McAllen, Texas

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McAllen, Texas
City of McAllen
Nickname(s): City of Palms and The Texas Tropics
Location in the U.S. state of Texas
Location in the U.S. state of Texas
Coordinates: 26°12′59″N 98°14′11″W / 26.21639°N 98.23639°W / 26.21639; -98.23639Coordinates: 26°12′59″N 98°14′11″W / 26.21639°N 98.23639°W / 26.21639; -98.23639
Country  United States of America
State  Texas
County Hidalgo
 • Type Council-Manager
 • City Council Mayor Jim Darling
Richard Cortez
Trey Pebley
Hilda Salinas
Aida Ramirez
John Ingram
Veronica Whitacre
 • City Manager Roel "Roy" Rodriguez
 • City 46.3 sq mi (119.8 km2)
 • Land 46.0 sq mi (119.1 km2)
 • Water 0.3 sq mi (0.8 km2)
Elevation 121 ft (37 m)
Population (2010)
 • City 129,877 (city proper)
 • Density 2,314.7/sq mi (893.8/km2)
 • Metro 774,769
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 78501-78505
Area code(s) 956
FIPS code 48-45384[1]
GNIS feature ID 1374829[2]

McAllen is the twenty-first most populous city in Texas and the largest city in Hidalgo County, Texas. It is located at the southern tip of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley and is part of the Southern United States. It is on the Rio Grande, across from the Mexican city of Reynosa, and is about 70 miles (110 km) west of South Padre Island and the Gulf of Mexico. The 2010 United States census put the city's population at 129,877 and the McAllen–Edinburg–Mission metropolitan area at 774,773.[3][4] It is ranked the fifth most populated metropolitan area in the state of Texas. The Reynosa–McAllen Metropolitan Area counts a population of nearly 1.5 million.[5]

From its settlement in 1904, the area around McAllen was largely rural and agricultural in character, but the latter half of the 20th century saw steady growth, which accelerated during the 1980s, leading to an economic and population boom in the 1990s and 2000s. Today the McAllen–Edinburg–Mission metropolitan area is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States. The introduction of the maquiladora economy and the North American Free Trade Association led to a boom in international trade, cross-border commerce with Mexico, and health care.[6]


In 1904 the Hidalgo and San Miguel Extension (now the Sam Fordyce Branch) of the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway reached the Santa Anita Ranch. John McAllen and his son James donated land to the railroad to guarantee it would cross the area. On December 5, 1904, the McAllen Townsite Company was formed by Uriah Lott, Leonidas C. Hill, Sr., John McAllen, James Ballí McAllen, and John J. Young. The new community, which was named for John McAllen, had the depot nearest the county seat, Hidalgo, eight miles to the south.

By 1911, 5,000 acres was under cultivation in East McAllen with produce consisting of cotton, alfalfa, broom corn, citrus fruits, grapes, and figs. East McAllen had an estimated population of 1,000 that year, and West McAllen had ceased to exist. In 1911 the town applied for and was issued a charter of incorporation under the name McAllen. In 1916, 20,000 New York state troops were stationed at McAllen to help quell border disturbances. The resulting economic boom increased the population from 1,200 in 1916, to 6,000 in 1920.[7]

McAllen adopted a home rule charter in 1927. Canning factories, a winery, tortilla plants, wood-working plants, and some oil exploration increased the population to 9,074 by 1930. In 1936 Hiram Garner opened the Valley Distillery, Incorporated, which produced wines from citrus juices. The town was a petroleum and farm chemurgic center with a population of 11,877 in 1940, by which time it had adopted the nickname the City of Palms. In 1941, a suspension bridge replaced the old bridge to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Tamaulipas; the new toll bridge was purchased by the city and was named the McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge. Its construction resulted in increased tourist trade, making McAllen a winter resort and port of entry to Mexico. The discovery of oil in the Reynosa area in 1947 resulted in a large migration of people from the Mexican interior, constituting a new tourist market and cheap labor supply for McAllen. The sister cities were linked as a result of the increased traffic between them. The population of McAllen was 20,005 in 1950 and 32,728 in 1960. The McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge was the number-two port of entry into Mexico in 1954.[8]

McAllen was an agricultural, oil, and tourist center in 1970, when the population reached 37,636. By the start of the 1970s, McAllen had a 200-bed hospital and a new air-conditioned high school, the first school in the nation featuring on-site power generated by natural-gas-powered turbines. The tourism industry continued to expand as people traveled to the area from both Mexico and the northern United States. The population continued to grow steadily through the 1970s, and reached 66,281 by 1980. During the late 1980s the McAllen Foreign Trade Zone was an important general-purpose foreign trade zone.[9] At the time McAllen's main industries were retail, tourism and farming, and each was in trouble. The devaluation of the Mexican peso in the 1980s put a damper on cross-border shopping; local tourism was down because of the recession. In 1983 a freeze took out much of the valley's citrus crop.

In the mid-1980s, fueled by trade and the growth of the maquiladora (in which components are shipped to Mexico, assembled and shipped back), the economy began to improve in Hidalgo County. McAllen sits across the border from Reynosa, a large manufacturing centre. After the peso devalued it became easier to coax companies to put their plants in Mexico with support operations in Texas.


McAllen is located at 26°12′59″N 98°14′11″W / 26.21639°N 98.23639°W / 26.21639; -98.23639 (26.216263, −98.236385).[10] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 46.3 square miles (120 km2), of which 46.0 square miles (119 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) (0.63%) is water.

Although McAllen is named the City of Palms, tropical vegetation is only locally dominant. There are many thorny shrubs and deciduous trees in the area such as Rio Grande Ash (Fraxinus berlandieriana), Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia) and Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa).


McAllen, like much of western South Texas, has a subtropical climate.[11] Under the Köppen climate classification, the city features a hot semi-arid climate. The average high in January is 70 °F and the average low is 50 °F. The average high is 96 °F and the average low is 76 °F in August. The warm season is extremely long, as average high temperatures from May through September are above 90 °F (32 °C) and average low temperatures are above 70 °F (21 °C), with relatively high dew point values resulting in higher relative humidity values and heat index values. Heat index values can consistently reach over 100 °F during these months.

Average annual precipitation is only 21.60 inches (549 mm). Most precipitation occurs in the warm season, with the least precipitation distinctly occurring in the cooler winter. As September is the peak of the north Atlantic hurricane season and tropical storms and hurricanes occasionally drop copious amounts of rainfall on the region, this month tends to be by far the wettest, averaging 4.08 inches (104 mm) of rain. The driest month is March, with only 0.72 inches (18 mm) of precipitation. Since 1941, it has snowed once, when the city received 1.7 inches on December 25, 2004.[12]

Temperatures are frequently above 100 °F (38 °C), occasionally as early as February and as late as the end of October, the highest temperature ever recorded in McAllen is 110 °F (43 °C), once in 1998 and once in 1999. The lowest temperature ever recorded in McAllen is 13 °F (−11 °C), on January 12, 1962.

Climate data for McAllen, Texas (McAllen Miller Int'l Airport), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 95
Average high °F (°C) 71.0
Average low °F (°C) 50.0
Record low °F (°C) 13
Average precipitation inches (mm) .97
Average precipitation days 7.2 5.3 4.0 4.0 4.6 5.2 5.4 5.3 7.8 5.9 4.8 6.0 65.5
Source: NOAA[13]
The parameter "Year record low F" is not recognized by Template:Weather box
The parameter "imperial first" is not recognized by Template:Weather box
The parameter "precipitation unit" is not recognized by Template:Weather box

[dubious ]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 150
1920 5,331 3,454.0%
1930 9,074 70.2%
1940 11,877 30.9%
1950 20,067 69.0%
1960 32,728 63.1%
1970 37,636 15.0%
1980 66,281 76.1%
1990 89,000 34.3%
2000 106,414 19.6%
2010 129,877 22.0%
Est. 2015 140,269 [14] 8.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[15]

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 106,414 people, 33,151 households, and 26,089 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,314.7 people per square mile (893.8/km²). There were 37,922 housing units at an average density of 824.9 per square mile (318.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.56% White, 0.61% African American, 0.40% Native American, 4.93% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 15.85% from other races, and 2.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 77.28% of the population.

There were 33,151 households out of which 43.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.0% were married couples living together, 16.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.3% were non-families. 17.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.18 and the average family size was 3.64.

In the city the population was spread out with 30.8% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 18.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 90.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,641, and the median income for a family was $36,050. Males had a median income of $30,089 versus $22,480 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,939. About 20.9% of families and 23.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.5% of those under age 18 and 20.3% of those age 65 or over.



The Rio Grande Valley began its rapid development with the introduction of irrigation in 1898 and the construction of the railroad in 1904. These major additions turned a once relatively desolate area into a major agricultural center. Throughout much of the 1900s, McAllen was a rural, agriculture-based economy characterized by sporadic growth. Today, the area is being transformed into a major international trade area by developing first-rate commercial, retail, office, industrial, medical, retirement and educational facilities. As recently as 1990, McAllen's unemployment rate was at 22.6 percent. By the end of 2005, that figure dropped to 7.7 percent. However, in 2011, listed the McAllen metro area the poorest in the nation.[16]


Since the 1980s and especially since the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, the focal point of economic activity has shifted from agriculture to international trade, health care, retail and tourism.

The McAllen Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) is located south of McAllen between McAllen and Reynosa. Commissioned in 1973, it was the first inland foreign trade zone in the United States. There is also a Foreign-Trade Zone designation site at the McAllen-Miller International Airport to facilitate air cargo needs. Under U.S. and Mexican laws and NAFTA provisions, the FTZ designation offers specific cost-saving opportunities to manufacturers. Products can be brought into the FTZ duty-free. Services have recently extended to include full logistic support services including public warehouse services including pick and pack, order processing, inventory control, incoming/outgoing quality inspection and kitting.[17]


McAllen was the most obese metropolitan area in the country in 2012, with 38.5% of the adult population considered obese. The high obesity rate has likely contributed to area residents' poor health. More than 21% of the population has been diagnosed with diabetes, more than any other metro area in the United States. Poverty may play a large role in the community's health problems as well. The metro region had the highest poverty rate in the country, with 37.7% of the population living below the poverty line in 2011. More than 17% of the population also lacked health coverage that year, among the highest of all U.S. metro areas. The vast majority of the McAllen metro area is located in a food desert, indicating a severe lack of access to healthy foods for residents.[18]

McAllen is featured in Supersize vs Superskinny, a British television programme on Channel 4 that features information about dieting and extreme eating lifestyles. One of the main show features is a weekly comparison between an overweight person, and an underweight person. In the show, the overweight participant visits morbidly obese McAllen residents in order to find motivation for lifestyle and diet changes.

McAllen was also the focus of an article in the New Yorker by Dr. Atul Gawande entitled "The Cost Conundrum", an inquiry into the factors that contribute to the cost of health care. The McAllen area had the highest Medicare spending-per-beneficiary in the United States, despite areas with similar demographics and health profiles having half the cost-per-recipient. The article noted that while the area has a higher prevalence of obesity and diabetes, its rates of infant mortality, HIV, and tobacco use were lower than the national average.[19]


The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) operates an office in McAllen.[20]

Federal representation[edit]

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas McAllen Division is located at Bentsen Tower 1701 W. Hwy. 83, Suite 1011 McAllen, TX.

The United States Postal Service operates two post offices in McAllen, the McAllen Post Office located at 620 Pecan Blvd and the McAllen Downtown Post Office at 406 12th Street.[21][22]

The United States Border Patrol McAllen Station is located at 3000 West Military Highway McAllen, TX.

The 2LT Luis G. Garcia United States Army Reserve Center (ARC) is located at 600 S Col Rowe Blvd, McAllen, TX is home for the U.S. Army Reserve 961st Quartermaster Company, 461st Transportation Detachment and the 519th Transportation Detachment.

McAllen is represented by two Representatives: Ruben Hinojosa of the 15th Congressional District, and Henry Cuellar of the 28th Congressional District.


Mass Transit[edit]

Metro McAllen (formerly McAllen Express Transit (MET)) has provided public transportation for the City of McAllen since June 1997. In the beginning, McAllen's public transportation system, McAllen Express (ME), was administered by the Lower Rio Grande Development Council. Since 2005, Metro McAllen has been operated as a Department of the City of McAllen. Metro McAllen now has seven fixed routes serving residents and visitors of McAllen. It operates six days out of the week, 13 hours per day.

Fare Structure

Adults Students Elderly
$1.00 $0.50 $0.50

Downtown Bus Terminal The City of McAllen also operates the bus terminal facility in downtown McAllen, known as McAllen Central Station. Central Station serves as a hub for MET and for 14 private domestic and international bus lines. Approximately 60 buses depart from Central Station on a daily basis.


  • I-2.svg Interstate 2 travels through McAllen from Taylor Road to Sugar Road.
  • US 83.svg U.S. 83 travels through McAllen as its major east-west artery. It runs directly south of downtown McAllen.
  • Texas 107.svg State Highway 107 travels east through McAllen into downtown Edinburg, where it intersects the Business Route of US Route 281 and then I-69C/US 281.
  • Texas 336.svg State Highway 336 travels north to an intersection with FM 1016 in McAllen to an intersection with I-2/US 83.
  • Texas 495.svg State Highway 495 travels through McAllen from FM 2220 (Ware Road) to FM 2061 (McColl Street).


  • McAllen-Miller International Airport[23] is served by American Airlines with non-stop service to Dallas/Ft. Worth, United with non-stop service to Houston, Aeromar with non-stop service to Mexico City, and Allegiant Airlines with non-stop flights to Las Vegas and seasonal service to Los Angeles and Orlando-Sanford. On November 15, 2013, Aeromar, a Mexican regional airline, began non-stop flights to San Luis Potosí.


Community College[edit]

  • South Texas College (over 27,000 students spread across their 5 campuses in Hidalgo and Starr counties and the eSTC virtual campus. Main campus is located in McAllen.)

Trade School[edit]

  • SWS Southwest Schools at 23rd and Nolana, serves 125,000 residents of McAllen and the 620,000 of the McAllen Metro area, including Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr, Brooks, and Kennedy Counties.

Primary and secondary schools[edit]

McAllen Independent School District serves most of the city. Portions of the city extend into Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District and that district operates two elementary schools located in the City of McAllen. The Hidalgo Independent School District, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, Sharyland Independent School District, and Valley View Independent School District also serve the City of McAllen.

In addition, residents are allowed to apply to magnet schools operated by the South Texas Independent School District.

The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville operates Our Lady of Sorrows School, an elementary and middle school.

Public libraries[edit]

McAllen Public Library operates a main library and two branches, the Lark Branch and the Palm View Branch. The New Main Library opened in the fall of 2011 inside a former Walmart.[24] The library earned high praise and became the recipient of The International Interior Design Association’s 2012 Library Interior Design Awards.[25]


Birdwatching – McAllen is positioned on the migratory path between North and South America, presenting bird and butterfly expeditions. The landscape hosts a diverse wildlife population.

The Quinta Mazatlan is the historic Spanish colonial mansion and is McAllen's wing of the World Birding Center.[26]

The McAllen Dog Park is another place for recreation for dogs of all sizes. The lighted park is located off of Tamarack and 2nd Street. The park is divided into two sections.

The Bicentennial Bike Path runs all the way from Highway 83 on McAllen's South side to Bicentennial and Nolana on McAllen's North side.

The Zinnia Spray Water Park is McAllen's first spray ground park. It's located at 29th and Zinnia Ave.[27]

Palm View Golf Course is located on South Ware Rd. just South of Highway 83. The golf course has 18 holes plus a driving range. This course hosts numerous tournaments year round.[28]


Until 2014, McAllen was home to the professional baseball team, Texas Thunder, an independent baseball league that played at Edinburg Stadium.

Dynamo South Texas Academy is a soccer development academy created in 2007 by the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer. The Dynamo announced the creation of the Dynamo South Texas Academy as the franchise's first satellite academy. The Dynamo and the McAllen Youth Soccer Association partner up to develop young talent in the Rio Grande Valley region of South Texas with the DSTA's U-18 and U-15 teams, which train and compete in several South Texas cities, including McAllen, Harlingen and Brownsville.[29]

McAllen has hosted the NAIA national football championship in the late 1970s and NCAA Division II national football championship games in the 1980s.

Media and journalism[edit]

Television stations[edit]

Radio stations[edit]

  • KURV-AM 710 AM News Talk Radio
  • XERDO-AM La Radio 1450 AM (News/Sports) [Spanish]
  • XEMS-AM Radio Mexicana 1490 AM (Regional Mexican) [Spanish]
  • KHID-FM 88.1 FM McAllen (National Public Radio)
  • XHRYS-FM Hits FM 90.1 FM (Top 40 Hits) [Spanish]
  • XHRYN-FM Uni 90.5 FM [Spanish]
  • XHRYA-FM Mas Musica 90.9 FM (Hit Radio) [Spanish]
  • XHMLS-FM Exitos 91.3 FM (All-Time Hits) [Spanish]
  • KCAS-FM The New KCAS 91.5 FM
  • XHAAA-FM La Caliente 93.1 FM (Regional Mexican) [Spanish]
  • KFRQ-FM Q94.5 FM (Classic/Modern/Hard Rock)
  • XHRT-FM Xtrema 95.3 FM (All-Time Hits) [Spanish]
  • KBTQ-FM Recuerdo 96.1 FM (Oldies) [Spanish]
  • KVMV-FM Family Friendly & Commercial Free 96.9 FM (Adult Contemporary Christian)
  • KGBT-FM Solamente Exitos 98.5 FM (Regional Mexican) [Spanish]
  • KKPS-FM La Nueva 99.5 FM (Local Tejano Music) [Spanish]
  • KTEX-FM South Texas Country 100.3 FM (Country)
  • KNVO-FM Jose 101.1 FM [Spanish]
  • XHAVO-FM Digital 101.5 FM (International Music) [Spanish]
  • KBFM-FM Wild 104.1 FM (Hip-Hop/R&B/Reggaeton)
  • KJAV-FM 104.9 FM Jack FM ("Playing What We Want")(Adult Hits)
  • XQXX-FM The X 105.5 FM (Classic-rock)
  • KHKZ-FM Kiss 106.3 FM (Hot AC)
  • XHVTH-FM La Mas Buena 107.1 FM (Regional Mexican) [Spanish]
  • KVLY-FM Mix 107.9 FM (Top 40)

Area newspapers[edit]

Architecture and points of interest[edit]

  • Tallest buildings
McAllen Skyline, on far right Chase Neuhaus Tower in Downtown.
Rank Building Height
1 Chase Neuhaus Tower 17 Floors
2 BBVA Compass Tower 11 Floors
3 Bentsen Tower 11 Floors
4 DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel 9 Floors
5 McAllen Medical Center 8 Floors
6 Inter National Bank 6 Floors
  • Districts
McAllen Convention Center District
  1. Downtown McAllen
  2. De Palmas Historic District
  3. 17 Street Entertainment District
  4. McAllen Arts District
  5. Uptown McAllen
  6. McAllen Convention Center District
  • Point of Interests
  1. McAllen Botanical Gardens
  2. Quinta Mazatlan
  3. McAllen Convention Center
  4. La Plaza Mall
  5. South Texas College
  6. International Museum of Art and Science
  7. Historic Cine El Rey Theatre
  8. Renaissance Casa De Palmas Hotel

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "20 MOST DANGEROUS CITIES IN TEXAS". Retrieved April 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ "State & County Quick Facts/Hidalgo County, United States Census Bureau". Retrieved May 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ "McAllen Overview". McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  6. ^ Bogan, Jesse (April 2, 2009). "A Boom At The Border". Forbes. Retrieved Nov 22, 2011. 
  7. ^ Garza, Alicia A. "McAllen". Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved Nov 22, 2011. 
  8. ^ "McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa Bridge". Texas Department of Transportation. Retrieved Nov 22, 2011. 
  9. ^ "City History". City of McAllen. Retrieved Nov 22, 2011. 
  10. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  11. ^ Rio Grande Valley. Wikivoyage.
  12. ^ "NOWData – NOAA Online Weather Data: Brownsville, TX". National Weather Service Forecast Office. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 
  13. ^ "NowData – NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2012-02-09. 
  14. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on May 11, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  16. ^ Martha C. White (October 21, 2011) "Poorest place in US? McAllen, Texas, and here's why" Accessed November 5, 2011.
  17. ^ "Rio Grande Valley". Texas Border Business. Retrieved Nov 21, 2011. 
  18. ^ "America's Fattest Cities". 24/7 Wall Street. Retrieved July 3, 2013. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Parole Division Region IV Archived September 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› ." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on May 21, 2010.
  21. ^ "Post Office Location MCALLEN." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 9, 2010.
  22. ^ "Post Office Location – DOWNTOWN MCALLEN." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 9, 2010.
  23. ^ "McAllen International Airport – Welcome". Retrieved 2011-09-04. 
  24. ^ "McAllen Public Library – New Main Library – opening 2011". Retrieved 2011-09-04. 
  25. ^ Lametti, Daniel; Waldman, Katy (2012-07-07). "How an Abandoned Wal-Mart Became an Award-Winning Public Library". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2016-09-03. 
  26. ^ "The Quinta Mazatlan". Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  27. ^ "Zinnia Spray Park". Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  28. ^ "Palm View Golf Course". Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  29. ^ "Dynamo South Texas Academy". Retrieved 2012-06-20. 

External links[edit]