PHOTOS: Greetings from vintage Galveston

Before the devastating 1900 hurricane Galveston was called the "New York of the South" for its cosmopolitan culture and diversity. People of great wealth lived there. It's said that 70 percent of all U.S. cotton shipped out of the Port of Galveston.

For most of its history the city of Galveston and the adjacent areas just south of Houston have played a major role in the development of the Gulf Coast region.

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It was where pirates and rogues once rubbed shoulders with Spanish agents. Where hurricanes have come and gone, taking Texans to watery graves.

Galveston Bay was a venue for a handful of minor naval battles in the Civil War, when its plum position on the coast made it a much-desired port.

Before the devastating 1900 hurricane, Galveston was called the "New York of the South" for its cosmopolitan culture and diversity. People of great wealth lived there. It's said that 70 percent of all U.S. cotton shipped out of the Port of Galveston.

It was one of the richest cities in America, but Mother Nature had other plans for its future.

1900 TRAGEDY: Looking back at the 1900 hurricane that wiped out Galveston

A great deal of immigrants coming to American made their way into the Promised Land via Galveston, before and after that 1900 storm. As the largest city in Texas at the time, it was the place to get your life in the Lone Star State started.

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Media: Southern Living

These days it's an underrated jewel along the Texas coast. It's bounced back from the pounding that Hurricane Ike gave it back in September 2008 and is growing year by year as a major tourist destination.

It has a unique feel to it and a certain spirit remains in the air, perhaps an amalgamation of centuries of visitors. A walk down The Strand on a humid night can be oddly refreshing, and it's a recommended stop for anyone needing the full Texas experience.

Click through the slideshow above to see rare photos of Galveston Island as it evolved over the years through tragedy and success...

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