Vintage Travel to do list Galveston Texas

Recently I was watching HGTV and they had an episode on about a couple buying a home in Galveston, Texas. I instantly loved the city and knew I needed to add it to my ‘Vintage Travel to do list’.

For today’s post lets take a look at some of the reasons and interesting historic points on why you and I should visit Galveston.

galveston-texas-vintage-postcard
Source: Postcard Roundup

Galveston is less than 60 miles from Houston and is the fourth largest city in the United States. It is an island, has a sub tropical climate and was founded by a Pirate, named Jean Lafitte.

In 1900 the city was hit with a devastating hurricane. After the storm, the city decided to shore up its defenses against future storms by building a permanent concrete seawall along a large portion of the beach front (source). This wall is still standing today.

Galveston Texas vintage postcard
Source: Flickr

1920’s to the 1950’s the city re-emerged as a major tourist destination centered on casinos and other vice businesses. Featuring venues such as the famed Balinese Room the city became nationally known as the sin city of the Gulf.

The Balinese Room. Originally opened in 1923 as the Chop Suey, then the Sui Jen a few year later. It finally became the Balinese Room in 1942 with its famed south seas motif.

Balinese Room

In its heyday, The Balinese played host to high rollers from all over the country, including local legends Glenn McCarthy, Diamond Jim West, and Howard Hughes. The showroom featured headliners such as Frank Sinatra, Sophie Tucker, Burns and Allen, Bob Hope, and Jack Benny. Long before Las Vegas attracted the big names to the desert, Maceo’s Balinese Room brought β€˜em to Galveston (source).

Frank Sinatra at the Balinese room
Frank Sinatra with Maceo

Balinese was raided many many times over the years for gambling but was never able to be shut down, until May 30th, 1957. It remained closed until 2003 when a new owner brought it back to its former glory. It lasted till 2008 when another storm unfortunately destroyed it, but the owner seems to want to rebuild in a new location according to his website. I do hope this comes true for Galveston and for vintage lovers like me.

Balinese Room New

Galveston is also home to the glamorous and historic, ‘Hotel Galvez‘.

location-of-hotel-galvez-and-spa-galveston-top
Source: Hotel Galvez

About:

  • This hotel is the only historic beachfront hotel left on the Gulf Coast of Texas
  • Bears the name of Bernardo de Galvez, who surveyed the area in 1786
  • Built with $1million after the famous and devastating 1900 storm
  • Opened on June 10th, 1911, at 6pm
  • Rooms were $2 per night in 1911
  • The hotel boasted modern, time-saving tools such as a potato peeling machine, an ice-maker, a dishwasher and an ice cream maker
  • Headquarters for the International Pageants of Pulchritude, the beauty pageants that were predecessors to the Miss Universe Pageant (1920-1932)
  • Temporary White House for FDR
  • Served as WWII Coast Guard Facility
  • Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin Stayed Here (most likely to sleep off a night of partying at the Balinese Room)
  • Room 501 is Haunted-Legend has it a seaman’s fiancΓ© was staying in room 501 when she heard his ship had sunk, and took her own life. Now she haunts the halls
  • (Source)
Galveston Beach, Sea Wall Boulevard and Hotel Galvez
Source: card cow

Inside Hotel Galvez

hotel-galvez-spa-a-wyndham-grand-hotel-photos-exterior

June 1928-Third International Pageant of Pulchritude held at the hotel.

international-pageants-of-pulchritude-1928-galveston-texas
Source: Shorpy Historic

One event I would love to attend is the Galveston Island Beach Revue which is a revival event of the first Bathing Girl Revue started in 1916 by the Galveston Beach Association (An organization formed early in the 20th century to promote tourism).

Want to see what the Bathing Revue was all about? Then check out the silent film below on the 1925 Revue (the swimsuit fashions are fantastic!).

Here is another video of Dorothy Weaver talking about her memories of the early days of the revue and the fun that was to be had on the beach.

Galveston is not just all beach there are also gorgeous Vintage Homes and even a East End Historical District.

galveston-texas-vintage-victorian-home
Source: guidrynews

The Bishop’s Palace-1892. WOW!

bishops_palace_galveston
Source:Wikipedia

The Grand Staircase of the Bishop Palace.

grand-staircase-bishop-palace
Source: Pinterest

Lastly, I must make note of the ‘Galveston World Famous Victorian Holiday Festival‘. This event looks like a lot of fun!

dickens-on-the-strand-galveston-texas
Source: Galveston Historical Foundation

 

Hope you enjoyed this brief tour of Galveston, now who wants to join me to discover what else this beautiful city has to offer? AND if you have been there, please share what one should see when visiting.

Liz

 

13 comments on “Vintage Travel To Do List: Galveston,Texas”

  1. Holy smokes. I live a 4 hour drive and didn’t realize all that coolness was in Galveston. I sent you blog to my honey to show him we need to do Galeveston.

    If you make it over here, Please contact me and we can meet in person!

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed for ya!

    • Oh you must go and visit! Go and scope out all the cool things to see and do! When the dollar gets better over here in Canada I would like to do more visits in the US and I will 100% drop you a line when we go πŸ™‚

    • Oh you must go and visit! Go and scope out all the cool things to see and do! When the dollar gets better over here in Canada I would like to do more visits in the US and I will 100% drop you a line when we go πŸ™‚

  2. Wow, Liz. I had no idea there were so many cool historic buildings in Galveston. That Balinese place must have been so much fun. I do love anything with a tiki theme! And the name “Pageant of Pulchritude” for the beauty contest gave me the giggles.

    Great post πŸ™‚

    • Oh how wonderful you finally got to move to a city you love! That is a good way to live πŸ™‚ Thanks for the kind words about my blog! Have a super day πŸ™‚

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