Corpus Christi (population 279,208) is the largest city on Texas’s Gulf Coast , and it’s one of the most popular destinations in the state for seaside recreation, including fishing, sailing, swimming, and windsurfing.
The city has experienced a precipitous history, with drought, conflicts with Native-American tribes, and various wars preventing settlements from taking hold until the mid-1800s, when a trading post was established and a small village developed that eventually became known as Corpus Christi, which translates as “the Body of Christ.” Just when the town started growing, a yellow fever epidemic decimated the population, and it was subsequently plagued for decades by the lack of a deepwater port.
In 1916 and 1919, torrential storms destroyed portions of the city, erasing grand hotels and palatial homes. As a result, Corpus Christi, dubbed “the Sparkling City by the Bay,” can appear historically lackluster, with a deficiency of significant structures reflecting its heritage. Regardless, historic homes and churches still exist in downtown neighborhoods unaffected by hurricanes and wrecking balls.
By the middle of the 20th century, Corpus, as it’s known throughout the state, became a major petroleum and shipping center, with coastal shipments of gasoline, crude petroleum, and natural gas bringing increased corporate activity. Also contributing to the economy were the military bases and the petroleum and petrochemical industry, particularly the six refineries making good use of the approximately 1,500 oil wells in the area.
Despite its fairly large population, Corpus retains the feel of a small city, albeit one with remarkable museums and top-notch seafood restaurants. Corpus Christi’s mild year-round temperatures and inviting tropical climate draw visitors from across the country to its cultural and recreational opportunities and abundant sunshine glistening on this Sparkling City by the Bay.
Located five miles west of downtown, the Corpus Christi International Airport (1000 International Blvd., 361/289-0171, www.corpuschristiairport.com ) offers service from several major airlines (Southwest, Continental, and American Eagle) including service to Monterey, Mexico.
The city’s bus system, Regional Transportation Authority (1806 S. Alameda St., 361/883-2287, www.ccrta.org ), provides citywide service. Check the website for updated fare and route information.