During the 19th century, Galveston became a major U.S. commercial center and one of the largest ports in the United States. It was devastated by the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, whose effects included flooding and a storm surge. The natural disaster on the exposed barrier island is still ranked as the deadliest in United States history, with an estimated toll of 6,000-8,000 people.
Much of Galveston's modern economy is centered in the tourism, health care, shipping, and financial industries. The 84-acre (340,000 m) University of Texas Medical Branch campus with an enrollment of more than 2,500 students is a major economic force of the city. Galveston is home to six historic districts containing one of the largest and historically significant collections of 19th-century buildings with over 60 structures listed in the National Register of Historic Places