Mythic Galveston: Reinventing America's Third Coast

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JHU Press, 2002 - Architecture - 175 pages
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Despite its appeal as a natural harbor, Galveston, Texas, is located on a small Gulf Coast barrier island that makes it ill-suited for dense urban development. Early American and European settlers envisioned Galveston harbor as a place with tremendous economic potential, appropriate for urban expansion. In Mythic Galveston: Reinventing America's Third Coast, Susan Wiley Hardwick examines Galveston's rapid rise and the myth created by immigrants and boosters to promote the vision of an abundant island with a highly temperate, even tropical, climate, ideal for settlement. Hardwick's historical analysis focuses on immigrant settlement patterns and the important contributions to Galveston's evolving sense of place made by diverse ethnic and racial groups.

As the Ellis Island of the Third Coast, Galveston served as a major gateway for immigrants heading for the Great Plains, the West, and other parts of North America during the latter part of the nineteenth century and into the early part of the twentieth century. Galveston's reputation as an ethnically diverse and cosmopolitan city fostered a myth of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic harmony. Although such harmony was largely illusory, Hardwick argues that Galveston was a truly global city from the earliest days of settlement, giving it a social ambience distinct from that of the mainland. Mythic Galveston vividly illustrates how a place especially vulnerable to the forces of nature has grown into a culturally vibrant city within America's Third Coast.


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Juan de Grijalva is incorrectly credited as the discoverer of the Galveston Island in this as well as other books... Juan de Grijalva explored the Southern Mexico coastline to Campeche. Alonso Alvarez de Pineda explored the Gulf Coast toward Florida.
I believe the misconception is because Lafitte also named his Galveston refuge Campeche some confused the two and gave credit to the wrong individual and a lack of research allowed the mistake to be printed in book format. This error was repeated on the Texas Handbook web site, I presented the conflicting evidence to support my claims... the following is the reply:
Dear Mr. Hada,
Earlier this week we spoke over the phone about your questions on the discoverer of Galveston Island. This is a follow-up to that conversation. With the help of our Spanish Texas advisor, Don Chipman, we found that indeed you brought up some very important points that made us reexamine two of our articles--Galveston Island and Galveston County, both of which credit Juan de Grijalva as the discoverer. (Our article on Galveston County declares him to be the discoverer outright.)
This is in error, and this is the passage that I am adding to both articles to clear up this misconception:
"In 1519 the Alonso Alvarez de Pineda expedition sailed past Galveston Island en route from the Florida peninsula to the Panuco River. Pineda may or may not have actually seen the island, however, Spain lay claim to the entire Gulf Coast, including Galveston Island, based on the 1519 Pineda expedition."
I have deleted the reference to Grijalva altogether, and you will notice the 1519 date, which is correct.
So, we thank you very much for bringing this to our attention and for helping keep the Handbook as accurate as possible. Feel free to contact me anytime if you have questions or corrections.
Laurie E. Jasinski
Research Editor
Handbook of Texas


Birth of a Global City
The Galveston Movement
The Reinvention of People and Place

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Page 165 - The Revolution of 1848 and the Jewish "On to America

About the author (2002)


Susan Wiley Hardwick is an associate professor of geography at the University of Oregon.

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