Friday, April 4, 2014

Resting in Peace: Old City Cemetery, Galveston, Texas

This is the third post on our tour of historic cemeteries around the world. Galveston's Old City Cemetery is right off Broadway Avenue, on your right soon after you enter the city after leaving the causeway from the mainland (I-45).
The cemetery is a flat rectangle with a mixture of ornate early 20th century tombs, some mausoleums, and some plain new stones. It is a merger of 7 historical cemeteries dating back over 170 years. A few web pages claim some of the interred are victims of the great 1900 Galveston Hurricane, but most of the dates I saw were later than that.
Some of the mausoleums have interesting architectural features; some are relatively unadorned.
There is some statuary, but not as much as I expected.
The adjoining streets are some of the oldest in the City, with a mixture of old cottages in varying states of repair.  The neighborhood around the Old City Cemetery looks safe enough, and there are even night-time ghost walks.
There are at least two other cemeteries in Galveston. The Calvary Cemetery off 61st street has a couple of tall mausoleums with  unusual domes. They are the most substantial structures at Calvary. Since I took this photograph in 1984, the unit in the foreground has been cleaned and is now white. The inscription above the door says, "Oppermann Family Vault 1884."
Lakeview Cemetery is not as interesting. Most of the monuments are modern.

Decades ago, Galveston was a bit rough, but it looks much better now.  Significant cleaning and restoring has been done (and is ongoing) after the flooding caused by Hurricane Ike on September 13, 2008. Many of the historic cottages have been repainted and re-landscaped. If you have not been here in years, come for another visit.
This is a radar image of Hurricane Ike at landfall: HGX Radar, Base Reflectivity, 1:07am CDT (from the National Weather Service, Houston/Galveston, via the Wikimedia Commons). This was just a few miles north of Hurricane Alicia's landfall on August 18, 1983. I lived in Houston at the time, and the eye of Alicia went right over our house.

I took the 2014 photographs with a Fuji X-E1 digital camera and processed the RAW files with PhotoNinja software. The 1984 color photograph is a scan of a 35 mm Kodachrome 25 slide, taken with a Leica M3 camera mounting a 50mm f/2.8 Elmar lens (the post-war version of the Elmar with Lanthanum glass). Thank you to Ms. Carol Wood, Archivist at the Rosenberg Library, for helping me identify the Calvary Cemetery.

For another historic cemetery, click the link for the First Cemetery in Athens, Greece.

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