Photo of sunrise at Galveston 1900 Hurricane Memorial

The Galveston 1900 Hurricane Memorial. Photo by Tom McCarthy Jr.

While many beach towns across the country can become indistinguishable in our minds, there’s no place quite like Galveston. That’s due partly to the city’s deep history—its first-known human visitors were the Karankawas, who hunted and fished on the island. It’s also the presumed location of the 1528 shipwreck of the state’s first historian, Ávar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. Galvestonians’ indefatigable spirit is equally compelling. Their resilience saw the port city through the devastation of the 1900 hurricane following its glory days in the late 1800s, and countless booms and busts over the ensuing century. In our cover story, contributing writer John Nova Lomax paints a definitive portrait of the town while illuminating its current renaissance.

Lomax has an intimate knowledge of the city, which he calls an extension of home—he’s fairly certain his first trip there was in utero. The seventh-generation Gulf Coast Texan recalls nostalgic highlights such as a weeklong childhood beach house vacation with his aunts and visits to the now-defunct Sea-A-Rama—“a budget version of Sea World.”

Enjoying this article?

“There is nothing like going to sleep after a long day in the sun and surf, the waves and gulls still echoing in your ears and the sight of breakers burned into the back of your eyes,” Lomax says. “When I would pick up a Galveston sea-shell during exiles in Nashville and hold it to my ear, the sound of the ocean inside would almost make me cry.”

Despite the hazards that can accompany a visit to Galveston—Google “tar balls” and “stinky sargassum”—the beach haven has always had Lomax’s back. He relates another memory of a trip as a new parent with his toddler son in tow. Lomax buried his wallet in the sand before joining his family for a swim and promptly forgot about it until he was back in Houston. His expectations were low on his rescue mission, but he found it right where he had left it. “I found a stray $20 bill to boot,” he adds. “Not mine—just a little gift from the sea.” That’s Galveston. Despite myriad trials and tribulations, it always comes back, bearing new gifts.

Emily Roberts Stone
Editor in Chief

Get more Texas in your inbox

Sign up for our newsletters and never miss a moment of what’s happening around the state.