Alton, Texas

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Alton, Texas
City of Alton
Location of Alton, Texas
Location of Alton, Texas
Hidalgo County Alton.svg
Coordinates: 26°17′4″N 98°18′21″W / 26.28444°N 98.30583°W / 26.28444; -98.30583Coordinates: 26°17′4″N 98°18′21″W / 26.28444°N 98.30583°W / 26.28444; -98.30583
Country  United States of America
State  Texas
County Hidalgo
 • Total 2.1 sq mi (5.5 km2)
 • Land 2.1 sq mi (5.5 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 161 ft (49 m)
Population (2010)[1]
 • Total 12,341
 • Estimate (2013)[1] 15,050
 • Density 2,075.5/sq mi (801.4/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 78539, 78572
Area code(s) 956
FIPS code 48-02212[2]
GNIS feature ID 1329468[3]

Alton is a city in Hidalgo County, Texas, United States. The population was 12,341 at the 2010 census. It is part of the McAllen–Edinburg–Mission and Reynosa–McAllen metropolitan areas.


Alton is located at 26°17′4″N 98°18′21″W / 26.28444°N 98.30583°W / 26.28444; -98.30583 (26.284307, -98.305940).[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.1 square miles (5.4 km2), all land.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1980 2,732
1990 3,069 12.3%
2000 4,384 42.8%
2010 12,341 181.5%
Est. 2014 15,497 [5] 25.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 4,384 people, 1,059 households, and 988 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,075.5 people per square mile (802.2/km²). There were 1,175 housing units at an average density of 556.3 per square mile (215.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 79.33% White, 0.05% African American, 0.32% Native American, 19.02% from other races, and 1.28% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 97.90% of the population.

There were 1,059 households out of which 58.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 70.7% were married couples living together, 17.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 6.7% were non-families. 6.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.14 and the average family size was 4.29.

In the city the population was spread out with 37.9% under the age of 18, 12.1% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 14.7% from 45 to 64, and 6.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females there were 94.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $22,097, and the median income for a family was $23,563. Males had a median income of $18,487 versus $15,341 for females. The per capita income for the city was $6,230. About 38.7% of families and 42.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 51.9% of those under age 18 and 39.3% of those age 65 or over.


Most of Alton is a part of the Mission Consolidated Independent School District. A small portion is a part of the Sharyland Independent School District.

In addition, South Texas Independent School District operates magnet schools that serve the community.

Bus crash[edit]

At 7:30 A.M. on September 21, 1989, a Coca-Cola truck hit a Mission school bus, knocking it into a gravel pit at the corner of Five-Mile Road and Bryan Road. Twenty-one children from the Alton area drowned, and forty-nine were injured. This was the worst school bus accident to date in Texas history.[7]

The bus crash inspired Russell Banks' novel The Sweet Hereafter, as well as the film based upon it. The NTSB found that the crash was the fault of truck driver Ruben Perez.

Some lawyers faced ethics charges in their rush to file suit after the accident.[8] Dozens of lawyers hurried to Alton, reportedly even approaching families in the morgue and in hospitals. The soft-drink truck was owned by Valley Coca-Cola, a division of the soft drink giant.[9] The bus manufacturer was sued on the grounds that the standard rear emergency door should have been supplemented with an exit on the left side of the bus which would have permitted most or all of the children to escape. The community of Alton was sued because the pit was not thoroughly barricaded.

The Texas State Bar sought to bring actions against lawyers whom it believed to be paying people to refer clients to them. Some families who settled soon after the accident sued again after discovering that other families had received larger settlements. The 350 lawsuits resulted in settlements totaling more than $150 million. In the end, Valley Coca-Cola paid some $144 million in claims of which lawyers took an estimated $50 million. Families who lost children received about $4.5 million from Valley Coca-Cola for each child who perished while the 60 children who survived each received an estimated $500,000 to $900,000.[9]

Few of the citizens of Alton attended the criminal trial for the truck driver. Many think that the money received from the lawsuits only brought the town trouble.[10]


  1. ^ a b "State and County Quick Facts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 3, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  7. ^ Austin American-Statesman, September 22, 1989.
  8. ^ CBS Evening News, July 17, 1990
  9. ^ a b Tony McAdams, Blame and the Sweet Hereafter, Legal Studies Forum Volume 24, Numbers 3 & 4 (2000)
  10. ^ Special to the New York Times, 1993: A14)

External links[edit]