Galveston is the seat of Galveston County, southeast of Houston. It occupies virtually all of 32-mile Galveston Island, about two miles off the Texas mainland in the Gulf of Mexico, at the tip of I-45.
Galveston was surveyed by the Spanish in 1785. In 1836, the city site was purchased from the Republic of Texas by Michael B. Menard, who organized the Galveston City Company. A monstrous hurricane in 1900 killed about 6,000 people and left 8,000 homeless. In response, the city built a wall of steel, concrete and granite to guard against a recurrence.
Today Galveston draws its economic sustenance from the Port of Galveston, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and other health facilities, finance, shrimping, fishing and tourism. The city also is home to a Texas A&M University campus and Galveston College. The Texas Aviation Hall of Fame is one of many attractions. The community claims to hold the state's biggest Mardi Gras celebration.