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Galveston is known for many things – from its beaches to its historic architecture – but being home to the deadliest storm in U.S. history 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.
If you are a student of storm history, here are some special events commemorating the 121st anniversary of the 1900 storm:
Dates: Sept. 3-12 (Times vary)
Description: Lantern Light Galveston hosts several tours that take guests to different places on the island that bear testament to the Great Storm, its survivors and those who perished. Select tours include dinner or brunch and an in-depth talk about the storm in a private setting at Riondo’s restaurant on the Strand. For times, tour locations and pricing visit www.lanternlightgalveston.com.
Date & Time: Wednesday, Sept 8th (121st Anniversary of the 1900 Storm) at 8 p.m.
Location: 2221 Market Street
Description: Join local artists and musicians as they pay tribute to those lost in the storm. Take part in the candlelight vigil at the building that was the site of the weather bureau when the 1900 Storm came ashore.
Date & Time: Sept. 10th
at 8 p.m., Sept. 11 at 2 p.m.
Location: Scottish Rite Theater, 2128 Church St.
Description: Galveston Theater Arts Partnership presents the Baytown Little Theatre Company in Galveston Wind. The production imagines what the real-life ancestors of the playwright went through during the 1900 Storm. Featuring additional characters and iconic Galveston places, the play will immerse theatergoers in 1900 Galveston during the worst natural disaster in American history. After the show, join the playwright and cast and crew on Sept. 10 for a Q&A session at 10:30 p.m. at Proletariat, 2221 Market St. For ticket information, see www.galvtap.org/galvestonwind.html.
Date & Time: Sept. 11 at 10 a.m.
Location: Postoffice District
Description: This free event will wind participants through Galveston’s Postoffice District of Galveston revealing landmarks of Galveston’s storms. Along the journey, hunters can find rewards and special offers for shops while competing for prizes.
Galveston Experience Company offers regular historic hurricane bus tours. Renowned climate scientist, hurricane expert Dr. "Hurricane Hal" Needham's popular hurricane tour is now available as a Bus Tour with incredible photos, video and amazing stories of Galveston's long hurricane history. Visit https://www.visitgalveston.com/directory/galveston-experience-company-things-to-do/ for details.
Galveston Island Seawall: Built as a barrier to future storms, 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 itself.
The Great Storm Memorial Statue: Located on the seawall at 47th Street, this statue depicts a 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 the chronicles of Galveston’s recovery following The Great Storm.
The Bryan Museum – Thomas Edison Movie: The Bryan Museum (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.
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. www.galvestonhistory.org
Galveston Island is a historic beach town located on the Gulf of Mexico just 50 miles from Houston. The island is best known as a vacation destination, offering 32 miles of beaches, a variety of family attractions, Texas’ premier cruise port and one of the largest and well-preserved concentrations of Victorian architecture in the country, including several National Historic Landmarks. Galveston Island is the birthplace of Juneteenth and home to popular amusements such as Moody Gardens, Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark, Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, plus a variety of museums and recreational activities from surfing to birding. For more information on Galveston Island go to www.visitgalveston.com
or call 1-888-GAL-ISLE.