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Galveston: All Dressed Up Again

April 16, 2012

In September 2008, Hurricane Ike beat the heck out of Galveston Island.  As one drives through neighborhoods close to downtown, there are still signs of the damage to homes that have yet to be repaired completely.

Of course, there are a lot of very old structures in this area, and it’s a little hard to know what was damaged and what was never taken care of in the first place.  But we know that the entire town was hit hard and suffered tremendous damage, so we’ll just look at old and new without judgment.

This church still shows signs of wear and tear.  The economy probably hasn’t helped.

There are a few spots along Seawall Boulevard that remain boarded up, but they really are the exception.

This was presumably once a grocery store.  There is a new Kroger just a few blocks away on Seawall Boulevard.

But, like New Orleans, there is a spirit here that apparently can’t be broken.  I suppose the people of Galveston proved that way back in 1900 when the great storm of that year demolished much of the island.  They’ve come back, and they’ve done it in a very colorful way:

Older houses have been spruced up, or even completely rebuilt.

And while the big spenders down along the west beach are being creative with color…

The folks in town have been doing it a lot longer.

Commerce along Seawall Boulevard seems to be thriving.

Many places offer patios and decks for dining or drinking outside.  This two weeks we’re spending here is intended to be a vacation, before we begin establishing RVing as our daily life.  As a result, we’ve eaten out a lot.  Every restaurant we’ve been to has had a crowd.

With the number of seqgulls and pigeons flying around, the Poop Deck doesn’t seem like the best name for an eating establishment.  But it seems to work for them.  This place, like the others, was almost completely destroyed.  Today, on a week day, it’s back and thriving.

There are also places on the beach side of the seawall, like the Beach Bar & Grill near the east beach…

…and Woody’s, down along the west end.

There is no shortage of spruced up accomodations, from huge condos along Seawall Boulevard…

…to more colorful units just across the boulevard from the seawall.

Down on the west end near San Luis Pass is Pointe West, with large numbers of upscale weekend and vacation accomodations.

And of course, there is Galveston’s crown jewel, the Hotel Galvez, which has watched over the seawall in grand style since 1911.

So, yes, there are places that haven’t come back and that still need to be restored.  But judging from what we’ve seen here…

…it’s only a matter of time before someone turns it into something like this.

I mentioned the Pleasure Pier in a previous article.  Scheduled for completion in August, it’s going to be a huge, multi-ride attraction.  Such an investment symbolizes a tremendous confidence in the future of Galveston.

This photo from 2009 by Jennifer Renolds of the Galveston County Daily News shows Murdoch’s being torn down after Hurricane Ike destroyed it.  For as long as I can remember, Murdoch’s has always been a gift shop.  But in it’s original form in the early 1900’s, it was a bath house, providing over 500 changing rooms for people on the beach.

Completely rebuilt, Murdoch’s still provides a browsing and souvenir shopping experience in an updated version of its 1900s persona.

This shot of late lunch diners at Casey’s Restaurant is a prime example of the Galveston comeback.  Establishments like this were totally destroyed inside when the storm surged over the seawall and flooded them.  Today, they are as beautiful as ever.

Galveston is back.

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