Riviera was founded in 1906 by Theodore Fredrick Koch, a land promoter. He purchased land from the King Ranch to sell to landseekers. He built a townsite along the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway and named it Riviera after the French Riviera. Koch ran a train from Chicago to Riviera twice a month to bring more people to the area. Riviera witnessed growth in its first few years, but a drought hit the area in 1915 and then a terrible hurricane hit the area in 1916. When Highway 77 was constructed, it helped the economy get back on its feet. Now its economy depends on farming. Its also the last stop for about 60 miles (97 km) to Raymondville, going south, so its gas stations and restaurants are used by many travelers heading south.