GALVESTON - I came across a pretty cool web tool today, created by the United States Geological Survey. 

Called the Topographic Map Explorer, the site allows people to search through the USGS’s maps dating back to 1884.

The oldest map of Galveston dates back to 1933, and there are other maps to check out, up to 1994.

To use the maps go to the website. Enter the place you want to see in the search bar, then click the location that appears on the screen to bring up the available historic maps.

You can play with the sliders on the left side of the screen to make the maps more or less transparent as you overlay.

I’ve been writing a lot lately about the future of development in the city, so it’s interesting to see pictures of Galveston as it went through those developments. 

I think two of the coolest maps to compare are the ones from 1943 and 1954. You can really see the city beginning to expand its boundaries past traditional lines, such as the original end of the seawall.

It’s also interesting to see how some of the water features change as development progressed. It appears many inlets were covered or filled in as people made their way to the island.

Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or

(4) comments

Steve Fouga

Great site, but I can't get it to work. All I get is the present-day map, with the ability to zoom. Either I'm doing something wrong, I need to change a setting, it doesn't like my Mac, or something...

Ellen Morrison

Jake, once you enter Galveston and get the first map, then you click on the map where it says "Galveston Island". Then you will get a timeline at the bottom with various maps.

Hope this helps.

Steve Fouga

Got it! Thanks for the help!

Ron Shelby

Very Cool! Thanks Ferguson and GDN!

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