Harlingen, TX History
Harlingen, TX is a city located in Cameron County in southern Texas. It’s in the center of Rio Grande Valley and is approximately 30 miles from Gulf of Mexico’s coast. Harlingen is the second biggest city in the county and has a population of almost 65,000. Its humble beginnings have extended into a quite humble existence since. Here is the history of Harlingen, Texas.
The Beginning of the Town
The area that would become the city was intended to serve as a waterway that’s commercial. It was named by Lon C. Hill. The town’s name was inspired by a city located in the Netherlands. Its first post office was founded the same year in 1904. Only a year later the first school opened with a class of fifteen. The town of Harlingen, TX was incorporated on the fifteenth of April five years later with a population of only 1,126. They built their economy on cotton and vegetables.
How World War II Affected Harlingen, TX
There was a sudden rise in population following the military installations that came to the city in World War II. There was Harlingen Army Air Field which was closed down in 1962. During this time the population fluctuated greatly going from 23 thousand in 1950 to 41 thousand in ten years before dropping to 33, 603 ten years after that. The population did begin to climb again when local enterprises purchased and utilized the base that was now abandoned and the housing that went with it. In 1985 the approximate population was 49 thousand with the population being extremely diverse.
During the late period of the 1980's, the income for the city came from tourism and citrus fruit production. Cotton and grain fell close behind. When the retail and wholesale trade was introduced as well as manufacturing, and service industries, the economic base was broadened.
How Harlingen, TX Has Changed
Besides having the airfield, Harlingen, TX also has the Valley International Airport which served the Confederate Air Force, allowing them to occupy an apron space and hangar up until 1991. The Confederate Air Force has since been renamed the Commemorative Air Force.
The city had its first hospital in Harlingen, Texas open in the early 1920's and it was very small. It only had two barracks to serve as the wings and not much else. Another hospital, the Valley Baptist Hospital was constructed a few years later nearby. The first hospital shutdown eventually but Valley Baptist is still operating and has actually grown from hospital to medical center. It continues to expand and has some of the best healthcare specialists in the region.
The city features two sources of news in its two newspapers. One of these newspapers was the Harlingen Press which was established in 1951. It had, and still has, weekly papers. The Valley Morning Star is a daily newspaper that was established in 1911.
The population has steadily fluctuated since the 1980's and was approximately 48,735 during 1990. Just two years after this census, the city had been named as an All-America City due to its various self-help programs and its spirit for volunteering. As of 2000, the city’s communities totaled around 57,564 residents and a couple of thousand businesses.