Kemah, Texas

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Kemah is a city in the U.S. state of Texas within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area. The city's population was 2,330 as of the 2000 census. Located in Galveston County, Kemah's main industry comes from shipping. Originally a small fishing town, the city has become a tourist destination for the area's restaurants and attractions, which are contained within the Kemah Entertainment District.



Kemah is located at 29°32′22″N 95°1′9″W / 29.53944°N 95.01917°W / 29.53944; -95.01917 (29.539469, -95.019032)[3] and is part of the Clear Lake Area.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.82 square miles (4.7 km2), of which, 1.79 square miles (4.6 km2) of it is land and 0.03 square miles (0.078 km2) of it (1.65%) is water.


The city was originally founded as Evergreen in 1898 along the Texas and New Orleans Railroad, when John Henry Kipp and James H. Bradford subdivided their lots to establish a township. The area was also called Shell Siding after the oyster shell middens lining the bay, in some places twenty to thirty feet deep. Indian burial grounds were later found in these shell middens. Kipp petitioned for a post office, but was denied as there was already an Evergreen, Texas (now incorporated into Cleveland, Texas). Residents were polled and Kemah, the Karankawa word for "wind in face", "face wind", or "facing the wind", was chosen. Kemah was granted a post office in 1907.

Commercial fishing has long been a significant area industry and a part of the community's identity as demonstrated by the annual Blessing of the Fleet event that continues today. Agriculture was also important to the community's early prosperity.

From the 1920s to the 1950s Kemah became a significant tourist destination resulting from investment by the Maceo crime syndicate which ran Galveston during this time. The syndicate created a lavish casino district along the boardwalk featuring venues such as the Chili Bowl and the Kemah Den.[4] During the 1950s the State Attorney General and the Texas Rangers finally shut down the Galveston vice empire. Kemah's casinos were closed and its tourism base declined drastically.

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