Historic Downtown Galveston is more than just an economic engine; it’s the very heart and soul of our city. Magnificent Victorian-era buildings offer a doorway into our storied and colorful past and a window into our possible future.
All of Galveston grew from the dreams envisioned in these streets. The Strand, Pier 21, Postoffice District and West Market areas offer a rare fusion of historic architecture and culture. This eclectic blend never fails to charm locals and visitors alike. The crowds may come for our beaches, but many return to revisit the unique pockets of downtown.
We’re fortunate to have this rare treasure, and we cannot afford to lose it. This isn’t a cookie-cutter manicured strip mall that will seamlessly reopen as their visitors return. This is a 36-block district full of charm and character that embodies the essence of Galveston’s community.
The businesses that make this district what it is are not owned by major chain stores or franchises but by our neighbors. They employ your children and other local family members.
The vitality and offerings of these shops, boutiques, galleries, theaters, restaurants bars and coffeehouses are not only crucial to visitors but a key reason we’ve seen a steady increase in residential growth downtown.
COVID-19 is severely impacting our local businesses and the reality is we may permanently lose some.
We have to act now. In the past few years, with the help of the city, Park Board of Trustees and our community, downtown Galveston had begun to see a rebirth. Businesses were starting to thrive, and the number of visitors to the downtown districts was increasing. Now the pulse of this once-strong district has been hit again.
As if hurricanes, tropical storms and continued downtown flooding weren’t enough, we’ve now been introduced to COVID-19. These businesses have been decimated by mandated closures, public fear of venturing out to support local businesses and the ease that the Amazons of the world have brought us.
If we don’t support our businesses now many of them are looking at permanently closing. Unlike other disasters, there’s no insurance for COVID-19. Our community must be that insurance for their survival.
Businesses are already starting to close, but there’s a window of opportunity if we work together. It requires all of us to change recent habits. Step away from the simplicity of web shopping; instead step out and visit your locally owned businesses.
Please step out and bring the jobs to our community and your families. Many of these businesses offer curbside pickup, home delivery, private shopping appointments and online shopping, so think locally before you click for your next purchase. Show your support by joining the Galveston Arts Center, the Railroad Museum, the Galveston Symphony and supporting The Grand 1894 Opera House and Island East-End Theatre Co.
Galveston has a long history of being able to overcome adversity and be a catalyst for change. We must steward our struggling downtown business area back to health and offer relief to these mom- and pop-owned businesses, which are the personification of our beautiful island.