Click here: Galveston After Ike: Experiencing Galveston's history: one walking tour at a time

Review by Stephen Curley on April 5, 2009
The Galveston County Daily News

Author offers 9 splendid walks through Galveston

Walking Galveston with Jan Johnson’s book is like seeing with new eyes. She guides us through nine well chosen walks into some of Galveston’s most interesting neighborhoods. Each walk begins with a map. Some also suggest related driving tours. She includes both the familiar (The Strand, Broadway, the East End and the Silk Stocking historical districts) and unfamiliar (Kempner Park Neighborhood, the Lost Bayou District, Cedar Lawn and Denver Court). Her tips are useful and friendly. For instance, if you lunch at a restaurant, you can park for free in the lot. To protect privacy, she avoids naming current residents. But she tells us about former residences of prominent locals (like the Maceo and Moody families) and national celebrities (like Hollywood director King Vidor). Along the way we learn some historical tidbits. Did you know that the heyday of Galveston’s cotton presses ended when an 1890 law required them to operate closer to cotton fields? Or that, to discourage automobile traffic, the Denver Resurvey deliberately offset its streets half a block through what would otherwise have been alleyways? Each walk takes about an hour. Only the best buildings along the way are highlighted, some with photos. Architectural details and construction dates are well researched. But even better are gossipy tales of ghosts, bootleggers, prostitutes and the like. Walking my own neighborhood with her guidebook in hand was enlightening and engaging. I discovered things I had never known and found myself looking at familiar old houses with new understanding. You can argue about what should have been included, or what should have been left out. But once you complete any one of her walking tours you will know more about Galveston than almost all longtime residents. Jan Jonson is a fifth-generation Galvestonian. For more than 25 years, she has been one of the city’s most enthusiastic tour guides. This is her first book. Stephen Curley, a Regents professor of English at Texas A&M University at Galveston, lives in Galveston.

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