Galveston Texas
A Magical Island Kingdom
Explore our other pages...       Trolley - Galveston, TX

Self-Guided Tours

Each self-guided tour begins in an area of the neighborhood that contains a sizable contiguous concentration of buildings with historical significance, which lends itself to be most easily undertaken on foot, in order that each building, on the route, may be closely examined and considered. For those who do not want to walk, using either a bicycle, or vehicle, is a reasonable alternative. The last part of each tour will cover other highlights, in the neighborhood, that are more spread out, and best accomplished using a vehicle.

Downtown Self-Guided Tour
East End Self-Guided Tour
San Jacinto Self-Guided Tour
Beach Central Self-Guided Tour
Kempner Park Self-Guided Tour
Industrial District Self-Guided Tour


Downtown


Downtown
The Hutchings-Sealy Building (1896); 2326-2328 Strand

The Downtown area has always been the commercial center, as well as the heart and soul of Galveston. The Harbor, and the business district, created the economic engine that made Galveston so prosperous in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. In the mid-to-late Nineteen Century, it was the most powerful banking and financial center between New Orleans and San Francisco. The Downtown area contains the largest concentration of important buildings, in the City, and one of the most important collections of 19th-Century commercial buildings in the country! This area is so historically significant that a section of Downtown Galveston has been designated as The Strand National Historic District.


Today, Downtown Galveston has been transformed into the home of over 95 shops, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, pubs, antique stores, boutiques, coffee shops, souvenir stores and art galleries; as well as many offices, apartments and lofts. It is also the center of a rich and diverse live music and art scene.

There is a sense of timelessness in Downtown Galveston. Nothing is more relaxing and enjoyable than strolling through the streets, or sitting outside at one of its many bars, coffee shops or restaurants and just letting the world drift by.

Downtown Galveston is THE place to go for many of the activities, and experiences that are unique to The Magical Island Kingdom, and it is also the locale for special events such as Mardi Gras, Dickens on the Strand, and the Lone Star Biker Rally.


The area of the Downtown, south of Church (Avenue F), is more residential in nature, and also includes Central Park and the old Galveston County Courthouse, as well as several churches

Downtown Self-Guided Tour

Downtown
The Stewart Title Building (1882); 220 22nd Street

The Downtown neighborhood runs from the Harbor to Broadway (Avenue J), and from 19th to 25th Streets.

The Strand National Historic District has its boundaries at Harborside Drive (Avenue A), Market (Avenue D), 20th Street and 25th Street.



The East End


East End
The Jacob Sonnentheil House (1887); 1826 Sealy

This neighborhood is made up of the large residential area east of Downtown Galveston. Many of the first residents of the new city chose to build their houses in the East End, with its relatively higher land, and its convenient access to the Downtown area. More affluent people chose to build in the area adjacent to Downtown, and closest to Broadway, so as you move further north and east, there is a greater variety of residential dwellings. Some are nearly as grand as those near Broadway, but many were built for the working class, and are smaller in scale, and much less opulent!

At the far north east corner of this neighborhood is the University of Texas Medical School complex (UTMB). This area is dominated by UTMB, which includes some historical buildings on campus, such as Old Red.

In 1971, 40 blocks of the East End became the City’s first historic district. It later added an additional 18 blocks, so that The East End Historic District now covers a large portion of what was, and is, the most prestigious residential area in the City. This is the place where many of the most prominent citizens of 19th-Century Galveston chose to build their homes.

East End Self-Guided Tour

East End
The Joseph Robertson House (1894); 1212 Sealy

The East End runs from 19th to 6th Street, and from the south side of Broadway (Avenue J) to Harborside Drive (Avenue A).

The East End Historic District runs roughly from 19th Street to 10th Street, and from the south side of Broadway (Avenue J) to Market (Avenue D); with some areas pushing as far north as The Strand (Avenue B).


San Jacinto


San Jacinto
The Marcus McLemore House (1869-70)

Most of the land south of Broadway (Avenue J) was considered sub-prime compared to the East End. This is why this area developed primarily as a working class neighborhood, but it had/has its share of grand houses, and country estates. In earlier times, there were also farms and ranches, and commercial uses, such as cotton compresses.

As the neighborhood with the longest frontage on the Gulf of Mexico, San Jacinto was also the heart of the development on the beach, and Galveston’s tourist industry. This area, that we call Beach Central, was located where 25th Street met the Gulf, so it straddled the boundary between two neighborhoods; San Jacinto and Kempner Park.
 
Beach Central Self-Guided Tour

When the 1900 Storm devastated Galveston, San Jacinto took the worst hit! It is estimated that the land area of this neighborhood extended about four blocks further south, than it currently does, because that much of it was reclaimed by the Gulf, during The Storm. The houses, and other structures, nearest the beach suffered more complete destruction than in any other neighborhood! As this debris was piled up, and pushed inland, it formed a natural breakwater, or seawall that eventually saved the rest of the city from more complete destruction. A large percentage of the 6,000 people that died that day lived in San Jacinto.

On 13 November 1885, a fire started at an ironworks at 17th Street and The Strand (Avenue B). It quickly spread through the East End residential area, and then it moved south of Broadway (Avenue J), where it destroyed 20 city blocks between 17th and 21st Streets. Most of these properties were rebuilt within a year, which gave them a new architectural consistency, and prominence. The area that burned, and was then rebuilt, forms the most contiguous area of prime real estate within San Jacinto, and it is now the heart of the Lost Bayou Historic District.

The San Jacinto Self-Guided Tour


San Jacinto
Engine House #5 (1891); 1614 Avenue K

The San Jacinto neighborhood forms the shape of a triangle between 23rd Street, Broadway (Avenue J) and Seawall Boulevard.

The Lost Bayou Historic District has its boundaries at 16th and 21st Streets, and Avenues K and M 1/2.

Beach Central runs from 25th Street to 20th Street along the Seawall.



Kempner Park


Kempner Park
The John H. Hutchings House (1859/1892); 2816 Avenue O

Like San Jacinto, Kempner Park lies south of Broadway. It also started with the regular grid pattern down to Avenue M, and outlots south of there to the Gulf, so its early history and uses were similar to those in San Jacinto. There were country estates, and commercial uses, such as cattle yards, slaughter houses, and cotton compresses, but the residential grid gradually came to resemble the older sections of the City. This neighborhood contains a very wide variety of housing, from the magnificent Hutching Estate, to simple shotgun houses for the working class. A portion of Kempner Park also developed into the City’s first predominately-Black neighborhood.

Kempner Park was the site of the Ursuline Academy, which was a spectacular building designed by Nicholas J. Clayton; and the Ursuline Convent. Although not truly contained within the neighborhood boundaries, the early City cemeteries were located just outside, and adjacent to this area; south of Broadway, between 40th and 43rd Streets.

Ursuline Academy
The Ursuline Academy

Kempner Park also contains the two oldest houses on The Island; the country estates of Michael B. Menard (1838), and Samuel May Williams (1839). In addition, the German pavilion known as Garten-Verein (1880) sits in the city park that gives the neighborhood its name. 

Although there are several prominent residential sections in this neighborhood, probably the most prestigious has become the Silk Stocking Historic District. This was an area of light development before the 1900 Storm, and the east side of 25th Street was being used as a site for cotton compresses. When The Storm wiped out what had been there, this 25th-Street corridor was open for re-development. Much like the re-building of the area that became the Lost Bayou Historic District, after the fire of 1885; the new construction along the 25th-Street corridor produced a contiguous run of magnificent houses.

Kempner Park Self-Guided Tour

Kempner Park
Garten-Verein (1880); 2704 Avenue O

The Kempner Park neighborhood runs from 23rd Street to 39th Street, and from Broadway (Avenue J) to the Seawall.

The Silk Stocking Historic District forms an irregular rectangle with boundaries at roughly Avenue P, Avenue K, 23rd Street and 25th Street.



The Industrial District


Industrial District
The Galveston Brewery (1895/1965); 33rd and Church

This is the final area, in the historic center of Galveston. It lies west of Downtown Galveston, and north of Kempner Park. In the early days, industrial and port activities dominated the land closest to the Harbor, and west of 29th street. There were huge cotton compresses, the city gas and water works, and railroad yards. Although there were some grand houses along Broadway, and as far north as Postoffice, most of the residential dwellings, in this neighborhood, were built to accommodate people in the lowest economic classes, in and among the industrial structures that dominated the area.

Of all the neighborhoods in The Magical Island Kingdom, The Industrial District has suffered the worst from urban renewal, and demolition, and has been helped the least by preservation, and rehabilitation efforts. Since no sizable contiguous area of historical significance remains, there is no historic district in this neighborhood.

Industrial District Self-Guided Tour

Industrial District
The Galveston, Houston & Henderson Railroad Station (1904);
325 33rd Street

The Industrial District runs from 25th Street to 39th Street, and from Broadway (Avenue J) to the Harbor.


Industrial District
The neighborhood tries to make a comeback:
The Village Coffeehouse (????); 2828 Church Street



Texas Flag



Ad




Ad




Ad




Ad






Clayton's Galveston: The Architecture of Nicholas J. Clayton and His Contemporaries
Click Pic for Info
$45.00





The Galveston That Was

Click Pic for Info
$31.47





Galveston Architectural Guidebook

Click Pic for Info
$11.67





Historic Galveston
Click Pic for Info
$24.80





A History of Ashton Villa: A Family and Its House in Victorian Galveston, Texas
Click Pic for Info
$9.95




Daughter of Fortune : The Bettie Brown Story
Click Pic for Info
$12.95




Galveston: A History

Click Pic for Info
$12.97




Isaac's Storm

Click Pic for Info
$10.78




Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories

Click Pic for Info
$13.57




Mythic Galveston: Reinventing America's Third Coast
Click Pic for Info
$45.00




Galveston: A History of the Island
Click Pic for Info
$11.05




They Ain't Wanted Here
Click Pic for Info
$16.95




Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston
Click Pic for Info
$12.32




Cottonclads!: The Battle of Galveston and the Defense of the Texas Coast
Click Pic for Info
$11.95




Tracks to the Sea: Galveston and Western Railroad Development, 1866-1900
Click Pic for Info
$29.95




Women, Culture, and Community : Religion and Reform in Galveston, 1880-1920
Click Pic for Info
$80.00




Galveston: Island of Chance
Click Pic for Info
$25.00


Explore our other pages...       Trolley - Galveston, TX
Copyright The Real Galveston.Com




Home