An Engineering Marvel and Promenade
Amusements, & Gift Shops
Back in the
early 1900's Galveston suffered one of the most destructive and
merciless hurricanes to ever hit the US. The 1900 Hurricane killed
over 6,000 residents, and destroyed over 50% of the city. The
biggest threat from any hurricane is the Storm Surge. This is a
wall of water that is forced inland by the hurricane and is far
more of a threat than the wind and rain.
Design And History
storm it was decided that if Galveston was going to survive, there
had to be some type of structure that could protect against these
Storm Surges. At the time of the 1900 Hurricane the majority of
the city was less than 9 feet above sea level. Long story short,
the first section of the Galveston Seawall was constructed by
1904. This protective barrier is a reinforced concrete seawall that
is 17 feet above sea level and 16 feet wide. In addition to the
concrete barrier, the ground behind the seawall would be built up to slope upward for 200 feet to
raise the land 4-5 feet higher than the top of the seawall.
it was built from the east side of the island to around 39th
street. Over the next 60 years it was extended all the way to 99th
street where it ends today. The last section was completed in the
early 1960's. I won't dwell on the engineering challenges but
suffice to say it was a formidable task and Galveston would not be
here today if it had not been built. The current length is over 10
miles long and has proved itself many times.
been three Hurricanes that made a direct hit on Galveston Island
in recent history. Hurricane Carla in 1961 (Cat 5 - 175 mph
winds), Hurricane Alicia in 1983 (only Cat 3 but huge storm surge
and damage). and the most recent Hurricane Ike on September 13th,
2008. Due to the direct hit and storm surges these hurricanes
caused huge losses and many deaths but probably would have erased
Galveston if the famous Galveston Seawall was not in place.
I was here
for both Alicia in 1983 and Ike in 2008 (I did evacuate early in
both cases). And trust me, it's a good idea to evacuate, and do it
early. There are only two ways off Galveston and both get
overwhelmed in the last 2-3 days before landfall. Plus, even if
you do manage to make it through the storm unscathed, the
aftermath is insufferable and you may not be able to get off the
island for several days. I lost a boat and dock from Alicia, and a
house from Ike.
Galveston Seawall Promenade
about hurricanes and how and why the Galveston Seawall was built.
Galveston Island can be split into three major areas of interest.
The Strand shopping and Historical District, the Galveston
Seawall, and the west side with all the beach houses.
news is that the Galveston Seawall is probably the largest and
most famous Seawall Promenade in the US. There are so many ways to
have fun on the Galveston Seawall, it would take weeks if not
months to do it all. From kids of all ages to our Senior Citizens,
there is something for everyone.
many excellent restaurants from fast food to the best steak or
seafood dinners to be enjoyed at every price level. If you're into
souvenirs, there are dozens of great shops big and small. And if
you partake in alcoholic beverages, there are many excellent bars
to sit and watch the ocean surf, people, or weather while enjoying
your favorite beverage.
adventure? There's a place where you can take a Segway Tour of the
seawall, rent surfboards, bicycle buggies for tooling around, rent
jet skis and kayaks, an amusement part on a pier with rides and
games, fish off a pier or beach, roller skate or roller blade,
swim or snorkel along the beach, and much more. There are several
historic sites and monuments to visit, or just stroll along the
beach, catch sunrise and sunsets that amaze, or just sit in the
shade and people watch.
is a fun place to be in good weather or bad. One of my favorite
breakfast places is the Ihop on 53 street in the winter months.
Watching the sunrise, enjoying some great coffee and warm
atmosphere is a great way to start your morning. Sitting in any of
the many restaurants or bars and watching a storm come in over the
water anytime of day or season is fun too. It's pretty easy to
find something to enjoy along the Galveston Seawall, regardless of
the weather, season, or time of day.
video of a ride from the far west side of the Galveston Seawall to
the east end. This video was made to show many of the great spots and features of the seawall. It was shot
in 2010 to show the area recovery from Hurricane Ike in 2008. You
can click on the square in the bottom right corner to see the
video full size. They did a
good job of editing and choosing the music. There have been some changes
since 2010 (it's now 2013 as I write this) but you can certainly get
the feel for all there is to do and see along the seawall in
biggest change to the Galveston Seawall is probably the re-opening
of the Galveston Pleasure Pier in June of 2012. At about 3:06 you
start to see a clear shot on the right side of the old Flagship
Hotel. This is now the site of the new Galveston Pleasure Pier. You can see
pictures and more information about the Galveston Pleasure Pier if you go to
our website home page here.