited for scraps thrown by fish handlers at the 1921 Sampson and Son's Seafood pier shop, I saw blue lines painted on several brick buildings, marking Ike's waterlines. The $26 million spent to rebuild the ground floor of Tremont House in the Strand district, was money well spent, said Bill Ross, senior VP of Mitchell Historic Properties. and my group was given a quick tour of some of the magnificent old homes open to the public, including Moody Mansion on Broadway Ave., which displays household items collected in the early 1900s by its owner. Built in 1895 for $125,000, the 20 room, four storey home was bought by influential banking and insurance mogul W. L. Moody Jr. after the 1900 flood. He paid $20,000. When his descendants moved out in 1986, items left behind include his wife's dance cards, toys, books, photos, apothecary jars, clothing, and family cars including her rare 1920s 8 cylinder Studebaker coupe. We had another taste of old world charm, when we lunched at Bernardo's in another Mitchell property the Spanish style Hotel Galvez on Blvd. Its 1911 architecture includes urchin's faces carved in the ceiling decorations plus historic paintings and engravings that reminded us pandora bracelet with charms price of Galveston's treasured history. Samples of local seafood were super but almost forgotten with the arrival of the chef's desserts, including creme brulee with fresh raspberries. Not all the guests are of this world. "Some guests are our ghosts," company representative Christine Hopkins said. Spirits include a woman who breathing heavily, people crying and the wraith of a woman who committed suicide after hearing her fiance's ship sank, before news arrived that he had survived. After lunch, we spent an hour with Maureen Patton, executive director of the 1,040 seat downtown Grand Opera House, built in 1894. Like many such entertainment palaces, it became a vaudeville house after being rebuilt following the 1900 hurricane, then a cinema. Famous performers have included actresses Sarah Bernhardt, Helen Hayes and Mae West, and the Marx brothers. A derelict, until $8 million and 13 years was spent on its restoration, today it hosts performances by stars such as Willie Nelson. President George W. Bush and his father, ex President George H. W. Bush, the latter a Houston resident. On our last day, we visited one of Galveston's biggest attractions. In addition to a hotel and convention centre, a golf course and a Mississippi style paddlewheel boat, Moody Gardens, on Hope Blvd., has three pyramid shaped buildings housing a rainforest, a large aquarium make your own pandora bracelet filled with marine life, and an IMAX theatre. A $25 million refit of the Rainforest pyramid was planned for completion April 28, with a new exhibit featuring local and exotic bugs. It also has over 1,000 species of plants, plus colourful birds and fish. Watching penguins in the aquarium, which has a 1 million gallon tank, was a fun highlight, especially meeting Sweet Pea, 23, one of the most personable members of the troupe.
Finally, locals take great pride in their community and hint that many visitors can't resist coming back or staying. They even divide residents into two groups: BOI and IBC Born on the Island, and Islanders By Choice. Beyond the man made sites and attractions, it is well worth the visit, if only to experience the sea winds blowin' and hear the sea waves crashing.
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