When in Galveston, visit The Strand. The Strand Historic District is the shopping, dining, and recreation destination for visitors to Galveston Island. Sure, you’ll pay tourist prices, but being surrounded by historical Victorian-era buildings and unique museums make up for it. This street holds well-preserved windows into 1800’s Texas. Read on to learn about the role The Strand played in developing the economy and diverse community of the southern United States and Texas.
Officially, The Stand is called Avenue B. The Stand covers five blocks of Avenue B from 20th Street to 25th Street. On The Strand, you will find restaurants, museums, souvenir shops, boutiques, and more. The Strand also hosts popular festivals each year including Galveston Mardi Gras and the Dickens on the Strand Christmas celebration.
Avenue B was nicknamed the ‘The Strand’ in the 1800s in order to make early businesses appealing to a higher-class clientele. The Strand was named after a street in London that was a popular shopping, theatre, and recreation district for the upper class. ‘Strand’ comes from the Old English term strond, which was used to describe a shore or riverbank.
In the mid-1800s, The Strand was home to shops housed in wooden structures. These were soon replaced with brick and iron buildings after the original structures were destroyed by storms. The district quickly expanded thanks to the popularity of Galveston’s ship channel. The Port of Galveston saw hundreds of ships each year, and that drew some of Texas’ biggest banks and merchants to the area. It was the go-to business center of the region and produced millions of dollars in goods and services in its prime.
During the Civil War, the business growth of Galveston was temporarily interrupted. Because of its coastal location, Galveston was the site of several battles that caused damage to the city. Businesses moved out of the area but later returned after the war.
In 1900, Galveston was hit by a catastrophic hurricane, known as the deadliest hurricane in the United States. Several businesses were destroyed, and owners decided not to return to the area this time. A few buildings on The Strand survived and can be seen today. The oldest buildings on The Strand date back to the 1850s.
The Strand as it is known today is all thanks to a restoration project that began in the 1960s. Visitors can now visit popular attractions like The Railroad Museum, art galleries, events, historical exhibits, and a variety of restaurants.