The city of Galveston thrived from after the Civil War (1865) until the great storm that destroyed the city (1900). Galveston’s port was the third busiest in the United States. The Strand (or “Avenue B"), the heart of the city’s business/financial district, was called the “Wall Street of Texas” and the “Wall Street of the Southwest.”
The Strand didn’t recover from the 1900 hurricane until the 1970s, when the area was revitalized for America’s 1976 Bicentennial. The nickname “Wall Street of the Southwest” has been used frequently since the 1970s, although pre-1970s printed citations are lacking.
Wikipedia: Strand National Historic Landmark District
The Strand District, in downtown Galveston, Texas (USA), is a National Historic Landmark District of mainly Victorian era buildings that now house restaurants, antique stores, and curio shops. The area is a major tourist attraction for the island city and also plays host to two very popular seasonal festivals. It is widely considered the island’s shopping and entertainment center.
The street labeled “The Strand” is actually named Avenue B, which runs parallel to Galveston Bay. Today “the Strand” is generally used to refer to the entire five-block business district between 20th and 25th streets in downtown Galveston, very close to the city’s wharf.
The original plat of Galveston, drawn in the late 1830s, includes Avenue B, but the origins of its nickname are unknown. Some have speculated that it was named after the well-known Strand in London. (The word strand comes from the Old English word for “shore” or “river bank”; in German, Swedish and Dutch, the word means “beach”.)
The Strand’s very earliest buildings were typically wooden and vulnerable to fires and storms that hit the island frequently throughout the 19th century. Eventually those structures were replaced with iron-fronted brick buildings. The two oldest buildings still standing on the Strand date to 1855 and 1858; other historic buildings date back typically to the 1870s and 1880s.
Throughout the 19th century, the port city of Galveston boomed; and the Strand, which is very close to the harbor, grew into the region’s main business center. For a time, it was known as the “Wall Street of the Southwest.”
Because of the port of Galveston’s enormous vessel traffic (between 700 and 1,400 vessels annually), the Strand became a popular place for major businesses to locate, including the state’s five largest banks at the time, wholesalers, commission merchants, cotton brokers, attorneys and slave auctioneers. In 1881, businesses in the Strand district sold about US$38 million worth of merchandise and services. Between 1838 and 1842, 18 newspapers were started; The Galveston News, founded in 1842, is the lone survivor.
Wikipedia: Gulf Coast of the United States
The Gulf Coast region of the United States comprises the coasts of states which border the Gulf of Mexico. The states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida are known as the Gulf States. All Gulf States are located in the Southern region of the United States.
Two major events were turning points in the earlier history of the Gulf Coast region. The first was the American Civil War, which caused severe damage to some economic sectors in the South, including the Gulf Coast. The second event was the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. At the end of the 19th century Galveston was, with New Orleans, one of the most developed cities in the region. The city had the third busiest port in the U.S. and its financial district was known as the “Wall Street of the Southwest.” The storm mostly destroyed the city (which has never regained its former glory) and set back development in the region.
The History of Galveston
Galveston Island has been occupied since the early 1500s, serving as a home to Akokisa Indians (once thought to be the Karankawa Indians), the infamous pirate Jean Lafitte, “little Ellis Island,” “the Wall Street of the Southwest,” the richest city in Texas and the site of the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.
The Strand was filled with wholesalers, cotton agents, paint, drug, grocery, hardware and dry goods stores, and insurance companies. The Strand became the “Wall Street of the Southwest” for the largest and most important wholesale houses west of the Mississippi River.
Galveston Island, Texas - The Strand
The Strand Historical District, Galveston’s downtown, was named after London’s famed Strand and was known in the 19th century as the Wall Street of the Southwest.
Today the Strand boasts one of the biggest collections of historic buildings in the United States, a favorite destination of tourists from all over the world.
Adding to the charm of the Victorian and early 20th century buildings are streetcars, horse-drawn carriages and a series of unique arches.
Handbook of Texas Online
STRAND. The Strand, or Avenue B, in Galveston, Texas, runs parallel to the bay. Included in the original plat of the city in the late 1830s, origins of Avenue B’s nickname are unknown. While the avenue extends throughout Galveston, the Strand has usually referred to the five-block business district situated between Twentieth and Twenty-fifth streets. Throughout the nineteenth century, the area was known as the “Wall Street of the Southwest,” serving as a major commercial center for the region. At that time a majority of goods and people came through Galveston to get to Texas, making the city and the Strand a vibrant, vital, and bustling place where deals were made, goods bought and sold, ships supplied, and people served. In the late nineteenth century Galveston harbor annually hosted between 700 to 1,400 vessels. Major businesses included the shipping and trading firm of McKinney and Williams as well as the state’s five largest banks. Wholesalers, commission merchants, cotton brokers, attorneys, and (prior to the Civil War) slave auctioneers all had offices on the Strand. Businessmen included Pierre J. Menard, Michel B. Menard, Samuel M. Williams, William L. Moody, Thomas F. McKinney, Gail Borden, Jr., James M. Brown, George Ball, and William Hendley. In 1881 $38 million worth of merchandise and services were sold through the various establishments in the district. Early buildings on the Strand were usually wooden and thus vulnerable to the frequent fires and storms that plagued the island throughout the nineteenth century. Eventually, owners began to replace the frame structures with iron-front brick buildings. Two buildings in Hendley Row date back to 1855 and 1859. The Berlocker Building located at Strand and Mechanic Street was built in 1858. Other historic buildings date back to the 1870s and 1880s. Nicholas J. Clayton,qv Galveston’s premier architect, designed fifteen commercial structures on the Strand. Eight of them still stand. During the Civil War, when the Union forces blockaded Galveston, many businesses on the Strand closed shop and moved to Houston for the duration of the war. The battle of Galveston was fought on the bay and on and around Kuhn’s Wharf at Twenty-first street. The Confederate forces on the island fought from every corner of the street. The Hendley buildings and several others sustained some damage from shots and shells. Most businesses returned after the war to enter a period of prosperity that lasted until the early 1900s.
August 1974, Texas Monthly, “Galveston’s Festival on the Strand,” pg. 20, col. 2:
The Strand, known as the Wall Street of Texas in the late nineteenth century, did $38 million worth of business in 1881; it boasted five of the state’s largest banking houses and 25 saloons and restaurants; and a carnival atmosphere usually associated with New Orleans’ French Quarter.
19 December 1974, Galveston (TX) Daily News, pg. 6A, col. 3:
According to the (Galveston Historical—ed.) foundation, authentic Dickensers candy, candied fruit, chestnuts, cakes, coffee, spirits and punch will be offered at various locations along the old main street of Galveston, once known as the “Wall Street of the Southwest.”
11 April 1976, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Galveston’s cultural renaissance brought into focus by Bincentennial” by Dan Watson, sec. G, pg. 6:
Along The Strand, another broad-based Bicentennial project is preserving Galveston’s Wall Street of the Southwest—the best collection of 19th century iron-front architecture surviving outside of Philadelphia.
28 June 1976, Big Spring (TX) Herald, “Galveston landmark undergoing refurbishing,” Pg. 3B, cols. 1-2:
A historic Galveston landmark, the Stewart Building, is undergoing refurbishing as apart of the city’s Bicentennial effort to restore and preserve “The Strand,” Texas’ most colorful business area of the 1880’s. The 93-year-old structure is located at the entrance to The Strand, Galveston’s nineteenth century commercial center, then known as “Wall Street of the Southwest.”
The area, which has become a major tourist attraction, includes one of the nation’s largest concentration of “iron front” buildings, a form of architecture popular a hundred years ago.
19 December 1976, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Galveston changing face from seaside to historical” by Pauline Crittenden, sec. G, pg. 7:
In 1973, aided by a grant from the Moody Foundation, the Historical Foundation acquired five blocks of The Strand, from 1850 to 1890 the financial center of Texas—“the Wall Street of the Southwest.”
18 November 1990, Galveston (TX) Daily News, “Happy 98th Birthday! A. Leon Farb,” pg. 2D, col. 1:
He remembers Strand Avenue B when he was a young man. “What a street it was,” he says, “busy, busy, busy with its commission house, wholesale grocery houses, ship suppliers, and the great companies that used to occupy our port, like Texas Gulf Supply, Mallory Line, the Morgan Line, Texas Star Flour Mills, and many more. Cotton trucks and trailers moved up and down the streets from morning to night. So many streets were made of brick and wooden blocks. Galveston was known as the ‘Wall Street of Texas’, but it slipped away as time went on.”
Galveston: A History of the Island
By Gary Cartwright
Fort Worth, TX: TCU Press
Galveston’s main business street, the Strand, became known as the Wall Street of the Southwest, and its ornate Victorian buildings were the envy of cities all over the country.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Saturday, August 01, 2009 • Permalink