() is a city in and seat of Galveston County located on Galveston Island on the Gulf Coast in the U.S. state of Texas within the metropolitan area. As of the 2005 U.S. Census estimate, the city had a total population of 57,466. Galveston is accessible by the Galveston Causeway linking Galveston Island to the mainland on the north end of the city, a toll bridge on the western end of the island, and by ferry boat service on the east end of the city. Galveston is the second-largest city in Galveston County in population after League City.
Galveston is known for the hurricane that struck it in 1900. The natural disaster that followed still counts as the most deadly in American history. A 10-mile (16-km) long, 17-foot (5.18 m) high seawall protects the city from floods and hurricane storm surge.
The city's tourist attractions include the Galveston Schlitterbahn waterpark, Moody Gardens botanical park, the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum, the Lone Star Flight Museum, a downtown neighborhood of historic buildings known as The Strand, many historical museums and mansions, and miles of beach front. The Strand plays host to a yearly Mardi Gras festival, Galveston Island Jazz & Blues Festival and a Victorian-themed Christmas festival called Dickens on the Strand (honoring the works of novelist Charles Dickens, especially
) in early December. Galveston was also home to the Balinese Room, an historic nightclub, formerly a notorious illegal gambling hall, which was located on a pier extending into the Gulf of Mexico.
Galveston is a popular tourist destination which in 2007 brought $808 million to the local economy and attracted 5.4 million visitors. More than 9,300 city jobs are in the tourism industry, representing 30 percent of the work force.
The city is the home of one the largest teaching hospitals in the state, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, which employed 12,000 people prior to Hurricane Ike. Ike severely damaged the 500-bed John Sealy Hospital causing the University of Texas System Board of Regents to cut nearly one-third of the hospital staff. Since the storm, the regents have committed to spending $713 million dollars to restore the campus, construct new medical towers, and return John Sealy Hospital to its 500+ bed pre-storm capacity. Furthermore, the university is working towards reopening their Level I Trauma Center, which had been forced to close after the hurricane.
The Port of Galveston, also called Galveston Wharves, began as a trading post in 1825. Today, the port has grown to of port facilities. The port is located on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, on the north side of Galveston Island, with some facilities on Pelican Island. The port has facilities to handle all types of cargo including containers, dry and liquid bulk, breakbulk, RO/RO, refrigerated, and project cargoes. The port of Galveston also serves as a passenger cruise ship terminal for cruise ships operating in the Caribbean. It homports 2 Carnival Cruise Lines vessels the Carnival Conquest and the Carnival Ecstasy. It also homeports Royal Caribbean International, Voyager of the seas, which is the largest cruise ship ever to be based is Galveston.
American National Insurance Company, one of the largest life insurance companies in the United States, and Moody National Bank are headquartered in Galveston.