GALVESTON, Texas – The Strand was designated as one of 10 Great Streets for 2013 by the American Planning Association on Friday.
Each year during National Community Planning Month APA’s Great Places in America program names 30 exemplary streets, neighborhoods and public spaces to highlight the role planning and planners play in adding value to communities, including fostering economic growth and jobs.
APA singled out The Strand for its Victorian architecture, decades of revitalization, reinvestment and infrastructure improvements, and residents and city’s perseverance in rebuilding after devastating natural disasters.
“The city has many treasures, but The Strand is truly the foundation piece in a city of ‘firsts,’” said Mayor Lewis Rosen. “It is an example of not only commerce and historical architecture, but the resilience of many generations through natural disasters and devastating storm events.”
“The Strand is a magnificent street that has seen more than its share of destructive storms and disasters, most recently Hurricane Ike in 2008,” said APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer, FAICP. “Yet Galveston’s community leaders and residents remain steadfast in their resolve to repair and rebuild, and nothing demonstrates this better than The Strand’s renewed vibrancy and prosperity.”
Called the “The Wall Street of the Southwest” during the 19th Century, The Strand was the desired location for major businesses at the time including banks, wholesalers, commercial merchants, cotton brokers, newspapers and attorneys.
They erected examples of Victorian architecture, which today represent one of the country’s largest collections of cast iron historic commercial buildings thanks to decades of planning and restoration efforts by led the city, Galveston Historical Foundation, and philanthropist George Mitchell, who died in July, and his wife Cynthia, who passed away in 2009.
“The Galveston Central Business District: A Comprehensive Plan Report,” completed in July 1964, provided a blueprint for The Strand’s next period of growth and development. Followed by an action plan in 1975, the result was a decades-long period of public- and private-funded revitalization and reinvestment along the street.
The Strand’s return from its most recent devastation, caused by Hurricane Ike in 2008, involved community leaders, residents and planners mapping out strategies and a rehabilitation plan.
With the help of $500 million in state and federal recovery funds, Galveston has once again returned The Strand to its vibrant self, repairing the iconic facades of the avenue’s historic buildings and attracting new waves of visitors and tourists to the street’s restaurants, museums and specialty stores.