Galveston is known for many things – from its beaches to its historic architecture – but being home to the deadliest storm in U.S. history for the 120th year is one of its less-kind claims to fame.
The Great Storm, as it is now called in history, struck Galveston on Sept. 8, 1900, killing more than 6,000 and taking its place in infamy. This powerful hurricane forever changed the course of the island, which was a thriving, successful city known as the “Wall Street of the South” (with more millionaires occupying the island per capita than any other American city) in the decades leading up to the storm.
While Galveston has been revived as a popular tourism destination, visitors and history buffs still have an opportunity to see remnants from The Great Storm and learn about the island’s fascinating history of tenacity and resiliency. If you are into storm history, here are some places to check out on the island in remembrance of the 120th anniversary of the 1900 storm:
- Galveston Island Seawall: Construction on the Galveston Island Seawall began in 1902 and was completed in 1963. It stands 17 feet above the beach and extends 10 miles from 10th to 99th streets. Many people take advantage of this contiguous sidewalk to bike, walk, run and skate. Murals of sea life are depicted along the wall.
- The Great Storm Memorial Statue: Located on the seawall at 47th Street, this statue depicts a man and woman cradling a child. Houston artist David Moore crafted the bronze sculpture that was placed here in 2000 commemorating those who died and those who survived on the storm’s 100th anniversary.
- Orphanage marker: If you visit Galveston during the first week of September, you’re likely to see a fresh wreath of flowers adorning an unassuming marker on the seawall just east of 69th Street. The marker recalls the St. Mary’s Orphanage sisters and the children in their care who perished in The Great Storm.
- The “Great Storm Movie:” A trip to Pier 21’s Great Storm Theater (2100 Harborside Drive) is worth a visit to see and hear personal stories of survivors and chronicles of Galveston’s recovery following The Great Storm. galvestonhistory.org
- The Bryan Museum’s Thomas Edison Movie (1315 21st St.) is housed in what was once the Galveston Orphans Home – itself a Great Storm survivor. Amid one of the world’s largest private collections of art and artifacts relating to Texas and the Southwest, you can view a video consisting of Great Storm images captured by noted inventor Thomas Edison. thebryanmuseum.org
- 1900 storm survivor plaques: When you drive through Galveston’s historic east-end neighborhoods, you’re bound to notice plaques on many of the older homes – storm survivors. The Galveston Historical Foundation sponsors a 1900 Storm Survivor Plaque Program that allows property owners to display testaments to the resilience of Galveston’s built history. galvestonhistory.org
- Galveston Hurricane Tour: Weatherman “Hurricane” Hal Needham is an international expert on hurricanes and coastal hazards. Participants on his tours can expect to see a range of sites with historical and scientific significance, including before-and-after scenes from The Great Storm. They will also visit the site of the world’s first televised weather radar broadcast. galvestonhurricanetour.com