Strand National Historic Landmark District


Strand National Historic Landmark District

Infobox_nrhp
name = Strand National Historic Landmark District
nrhp_type = nhld



caption = The Strand
location = Galveston, Texas USA
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designated=May 11, 1976
added = January 26, 1970
refnum=70000748
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The Strand District, in downtown Galveston, Texas (USA), is a National Historic Landmark District of mainly Victorian era buildings that now house restaurants, antique stores, and curio shops. The area is a major tourist attraction for the island city and also plays host to two very popular seasonal festivals. It is widely considered the island's shopping and entertainment center.

The street labeled "The Strand" is actually named Avenue B, which runs parallel to Galveston Bay.cite news | url=http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/SS/ghs1.html | title=The Strand | publisher=Handbook of Texas Online | author=Hartman, Betty | accessdate=2007-01-08] Today "the Strand" is generally used to refer to the entire five-block business district between 20th and 25th streets in downtown Galveston, very close to the city's wharf.

History

The original plat of Galveston, drawn in the late 1830s, includes Avenue B, but the origins of its nickname are unknown. Some have speculated that it was named after the well-known Strand in London. (The word "strand" comes from the Old English word for "shore" or "river bank"; in German, Swedish and Dutch, the word means "beach".)The Strand's very earliest buildings were typically wooden and vulnerable to fires and storms that hit the island frequently throughout the 19th century. Eventually those structures were replaced with iron-fronted brick buildings. The two oldest buildings still standing on the Strand date to 1855 and 1858; other historic buildings date back typically to the 1870s and 1880s.

Throughout the 19th century, the port city of Galveston boomed; and the Strand, which is very close to the harbor, grew into the region's main business center. For a time, it was known as the "Wall Street of the Southwest."

Because of the port of Galveston's enormous vessel traffic (between 700 and 1,400 vessels annually), the Strand became a popular place for major businesses to locate, including the state's five largest banks at the time, wholesalers, commission merchants, cotton brokers, attorneys and slave auctioneers. In 1881, businesses in the Strand district sold about US$38 million worth of merchandise and services. Between 1838 and 1842, 18 newspapers were started; The Galveston News, founded in 1842, is the lone survivor.Because of the Strand's close proximity to Galveston's harbor, the area suffered some damage during several battles during the Civil War, particularly when Union forces barricaded the city. During the Battle of Galveston, Confederate forces fought from every corner of the area; several buildings suffered damage from shots and shelling. The battles forced many businesses to close and move to nearby Houston until the war's end. But most moved back into their regular quarters and enjoyed prosperity until the turn of the next century.The Galveston hurricane of 1900 was devastating to much of the city, and the Strand district was no exception. Many of its buildings suffered catastrophic damage — some buildings lost entire floors, others lost elaborate cornices and flourishes. Many businesses elected to move away from the wharf and, by default, away from the Strand. The area became a warehouse district, and was not revived until the 1960s when the Junior League of Galveston County restored two buildings.

That restoration effort sparked a revitalization project that is still ongoing. In 1973 the Galveston Historical Foundation followed suit, creating a trust fund for dramatic restorations of the Strand district that has sparked significant private investment as well.

Present day

Today the Strand features shops, historical exhibits, museums, art galleries and many restaurants and night clubs. It is also the location of a very popular annual Mardi Gras celebration, as well as a Christmas festival known as Dickens on the Strand, which celebrates the city's Victorian heritage with actors roaming the streets of the Strand in period dress.cite web | url=http://www.dickensonthestrand.org | title=Dickens on the Strand | accessdate=2006-11-03]

Attractions within the area include The Galveston County Museum, the Galveston Railroad Museum, Victorian architecture, horse and carriage rides, historical markers, an old fashioned trolley for transportation, and a giant chess set in Saengerfest Park. The historic district also contains a variety of retailers, including clothing, factory outlets, souvenir shops, art galleries, antique galleries.

On the outer edges of the Strand is the Post Office district, known for its antique and art galleries and the Grand 1894 Opera House. Closer to the water is Pier 21, which has daily showings of the movie "The Great Storm of 1900", the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum, and the Texas Seaport Museum with tall ship Elissa.

References

Further reading

*Howard Barnstone, "The Galveston That Was" (New York: Macmillan, 1966).
*Virginia Eisenhour, "The Strand of Galveston" (Galveston, 1974).
*Charles Waldo Hayes, "Galveston: History of the Island and the City" (2 vols., Austin: Jenkins Garrett, 1974).
*David G. McComb, Galveston: "A History" (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986).

External links

* [http://www.galveston.com Galveston.com]
* [http://www.TheStrand.com The Strand's web site]
* [http://www.dickensonthestrand.org Dickens on the Strand]
* [http://www.tsm-elissa.org/ Texas Seaport Museum, with information on the tall ship Elissa]
* [http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/SS/ghs1.html Handbook of Texas Online entry for the Strand]
*Nrhp source1|TX|Galveston|state2


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