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"Galveston: A City on Stilts" book review
By Tim Heller   - 02/19/2009

KTRK-13 ABC News

For me, one of the most fascinating events in Galveston's history was not the hurricane of 1900 but the raising of the island to protect the city from future storms.

A new book, "Galveston: A City on Stilts" looks back at the bold decision to build a seawall and raise the land behind it 17' above sea level. Now in its third printing, the book is published by the Galveston Historical Foundation and Arcadia Press.

How the book came about is as interesting as the story it tells. Zeva B. Edworthy arrived in Galveston shortly after the 1900 hurricane. He spent the next several years taking pictures around town, documenting the rebuilding of the island. Edworthy's family found the treasure box of photographs after his death and donated them to the Galveston Historical Foundation.

I have books that show a few pictures of Galveston from that time period, but there are over 200 pictures in "A City on Stilts." It's an amazing collection of photographs with narratives supplied by the Galveston County Historical Museum curators Jodi Wright-Gidley and Jennifer Marines. There are really four stories featured in the book: constructing the seawall; raising buildings up onto stilts; pumping in the sandy fill; and life on the island over a six-year period while all this was going on.

Since it's primarily a picture book, it's a quick read. But you won't be able to put the book down. The high-quality, black and white photographs show a view of Galveston you probably have never seen before. Wright-Gidley and Marines packed the pages with little-known facts that make the story of Galveston even more amazing. I only wished they had included a map of the island so those not familiar with the city could realize the enormity of the task taken on by city leaders over a hundred years ago.

Edworthy's photographs were featured in a popular exhibit at the Galveston County Historical Museum in 2007. However, last fall the museum was damaged by Hurricane Ike and is now closed. Curators told me they are working to finish repairs and hope to re-open in a few months.

In the meantime, you can buy the book online and at booksellers around the area. Proceeds benefit the Galveston Historical Foundation.




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