Brownsville Texas is the sixteenth most populous city in the state of Texas with a population of 178,430. It is located on the southernmost tip of Texas, United States on the northern bank of the Rio Grande, directly north and across the border from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. The 2011 World Gazetteer places the Brownsville-Harlingen metropolitan area population at 414,123 allotting it the eighth most populous metropolitan area in the state of Texas. In addition, the Matamoros–Brownsville Metropolitan Area counts with a population of 1,136,995, allotting it the fourth-largest metropolitan area along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The area in Brownsville is one of the fastest growing urban areas in the United States. The city’s population dramatically increased after it experienced a boom in the steel industry during the 1900s (decade), where it produced three times its annual capacity. Nowadays, the Port of Brownsville is a major economic hub for South Texas, where shipments from Mexico, other parts of the United States and the world arrive Brownsville’s economy is mainly based on its international trade with Mexico through the NAFTA agreement, and is home to one of the fastest growing manufacturing sectors in the nation. In addition, Brownsville’s climate has often been recognized among the best pro-business climates in the United States. and the city has also been ranked among the least expensive places to live in the U.S.
Brownsville served as a site for several battles and events in the Texas Revolution, the Mexican American War, and the American Civil War. And right across the U.S-Mexico border lies Matamoros, Tamaulipas, a city with a population of 500,000 people and a major site of the Mexican War of Independence, the Mexican Revolution and the French Intervention.
Brownsville Interactive Map:
In 1845, construction of a fort on the Mexican border was commissioned, due to increased instability in the region. Before completion, the Mexican Army began the Siege of Fort Texas, during the first active campaign in the , Mexican-American War between 3–9 May 1846. The first battle of the war occurred on 8 May 1846, when General Zachary Taylor received word of the siege of the fort. They rushed to help, but were intercepted, resulting in the Battle of Palo Alto about 5 miles (8.0 km) north of present-day Brownsville. The next morning the Mexican forces had retreated, and Taylor’s troops caught up with them, resulting in the Battle of Resaca de la Palma, which was fought within the present city limits. When Taylor finally arrived at the besieged Fort Texas, it was found that two soldiers had died, one of which was the fort’s commander, Major Jacob Brown. In his honor, General Taylor renamed the fort Fort Brown. An old cannon at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College marks the spot where Major Brown was fatally wounded.
Contrary to popular belief, however, there is little, if any, evidence that the Fort was called “Fort Texas.” In fact, most official correspondence from the time describes the fort as “camp near Matamoros.”
The city of Brownsville was originally established late in 1848 by Charles Stillman, and was made the county seat of the new Cameron County on 13 January 1849. The city was originally incorporated by the state on 24 January 1850. This was repealed on 1 April 1852, due to a land ownership dispute between Stillman and the former owners. The state reincorporated the city on 7 February 1853, which remains in effect. The issue of ownership was not decided until 1879, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Stillman.
On July 13, 1859, the First Cortina War started. Juan Nepomuceno Cortina would become one of the most important historical figures of the area, and continued to exert a decisive influence in the local events until his arrest in 1875. The First Cortina War ended on December 27, 1859. In May 1861, the brief Second Cortina War took place.
During the Civil War Brownsville was used as a smuggling point for Confederate goods into Mexico, most importantly cotton smuggled to European ships waiting at the Mexican port of Bagdad. Fort Brown was controlled by the Confederates. In November 1863, Union troops landed at Port Isabel and marched for Brownsville to stop the smuggling. In the ensuing battle of Brownsville Confederate forces abandoned the fort, blowing it up with 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg) of explosives. In 1864, the town was reoccupied by the Confederates under John Salmon ‘Rip’ Ford. On May 15, 1865, a month after the surrender had been signed at Appomattox Court House, the Battle of Palmito Ranch was fought and won by the Confederates. Ulysses S. Grant sent Union General Frederick Steele to Brownsville to patrol the Mexican-American border after Civil War to aid the Juaristas with military supplies.
On 13 and 14 August 1906, Brownsville was the site of the Brownsville Affair. Racial tensions were high between white townsfolk and black infantrymen stationed at Fort Brown. On the night of 13 August, one white bartender was killed and a white police officer was wounded by rifle shots in the street. Townsfolk, including the mayor, accused the infantrymen as the murderers. Without a chance to defend themselves in a hearing, President Theodore Roosevelt dishonorably discharged the entire 167 member regiment due to their accused “conspiracy of silence”. Further investigations in the 1970s found that they were not at fault, and the Nixon Administration reversed all dishonorable discharges.
On September 8, 1926, The Junior College of the Lower Rio Grande Valley (later known as Texas Southmost College) admitted its first class. In 1945 Fort Brown was decommissioned and in 1948 the City and College acquired the land. Between 1945 to 1970 Brownsville population continued to grow gradually, doubled from 25,000 to 52,000 people. In 1991 Brownsville received a University via the partnership between the University of Texas at Brownsville.
Brownsville was declared an All-America City in the year 2001.
On December 25, 2004, Brownsville had its first instance of measurable snow in 109 years, with 1.5 inches (3.8 cm), and the first recorded White Christmas. This was part of the 2004 Christmas Eve Snowstorm.
Mexican-American War Brownsville is located on the (marked here by the Rio Grande) from Matamoros, Tamaulipas.
Broad-leaf evergreen plants, including palms, dominate Brownsville neighborhoods to a greater degree than is seen elsewhere in Texas—even in nearby cities such as Harlingen and San Benito. Soils are mostly of clay to silty clay loam texture, moderately alkaline (pH 8.2) to strongly alkaline (pH8.5) and with a significant degree of salinity in many places.
According to the city of Brownsville, the city has a total area of 147.5 square miles (382 km2), making it by far the largest American city by land area in the lower Rio Grande Valley and third largest American city by land area along the U.S.-Mexico border, after San Diego, California and El Paso, Texas. 144.9 square miles (375 km2) of it is land and 2.6 square miles (6.7 km2) of it (3.16%) is water.
In addition to being the southernmost city in Texas, Brownsville is among the southernmost of all contiguous U.S. cities. Within the contiguous United States, only a handful of municipalities in Florida’s Miami-Dade and Monroe counties (plus Everglades City in Collier County) are further south than Brownsville, which lies at roughly the same latitude as North Miami Beach in northern Miami-Dade County.
Brownsville is now one of the first cities in the U.S. and Texas to ban the use of plastic shopping bags, reaching closer toward its goals of a greener, cleaner city. This has led other cities in the area to also consider such a ban. In addition, Forbes has identified Brownsville as one of 12 metro areas in the U.S. with the cleanest air; Laredo, Texas was the only other Texas metro area to be among the 12.
Brownsville received the theoretical maximum worst score (72) for its level of human influence on the environment. This is the place where the maximum was observed. It ranked higher than the most populous metropolitan cities.
Brownsville has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), just outside of a hot semi-arid climate. Yet the nearby ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico help keep Brownsville cooler during the summer relative to cities further inland such as Laredo and McAllen. Thus temperatures above 100 °F (37.8 °C) are uncommon, with an average of only 1.1 days reaching that level of heat. At the other extreme, there is an average of one to two nights per year with freezing temperatures. Rainfall tends to be the heaviest in summer and early part of fall, although it is not unheard of for Brownsville to go for weeks or sometimes months without any rainfall even during the “wet” season. Extreme temperatures range from 12 °F (−11 °C) in February 1899 to106 °F (41 °C) in March 1984. The greatest snowfall in a day and a season was 1.5 inches (3.8 cm), which fell on December 25, 2004.
Brownsville’s location at the intersection of different climate regimes (subtropical, Chihuahuan desert, Gulf Coast plain, and Great Plains) causes it to be a birding location. Its unique network of resacas (dis-tributaries of the Rio Grande and oxbow lakes) provide habitat for nesting / breeding birds of various types – most notably during the Spring and Fall migrations.
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