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Galveston County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texasmarker within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area. As of the 2007 U.S. Census estimate, the population was 283,987. Its county seat is Galvestonmarker. League Citymarker is the largest city in Galveston County in terms of population; [13700] between 2000 and 2005 it surpassed Galvestonmarker as the county's largest city.


One of the first major settlements in the area that is now Galveston County was the town of Campechemarker 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 Mexicanmarker rule where Galveston became a significant port through the Texas Revolution.

Galveston County was formally established under the Republic of Texas 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 Statesmarker and Galveston's importance continued to grow as it came to dominate the worldwide cotton trade. As railroads between Galveston, Harrisburg, Houstonmarker 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 Citymarker directly across the West Bay from Galveston with the hope of making it a competing port city. The port began operations just before the turn of the century.

The 1900 Galveston Hurricanemarker 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 Houstonmarker. Soon Houston and Texas City had outpaced Galveston as major ports.

The oil boom in Texas beganmarker 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. This trend reached its height with the rise of the Maceo crime syndicate which controlled Galvestonmarker establishing a business empire based on gambling, bootlegging, and prostitution. The island's entertainment business spread throughout the county with major casino districts in Kemahmarker and Dickinsonmarker 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 NASAmarker's Johnson Space Centermarker in 1963 soon created new growth opportunities for the county municipalities near Clear Lake and Harris Countymarker. The Clear Lake area communities in Harris and Galveston Counties soon became more tied toward each other which 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. And Texas City has become an important petrochemical center.


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 Baymarker 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 Mexicomarker.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 873 square miles (2,261 km²), of which, 398 square miles (1,032 km²) of it is land and 474 square miles (1,229 km²) of it (54.35%) is water.

Major Highways

Adjacent counties


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.

Congressional and Legislative Representation

United States Congress

Senators Name Party First Elected Level
  Senate Class 1 Kay Bailey Hutchison Republican 1993 Senior Senator
  Senate Class 2 John Cornyn Republican 2002 Junior Senator
Representatives Name Party First Elected Area(s) of Galveston County Represented
  District 14 Ron Paul Republican 1996 (also served 1976-1977 and 1979-1985) Galveston, Dickinson, League City, Jamaica Beach, Kemah, most of Texas City
  District 22 Pete Olson Republican 2008 La Marque, Santa Fe, part of Texas City

Texas Legislature

Texas Senate

District Name Party First Elected Area(s) of Galveston County Represented
  11 Mike Jackson Republican 1999 Galveston County Mainland and part of Galveston Island
  17 Joan Huffman Republican 2008 Part of Galveston Island & all of Bolivar Peninsula

Texas House of Representatives

District Name Party First Elected Area(s) of Galveston County Represented
  23 Craig Eiland Democrat 1994 Galveston, Jamaica Beach, Texas City, Port Bolivar, Crystal Beach, Gilchrist & High Island
  24 Larry Taylor Republican 2002 Hitchcock, La Marque, Santa Fe, Dickinson, League City, Friendswood (Galveston County part), Algoa, Kemah, Clear Lake Shores
Galveston County Courts Building
Galveston County Administrative Courthouse
The Joe Max Taylor Galveston Law Enforcement Facility includes the main station of the Galveston County Sheriff's Office




Census-designated places

Unincorporated areas


School districts serving Galveston County communities are:

Higher Education

Galveston County is home to Texas A&M University at Galvestonmarker and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galvestonmarker.

Three community colleges also serve the area: College of the Mainland, Galveston Collegemarker and San Jacinto College.

Public Libraries

The Galveston County Library System operates libraries in most of the larger towns and cities. The Rosenberg Library in Galveston has the distinction of being the oldest public library in Texas and serves as the headquarters for the Galveston County Library System. Its librarian also functions as the Galveston County librarian.

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. As of 2007, this position in Galveston County is held by Judge James D. Yarbrough. 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.

Hospital services

Galveston County is served by a major medical complex in Galveston and a private for-profit hospital in Texas City.

The University of Texas Medical Branchmarker in Galveston is a 1,200 bed, major medical complex of seven hospitals. The main general care hospital is John Sealy Hospital with other on-campus hospitals specializing in women, children, burn victims, geriatrics and psychiatrics. Currently, UTMB is certified as a Level I Trauma Center and serves as the lead trauma facility for the nine-county region in southeast Texas, including the Greater Houston area.

The Mainland Medical Center, 233 bed, private, for-profit, hospital operates in Texas City.


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

Privately-owned airports for private use include:

The closest airport with regularly scheduled commercial service is William P.marker Hobby Airportmarker located in Houstonmarker in adjacent Harris Countymarker. The closest airport with regularly scheduled international commercial service is George Bush Intercontinental Airportmarker in Houston in Harris County.

Private heliports for private use include:


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.


The Galveston County Jail is located at 5700 Avenue H in Galveston.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice and University of Texas Medical Branchmarker manage health care facilities for prisoners in Galveston, Galveston County. The facilities include the co-gender Galveston Hospital for prisoners in Galveston and the Young Medical Facility Complex for females in Texas Citymarker.


External links

Further reading

  • Petitt, Jr., B.M. and A.G. Winslow. (1957). Geology and ground-water resources of Galveston County, Texas [U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 1416]. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

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