Galveston Listed as Dead

The reports of our death have been greatly exagarated! A blog 24/7 Wall St. Claims that Galveston is one the 10 dead cities in America.

This Texas city was one of the largest ports in the US a hundred years ago. It was also the location of one of the greatest natural disasters in American history. In 1900, a hurricane killed between 6,000 and 8,000 people. In the decades after the hurricane, Galveston became a major tourist center due to its location on the Gulf and proximity to several larger Texas cities. Galveston was also a major military recruitment center during WWII. The cause of Galveston’s demise is unique. It had become something of the Sodom and Gomorrah of the southern US. There was a large gambling industry there, some of it illegal, which was controlled by criminals. In the late 1950s,Texas state authorities successfully attacked local organized crime. The regulated tourist trade could not replace the illegal business. Galveston’s port and hospitality industries had begun to improve, but where trampled by the effects of Hurricane Ike in 2008. The event destroyed a large part of the city’s tax base, and set back the tourism industry once again.

The Houston Press explains our sentiments:

Galveston is upset. Not so much about being called “the Sodom and Gomorrah of the southern US,” but on being called dead.

Ike came in and kicked our butts, but Galveston is on mend and remains a thriving beautiful town.   It is diverse and a place where the wealthy and the not so wealthy live a good quality of life.  We will never have a lot of population growth, but we are an island after all, there is only so much room.  Galveston is still a small town at under 50 Thousand.  But we have so much to offer both those that live here and those that visit. My guess is that Douglas A. McIntyre has never even been to Galveston.

The Daily Galveston Daily News sums up a few facts that people have gathered:

Island financier Shrub Kempner was not party to the e-mail exchanges, but he did have a comment about the website article.

He said: “What’s important to realize is that Galveston has a far better jobs-to-population ratio than any American city other than Huntsville with its large prison community.

“We have some 30,000 full-time-equivalent jobs in a city now housing less than 50,000 permanent inhabitants. That’s a ratio that economic development people slaver over.”

He said McIntyre was right about the declining population but wrong about the city’s economic engines.

“The University of Texas Medical Branch alone has some 11,000 jobs, the port and tourism several thousand each and also the island’s financial industry, which everyone usually ignores,” he said.

“To say the city is dead is nonsense. It’s just silliness. Most people elsewhere would give a part of their anatomy for our jobs situation.”

Council Responds

Galveston City Council’s official response to 247wallst.com’s ranking of the city among “America’s Ten Dead Cities” was contained in a press release that listed the positive aspects of life on the island.

Among its observations were:

• Galveston hosts about 5 million visitors annually;

• These visitors generate an $800 million economic impact to the island each year;

• The Port of Galveston is bustling with grain, cargo and cruise ship operations;

• Next year, two new cruise ships, the Carnival Magic and the Carnival Triumph, will call Galveston home and dock along the island’s waterfront;

• Galveston is ranked as the fourth-busiest cruise port in the nation and generates $1.1 billion in direct spending in Texas;

• Contractors are working to restore University of Texas Medical Branch buildings affected by Hurricane Ike and, by the end of 2010, almost 1,000 contract workers will be employed helping to rebuild the campus;

• The medical branch’s Blocker Burn Unit, world renowned for its innovations in the treatment of burns, is undergoing a $10 million renovation; and

• The class size for the medical branch’s school of medicine is back to capacity, at 230 students.

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