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Galveston in the Year of The Great Hurricane (1900)

Scarce separately published map of the area around Galveston, Texas, published by the British Admiralty.  The coding at the bottom left of the map suggest this is the third revision in 1900, and therefore likely updated and issued shortly after the Great Hurricane of 1900.  The Great Galveston hurricane was the deadliest natural disaster in United States history, one of the deadliest hurricanes (or remnants) to affect Canada, and the fourth-deadliest Atlantic hurricane overall. 

Includes contemporary annotations, in red, apparently illustrating an extension of the sea walls in the Channel entrance.

Galveston Harbor

During the late 19th century, the port was the busiest on the Gulf Coast and the second busiest in the United States. The main export was cotton.

The Galveston Wharf Company took control of the port in 1869 and constructed the first grain elevator in 1875, resulting in Galveston becoming a major grain export hub by the end of the 19th Century.  

The port survived the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 relatively unscathed, but the railroad connecting the island to the mainland suffered significant damage In response to the hurricane, city leaders dredged the ship channel to raise the island's grade, converting Galveston to a deep-water port..  By the time World War I began, Galveston was the leading cotton port in the world, the third largest exporter of wheat, and an important sugar import center.

British Admiralty Biography

The British Admiralty has produced nautical charts since 1795 under the auspices of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (HO). Its main task was to provide the Royal Navy with navigational products and service, but since 1821 it has also sold charts to the public.

In 1795, King George III appointed Alexander Dalrymple, a pedantic geographer, to consolidate, catalogue, and improve the Royal Navy’s charts. He produced the first chart as the Hydrographer to the Admiralty in 1802. Dalrymple, known for his sticky personality, served until his death in 1808, when he was succeeded by Captain Thomas Hurd. The HO has been run by naval officers ever since.

Hurd professionalized the office and increased its efficiency. He was succeeded by the Arctic explorer Captain William Parry in 1823. By 1825, the HO was offering over seven hundred charts and views for sale. Under Parry, the HO also began to participate in exploratory expeditions. The first was a joint French-Spanish-British trip to the South Atlantic, a voyage organized in part by the Royal Society of London.

In 1829, Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort was appointed Hydrographer Royal. Under his management, the HO introduced the wind force scale named for him, as well as began issuing official tide tables (1833). It was under Beaufort that HMS Beagle completed several surveying missions, including its most famous voyage commanded by Captain FitzRoy with Charles Darwin onboard. When Beaufort retired in 1855, the HO had nearly two thousand charts in its catalog.

Later in the nineteenth century, the HO supported the Challenger expedition, which is credited with helping to found the discipline of oceanography. The HO participated in the International Meridian Conference which decided on the Greenwich Meridian as the Prime Meridian. Regulation and standardization of oceanic and navigational measures continued into the twentieth century, with the HO participating at the first International Hydrographic Organization meeting in 1921.

During World War II, the HO chart making facility moved to Taunton, the first purpose-built building it ever inhabited. In 1953, the first purpose-built survey ship went to sea, the HMS Vidal. Today, there is an entire class of survey vessels that make up the Royal Navy’s Hydrographic Squadron. The HO began to computerize their charts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1968, the compilation staff also came to Taunton, and the HO continues to work from there today.