Island Of Galveston
'The Galveston Tragedy"
Article from 'The Cosmopolitan'
November, 1900



By John Fay

On the evening of Friday, September 7th, Galveston was serene, picturesque and charming. The famous beach of glistening white sand, packed as hard as asphalt, which fringed the saffron waters of the gulf, was alive with merrymakers. The soft note of music came pleasing to the ear. Beneath the palms of Broadway men and women in tropic attire chatted and sauntered. Cottage balconies held thousands eager to catch the soft gulf breeze. Troops of shouting children reveled in the waters that laved the sand.
.....It was the last night on earth for more than five thousand souls. Between noon on Saturday and midnight, one-seventh of the city's population was exterminated. Suffocated in angry waters or crushed by crumbling walls, they went to their death. An area equal to one-third of the territory covered by the city was swept clean, the wreckage piled up twelve hundred feet back from the building-line on the beach, paralleling the water for four miles. Streets and landmarks were effaced. Men who attempted two days later to find the sites of their homes,
became confused in the sand. The property loss is still a matter of speculation--of speculation in millions. The whole island was submerged. The gulf and the bay, pushed from their beds, rushed through the streets with a hurricane accompaniment, and struggled for possession. The depth of water ranged from four feet in the higher places to fifteen feet on the lower level. Under normal conditions this city of thirty-eight thousand is but five feet above the sea-level. There is little tide. As one approaches from the sea, the city appears springing from the bosom of the water. Land is not in sight. Like a floating spectacle of fairyland Galveston greets the eye. Not until the harbor is entered is the long tongue of sand back of the Jetties, the treacherous site of the city, discernible.
..... is a sandbar twenty-five miles in length east and west, and varying from one to two miles in width. It was settled in 1847, and tradition has it that prior title was vested in the person of pirate Lafitte. There he fled with his buccaneers and the plunder of the Spanish
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