Galveston Island 's Rich History
Loading Cotton at Galveston's Port Downtown Galveston First Building at UTMB
Galveston Island began attracting visitors long ago, when Native Americans came here to fish.
Inhabited by pirates in the 1820s (the most famous being Jean Lafitte) and early Texas settlers in the 1830s, Galveston became a major commercial center in the mid-19th Century because of her natural deepwater port.
Ships came from all over the world, carrying fruit, building materials and immigrants, and departed Galveston loaded with cotton. The Island controlled the world's cotton market for years, and that spawned trading houses, banks, land speculators and seed, hardware and dry goods suppliers. Galveston was the largest city west of New Orleans through much of the 1800s, and The Strand near the port was called "The Wall Street of the Southwest."
Near the end of the 1800s, the State of Texas established the first medical school west of the Mississippi. The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) became the state's leading educator of doctors, nurses and medical professionals and a major health science and research center.