Page 31 - Galveston Monthly - September 2017

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SEPTEMBER 2017 |
GALVESTON MONTHLY |
31
Image courtesy of Rosenberg Library
The Beginnings of
Galveston’s
Grand Avenue
T
he entrance point of Galveston’s
original, 19
th
century rail bridge
was chosen for fiscal and logistical
efficiency at the time of its construction,
but the implications of the choice
would echo down the halls of history
and forever define the island’s first
impression for the majority of its millions
of annual visitors.
The bridge traveled from Virginia
Point on the mainland over to the tip
of a small peninsula along Galveston’s
northern shoreline, between the bay
and Offatts Bayou, a location that also
happened to be exactly parallel to the
city’s bustling downtown commercial
district. Initially, the railroad served one
distinct purpose—the outlet and inlet for
domestic and international cargo—and
the potential of Galveston’s thriving port
could not be realized without it.
Interested and invested parties in this
potential were eager to supplement
Galveston’s ideal harbor with a more
dependable and efficient means of
connecting the rest of the country with
their ability to facilitate ships coming and
going all over the world.
Thus trains loaded with the grains of
the Midwest would journey precariously
over the bay and make their descent
onto the island, and from there, the
tracks traveled the almost straight
line to downtown. They ran along the
harbor-side of the small peninsula to the
city limits of 57
th
Street and continued
to their ultimate rendezvous point, a
railyard situated at the foot of the Strand
between 25
th
and 29
th
Streets. Some cars
were loaded and unloaded right there,
others were sent directly down to the
wharves via more tracks that ran along
the dock.
Where commercial cargo was
concerned, Broadway Avenue was never
a factor. What would eventually become
Galveston’s grand throughway, at the
time ended precisely at the original city
limit, a full half a mile away from where
the railroad tracks crossed it. To the west
of Broadway’s stopping point was the
peninsula, undeveloped except for the
tracks, and to the east was a burgeoning
residential district seemingly worlds away
from the vibrant and boisterous trappings
of downtown.
An early survey map indicates a path
sketched from the bridge’s entry point
over to Broadway and 57
th
, but at most it
was a wagon path from a ferry landing,
or simply an idea for the future, because
the automobile was decades from being
mass-produced and even further from
having direct access to the island.
Back within the city confines, the
esplanade down the center of Broadway
B r o a d way B o u n d
Pa r t i i
By Kimber Fountain
Broadway c. 1919
Past & Present