Water Street was the original beachfront of Corpus Christi with a mixture of residences, commercial wharves, warehouses, and seaport-related industries. Almost totally destroyed by the twelve-foot storm surge of 1919, properties along Water Street were rebuilt in tandem with a comprehensive program to protect the city's shore from another onslaught from the Gulf. In 1921, a breakwater composed of massive boulders was begun in an arc configuration that extends beyond the shore for two miles along the bay.
The breakwater was followed by construction of the seawall in 1941, an even more ambitious project that involved extending the shoreline into the bay, and raising its height to fifteen feet above sea level. The results of the gargantuan engineering project reclaimed up to a one-thousand-foot-wide strip of land from the sea, creating Shoreline Boulevard, an eighty-foot-wide, two-mile-long thoroughfare with central esplanade. Topping the step-configured concrete seawall is a twenty-foot sidewalk, which serves as a popular tourist promenade, and three peninsulas were built out into the bay for fishing and for mooring private seacraft. Security from Gulf surges provided by these coastline improvements established Shoreline Boulevard as a prime area for commercial and tourism development, as evidenced by the high-rise buildings on this strip of reclaimed land.
Memorial Coliseum (1954; demolished 2010) and the city hall (1952; demolished), both by Richard S. Colley, are recent losses at the southern end of Shoreline Boulevard. At the orange brick coliseum, Colley experimented with the use of a lamella truss roof, and at city hall he installed a three-story, grid-patterned brise soleil along its south elevation.