Galveston County - Tiki Island

If you were a driver heading towards Galveston Island on I-45, you would probably recognize how close you were to the water when the majority of the trees you had seen along the way eventually gave way to several miles of grassy marshland.  And if you were looking the wrong direction while approaching the bridge over West Bay, you might miss the small community that has sprung up just before you left the mainland: The Village of Tiki Island.  According to the US Census Bureau, this tiny group of homes boasts a 2020 population of 1,106 that supports a full-time police department and a volunteer fire department with a paid staff of one.  The total area of the city is officially 1.59 square miles, but 2/3 of that amount is water and only 0.48 square miles is on land.  This stop along our tour of Galveston County towns has no extended history because before 1960 it didn't even exist.

That's right, at a time when the eyes of the world were focused on the emerging war in Vietnam on the other side of the globe, this small patch of real estate was still just like nearly everything else nearby: nothing more than mud and grass barely peeking out above the water.  The location, however, caught the attention of a pair of real estate developers who were busy building a community on the west side of Galveston Island.  William Sherrill and Welcome Wilson, Sr. were business partners who had joined a small corporation to create Jamaica Beach, a city we will visit later on our tour, when they began to discuss the possibility of purchasing, filling in, and developing a new neighborhood closer to Houston.

Upon discovering that the land that interested them was privately owned, they decided to move forward with their project to improve it beyond its use as a simple fishing camp.  After the purchase was completed the work of dredging out canals to build up the land to its current 4-10' elevation had begun, but the partnership was not able to continue.  President Lyndon Johnson appointed William Sherrill to the Federal Reserve Board in 1967 and he had to sell out his interest to Wilson, but not before he suggested a name for the newly-created site.  Wilson's initial idea of naming it Buccaneer Bay was thrown out in favor of Tiki Island.

The location of the peninsula initially attracted those interested in fishing and boating, and the canals that were dug allowed nearly every piece of property to be along the waterfront.  Homes continued to be built and new residents began to move in, and by 1982 the city was incorporated as a village.  Interestingly, although the bridge on Tiki Drive is the single point of access to the entire city, the neighborhood is zoned to different school districts.  Students on the western half of town attend Hitchcock ISD schools, while those on the eastern half attend Texas City ISD schools.  Despite their location along the Gulf Coast, residents of Tiki Island have weathered 21st century hurricanes such as Ike and Nicholas more successfully than many neighboring areas due to a strong commitment to building standards that exceed recommendations by agencies such as FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program.


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