To Be Better, New Orleans, Think Smaller
AT the turn of the last century, Galveston, Tex., was one of the most important cities west of the Mississippi. With a population of 38,000, it had a critical port, a thriving banking sector and more wealth per capita than just about anyplace else in America. Its streets were paved with oyster shells that shined in the moonlight.
Then, on Sept. 8, 1900, Galveston was struck by a hurricane that killed thousands and flattened the city. It never recovered. The merchants, the bankers and all sorts of other service-sector workers fled to Houston, never to return. Businesses died. The port shrank to nothingness. "Galveston was left without a tax base," said Paul Burka, senior executive editor of Texas Monthly (and a Galveston native). Houston went on to become the city that Galveston had once aspired to be.
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