Harlingen Texas

Harlingen Texas is a city in Cameron County in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas, United States, about 30 miles (48 km) from the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The city covers more than 34 square miles (88 km2), and is the second largest city in Cameron County and the sixth largest in the Rio Grande Valley. As of the 2010 Census the city had a total population of 64,849 and grew 12.5% since the 2000 Census. It is also the city with the cheapest cost of living in the United States.

Harlingen is a principal city of the Brownsville–Harlingen metropolitan area, which is part of the larger Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville combined statistical area, included in the Matamoros–Brownsville metropolitan area.



According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 34.3 square miles (89 km2), of which, 34.1 square miles (88 km2) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) of it (0.76%) is water.

Soils in Harlingen range in texture from fine sandy loam to clay. They are neutral to moderately alkaline with pH of 7.2 to 8.5 (most commonly around 8.2), and are moderately well drained or well drained in most cases. There are small areas of poorly drained, saline clays.




Climate data for Harlingen, Texas
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 94
Average high °F (°C) 69.7
Average low °F (°C) 49.7
Record low °F (°C) 14
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.23
Source: National Weather Service


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1920 1,784
1930 12,124 +579.6%
1940 13,306 +9.7%
1950 23,229 +74.6%
1960 41,207 +77.4%
1970 33,503 −18.7%
1980 43,543 +30.0%
1990 48,746 +11.9%
2000 57,564 +18.1%
2010 64,849 +12.7%
2011 66,122 +2.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
Texas Almanac: 1850-2010


As of the census of 2000, there were 57,564 people, 19,021 households, and 14,360 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,689.6 people per square mile (652.4/km²). There were 23,008 housing units at an average density of 675.3 per square mile (260.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 78.68% White, 0.92% Black or African American, 0.52% Native American, 0.88% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 16.39% from other races, and 2.58% from two or more races. 72.76% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race; most are of Mexican descent due to the proximity of the border.

As in other cities in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, a significant part of Harlingen’s transient population and a significant contributor to its economy consists of “Winter Texans.” Winter Texans are generally retirees from the northern Midwestern states and Canada who come to escape the northern winter weather between roughly November and March.

There were 19,021 households, out of which 38.6% had children under the age of 18, 55.6% were married couples living together, 16.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.5% were non-families. 20.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.3% had someone living alone 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.94 and the average family size was 3.44.

In the city the population was spread out with 30.7% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 15.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 90.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,296, and the median income for a family was $34,015. Males had a median income of $27,014 versus $21,795 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,886. About 19.3% of families and 24.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.7% of those under age 18 and 16.2% of those age 65 or over.


K–12 schools

The city is covered by the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District and South Texas Independent School District. Harlingen is home to three high schools – Early College High School, Harlingen High School and Harlingen High School South. Saint Anthony Catholic School is a parochial school for grades K-8 (with a 3 & 4 year old Montessori Program). It is one of the few Catholic school in the city of Harlingen with a current enrollment of 220 students.

The Marine Military Academy, a nationally recognized, private, all male college preparatory school is located in Harlingen Texas..

Universities and colleges

The city has a branch of the Texas State Technical College, a two-year technical school and access to University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College in nearby Brownsville, South Texas College in McAllen, and University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg.

In 2002, the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio opened the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) in Harlingen. Third and fourth-year medical students from the San Antonio campus can complete their clinical rotations in the Rio Grande Valley based out of the RAHC. The RAHC also supports an Internal Medicine Residency Program. The RAHC medical library is open to the public.

Public libraries

The Harlingen Public Library serves local residents.

Media and Journalism




Valley International Airport

The city’s airport, Valley International Airport (HRL), has a service area that encompasses the lower Rio Grande Valley and northern Mexico, serving more than two million people on both sides of the US-Mexico border. Valley International Airport lies in the northeastern portion of Harlingen and offers a border-crossing option via the Free Trade Bridge at Los Indios. The airport has aligned itself as the Air Cargo Hub of the Rio Grande Valley and works closely with carriers such as DHL, FedEx, BAX Global, Continental Express Cargo, and Southwest Airlines Cargo. In 1975, Southwest Airlines began to fly to the Rio Grande Valley via Valley International Airport with four roundtrips each business day. Southwest currently offers non-stop flights between Harlingen and Austin (AUS), Dallas-Love Field (DAL), Houston-Hobby (HOU), and San Antonio (SAT). Additional airlines that serve the airport include United Express to Houston-Intercontinental (IAH) and Sun Country Airlines with seasonal, non-stop service to Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) during the winter season from October through May.


Two six-lane divided highways intersect in Harlingen: U.S. Highway 77 (The new Interstate 69) and U.S. Highway 83. U.S. Highway 77 (The new Interstate 69) connects to Interstate 37 at Corpus Christi. U.S. Highway 83 connects with Interstate 35 at Laredo.

International trade bridges

The Free Trade Bridge at Los Indios is a state-of-the-art international bridge located just 10 miles (16 km) south of Harlingen. With a full U.S. Customs inspection facility that accommodates up to 75 trucks simultaneously, the Free Trade Bridge is acclaimed as the most time-efficient border crossing in the Rio Grande Valley. The Free Trade Bridge accesses a four-lane highway in northern Mexico, offering a fast route to the border cities of Matamoros and Reynosa, as well as the industrial city of Monterrey. With the completion of Mexico’s State of Tamaulipas new ‘autopista’, the Free Trade Bridge will provide a seamless highway connection for more efficient distribution of industrial products to and from interior Mexico.


The Port of Harlingen is located four miles (6 km) east of Harlingen on Highway 106. It is 25 miles (40 km) West of Mile Marker 646 on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, which stretches from the Mexican border at Brownsville, along the entire coast of the Gulf of Mexico to St. Marks, Florida. The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway provides over 1,300 miles (2,100 km) of protected waterway, 12′ deep and 125′ wide. The Harlingen Channel is maintained to a width of 125 feet (38 m) and a depth of 12 feet (3.7 m) and is supplied by the Arroyo Colorado, a fresh water river.


Union Pacific Railroad has a local terminal and switching yard in Harlingen. The Harlingen Industrial Parks and Port of Harlingen have direct rail access.

Harlingen has a rich history as a railroad town. The Southern Pacific depot has been razed, however, it was one of four SP depots in the Rio Grande Valley (the others are Brownsville, now a museum; McAllen, now a law office; and Edinburg, now the home of the Chamber of Commerce.)

Health care

Harlingen Medical Center is the advanced general acute care hospital in Harlingen. HMC specializes in advanced cardiovascular care, orthopedics, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology. The state-of-the-art facility opened in 2003 and boasts over 100 beds, all private rooms. Harlingen Medical Center provides some of the most advanced and up to date medical care in the Rio Grande Valley.

Valley Baptist Medical Center (VBMC) was founded in 1925 on F Street in Harlingen. It is currently located at Ed Carey Drive and Pease Street. It is a 600-bed not-for-profit hospital that also serves as the regional trauma center, including a stroke unit. VBMC also operates a country club, a restaurant (Magnolia Grille), and an exercise facility (Valley Baptist Health & Fitness Center).

Harlingen’s third hospital, Solara Hospital is a long-term acute care facility where patients can receive treatment for as long as a month, compared to general hospitals where patients are treated for shorter periods. The 41–bed hospital is owned by Solara Healthcare of Dallas, Valley Baptist Health System and local physicians.

Valley Diagnostic Clinic was a large outpatient facility with both primary care physicians and specialists in fields such as cardiology, gastroenterology, neurology, etc. After 55 years of operation, it closed under somewhat obscure circumstances in October 2009.

The Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC is a teaching hospital that serves as an extension campus of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Su Clinica Familiar offers services tailored to the border region, concentrating in the areas of dentistry, internal medicine, women’s health and pediatrics. Services are mostly tailored for the poor. It has a teaching partnership with the nearby Regional Academic Health Center.

Valley AirCare, Inc. provides emergency medical and critical patient transport helicopter service within 150 miles (240 km) of its Harlingen base and fixed-wing service throughout North America.

The South Texas VA Health Care Center is a satellite outpatient clinic of The Department of Veterans Affairs. The center opened in 2007 and offers primary care, laboratory, mental health, nutrition, social work, and additional services to eligible veterans.

The Harlingen Ambulatory Surgery and Specialty Outpatient Center will provide care to veterans and is expected to open in January 2011. Orthopedics, Urology, Gastroenterology, Otolaryngology (ENT), Infectious Disease, Dermatology, Cardiology, Oncology, Neurology, Rheumatology, Amputee/Prosthetics Clinic and Endoscopy services will be offered when the center opens.

The Rio Grande State Center is the only public provider in the Rio Grande Valley of healthcare, inpatient mental health services and long term services for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The center’s psychiatric hospital is a 55-bed in-patient facility and the long-term program is a 75-bed residential facility. The outpatient medical clinic provides primary care services to adults in south Texas.

The Ronald McDonald House on Treasure Hills Boulevard opened in 1998 and is funded by private donations, grants, and fundraising events. It is a “home away from home” for families of children being treated for serious illness or injury. Many families travel to large medical centers to get the best treatment for their children. Ronald McDonald Houses provide a safe, comfortable place for a family to stay as they face the trauma of their child’s illness. The family can stay in the House at a very nominal charge while their child is being diagnosed and treated for illness. There are 232 Houses in the United States and 22 other countries, providing approximately 6,000 rooms every night at Ronald McDonald Houses worldwide. Each Ronald McDonald House is run by a local non-profit organization of members of the medical community, business and civic leaders, parents/volunteers, and McDonald’s restaurant owners and operators.



Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum

Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum

Old Downtown Harlingen Texas

Old Downtown Harlingen Texas

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Valley International Airport

Valley International Airport

Old Downtown Harlingen Texas

Old Downtown Harlingen Texas

harlingen texas