Galveston County, Texas facts for kids

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Galveston County, Texas
Seal of Galveston County, Texas
Map
Map of Texas highlighting Galveston County
Location in the state of Texas
Map of the USA highlighting Texas
Texas's location in the U.S.
Statistics
Founded 1838
Seat Galveston
Largest City League City
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

874 sq mi (2,264 km²)
378 sq mi (979 km²)
495 sq mi (1,282 km²), 57%
Population
 - (2010)
 - Density

291,309
770/sq mi (297/km²)
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website: www.co.galveston.tx.us
Named for: City of Galveston

Galveston County (/ˈɡælvstən/ GAL-viss-tən) is a county in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 291,309. Its county seat is Galveston. League City is the most populous city in Galveston County; between 2000 and 2005 it surpassed Galveston as the county's largest city. The county was founded in 1838.

Galveston County is part of the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area.

History

One of the first major settlements in the area that is now Galveston County was the town of Campeche on Galveston Island, created by the pirate Jean Lafitte. Lafitte created a prosperous pirate kingdom around the Galveston Bay until the United States Navy ousted him from the area. The area came under Mexican rule where Galveston became a significant port through the Texas Revolution.

Galveston County was formally established under the Republic of Texas on May 15, 1838. The county was formed from territory taken from Harrisburg, Liberty, and Brazoria counties, with governmental organization taking place in 1839. The island and city of Galveston was by far the most important population center. The city of Galveston was the republic's largest city and its center of commerce and culture. Port Bolivar on the Bolivar Peninsula was a port of secondary importance. Other development in the area was initially mostly ranching interests and small farming communities. Texas soon joined the United States and Galveston's importance continued to grow as it came to dominate the worldwide cotton trade. As railroads between Galveston, Harrisburg, Houston and other towns were built during the 19th century, small communities grew up along the rail lines. Nevertheless, Galveston still dominated. At the end of the 19th century, a group of investors established Texas City directly across the West Bay from Galveston with the hope of making it a competing port city. The port began operations just before the start of the 20th century.

Map of Galveston County
Map of Galveston County in 1879

The 1900 Galveston Hurricane devastated the county killing an estimated 6000 people on the island alone and numerous others in the rest of the county. The Port of Galveston was closed for some time as rebuilding occurred. The Port of Texas City, however, was able to re-open almost immediately allowing shipping through Galveston County to continue largely unimpeded and proving the merit of the new port city.

Investors had long worried that the Texas coast was a dangerous place to establish major commercial operations because of the threat of hurricanes, and the 1900 disaster seemed to prove that. Though Galveston rebuilt its port and other major operations quickly, major investment moved inland, largely to Houston. Soon Houston and Texas City had outpaced Galveston as major ports.

The oil boom in Texas began in 1901 and soon pipelines and refineries were built in Texas City. Industrial growth blossomed, especially during World War II. Galveston's manufacturing sector, however, was more stagnant during the 20th century.

Galveston, traditionally an attractive tourist destination even before the storm, transformed itself into a major, nationally known destination. The island's entertainment business spread throughout the county with major casino districts in Kemah and Dickinson enabled by a lax attitude among law enforcement in the county (Houstonians often humorously referred to the Galveston County line as the Maceo-Dickinson line). The county prospered as oil fueled Texas City's industrial growth and wealthy tourists flocked to Galveston and the other entertainment districts.

The gambling empire was destroyed in the 1950s as state law enforcement finally dismantled it. Galveston's economy crashed as did the economies of some other county municipalities that were dependent on tourism. Texas City's economy weathered the storm because of its strong industry.

The establishment on NASA's Johnson Space Center in 1963 soon created new growth opportunities for the county municipalities near Clear Lake and Harris County. The Clear Lake area communities in Harris and Galveston Counties soon became more tied toward each other while the island of Galveston languished for many years as businesses increasingly left for the mainland.

Tourism, of the more legitimate variety, has gradually redeveloped in the county, both on the island and on the mainland, and today has become a major industry in the county. Aerospace and related service industries continue to be important in the Clear Lake area of the county. Texas City has become an important petrochemical center.


Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 874 square miles (2,260 km2), of which 378 square miles (980 km2) is land and 495 square miles (1,280 km2) (57%) is water.

Galveston County is located on the plains of the Texas Gulf Coast in the southeastern part of the state. The county is bounded on the northeast by Galveston Bay and on the northwest by Clear Creek and Clear Lake. Much of the county covers Galveston Bay, and is bounded to the south by the Galveston Seawall and beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.

Adjacent counties

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 4,529
1860 8,229 81.7%
1870 15,290 85.8%
1880 24,121 57.8%
1890 31,476 30.5%
1900 44,116 40.2%
1910 44,479 0.8%
1920 53,150 19.5%
1930 64,401 21.2%
1940 81,173 26.0%
1950 113,066 39.3%
1960 140,364 24.1%
1970 169,812 21.0%
1980 195,940 15.4%
1990 217,399 11.0%
2000 250,158 15.1%
2010 291,309 16.5%
Est. 2015 322,225 10.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
1850–2010 2010–2014

As of the census of 2000, there were 250,158 people, 94,782 households, and 66,157 families residing in the county. The population density was 628 people per square mile (242/km²). There were 111,733 housing units at an average density of 280 per square mile (108/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 72.69% White, 15.44% Black or African American, 0.47% Native American, 2.10% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 7.18% from other races, and 2.08% from two or more races. 17.96% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 94,782 households out of which 33.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.40% were married couples living together, 13.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.20% were non-families. 25.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.12.

In the county, the population was spread out with 26.70% under the age of 18, 8.70% from 18 to 24, 30.20% from 25 to 44, 23.30% from 45 to 64, and 11.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 95.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,419, and the median income for a family was $51,435. Males had a median income of $41,406 versus $28,703 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,568. About 10.10% of families and 13.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.60% of those under age 18 and 10.20% of those age 65 or over.

Political organization

The head of a Texas County, as set up in the Texas Constitution, is the County Judge, who sits as the chair of the county's Commissioners Court. The county is split into four geographical divisions called Precincts. Each precinct elects a Commissioner to sit as a representative of their precinct on the commissioners court and also for the oversight of county functions in their area.

Other elected positions in Galveston County include a county clerk, a district attorney, a district clerk, a county clerk, a sheriff, nine constables, a tax assessor-collector, a county treasurer, and every judge in the county except municipal judges, who are appointed by the officials of their respective cities.

Transportation

Major highways

  • I-45.svg Interstate 45
  • Texas 3.svg State Highway 3
  • Texas 6.svg State Highway 6
  • Texas 87.svg State Highway 87
  • Texas 146.svg State Highway 146

Airports

Scholes Field Terminal, Galveston
Scholes International Airport at Galveston

Scholes International Airport at Galveston (IATA: GLSICAO: KGLS), the county's sole publicly owned airport, is a two-runway airport located on Galveston Island in Galveston. The airport is primarily used for general aviation, offshore energy transportation, and some limited military operations.

Privately owned airports for private use include:

  • Creasy Airport is in an unincorporated area
  • Kami-Kazi Airport is in an unincorporated area

The closest airport with regularly scheduled commercial service is William P. Hobby Airport, located in Houston in adjacent Harris County. The Houston Airport System stated that Galveston County is also within the primary service area of George Bush Intercontinental Airport, an international airport in Houston in Harris County.

Private heliports for private use include:

  • University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston has two heliports: one for Ewing Hall and one for its emergency room
  • Republic Helicopters Heliport is in an unincorporated area, adjacent to Hitchcock

Rail

All rail traffic is currently industrial-related. Regularly scheduled passenger rail service in Galveston County ceased on April 11, 1967.

Mass transit

The City of Galveston is served by Island Transit, a public transportation agency.

Communities

Galveston County has unincorporated areas in several areas. Most of them are on the Bolivar Peninsula. Others are outside of Hitchcock and Santa Fe along Texas State Highway 6, and the three communities in the "Bayshore" area: Bacliff, San Leon, and Bayview.

Cities

Villages

Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Alta Loma, previously unincorporated, became a part of Santa Fe in 1978.

Images for kids


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