The city of Galveston is on Galveston Island two miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, at 29°18' north latitude and 94°47' west longitude, in Galveston County. It is fifty miles from Houston and is the southern terminal point of Interstate Highway 45. The island is a part of the string of sand barrier islands along the coastal zone of Texas. On its eastern end where the city stands the currents of Galveston Bay maintain a natural harbor which historically provided the best port site between New Orleans and Veracruz. Karankawa Indians used the island for hunting and fishing, and it was the probable location of the shipwreck landing of Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1528. José de Evia, who charted the Texas coast in 1785, named Galveston Bay in honor of Bernardo de Gálvez, the viceroy of Mexico. Later mapmakers applied the name Galveston to the island. Louis Aury established a naval base at the harbor in 1816 to support the revolution in Mexico, and from this point Aury, Francisco Xavier Mina, and Henry Perry launched an unsuccessful attack against the Spanish in Mexico. When Aury returned with his ships after leaving Perry and Mina on the Mexican coast he found Galveston occupied by Jean Laffite, who had set up a pirate camp called Campeachy to dispose of contraband and provide supplies for the freebooters. In 1821, however, the United States forced Laffite to evacuate. Mexico designated Galveston a port of entry in 1825 and established a small customshouse in 1830. During the Texas Revolution the harbor served as the port for the Texas Navy and the last point of retreat of the Texas government. Following the war Michel B. Menard and a group of investors obtained ownership of 4,605 acres at the harbor to found a town. After platting the land in gridiron fashion and adopting the name Galveston, Menard and his associates began selling town lots on April 20, 1838. The following year the Texas legislature granted incorporation to the city of Galveston with the power to elect town officers.
Galveston at a Glance
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Galveston by the Numbers
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|53,695||2020||United States Census Bureau|
|49,638||2019||Texas Demographic Center|
|47,743||2010||United States Census Bureau|
|57,247||2000||United States Census Bureau|
|59,067||1990||United States Census Bureau|
|61,902||1980||United States Census Bureau|
|61,809||1970||United States Census Bureau|
|67,175||1960||United States Census Bureau|
|66,568||1950||United States Census Bureau|
|60,862||1940||United States Census Bureau|
|52,938||1930||United States Census Bureau|
|44,255||1920||United States Census Bureau|
|36,981||1910||United States Census Bureau|
|37,788||1900||United States Census Bureau|
|29,084||1890||United States Census Bureau|
|22,248||1880||United States Census Bureau|
|13,818||1870||United States Census Bureau|
|7,307||1860||United States Census Bureau|
|4,117||1850||United States Census Bureau|