Introduction to Harlingen, Texas
Harlingen is located in the Rio Grande Valley of the southern portion of Texas in Cameron County. It's close to the popular South Padre Island Beach as well as world class bird watching locations. Crossing over the border to nearby Mexico provides a variety of shopping opportunities.
In 1904 Lon C. Hill purchased a large acreage of fertile delta land and established irrigation canals in order to attract farmers form the Midwest. He named the town in tribute to Harlingen of the Netherlands which had a similar canal system. In the beginning, agriculture including vegetables and cotton were the primary factors for the economy.
The town became a prominent commerce and transportation center. During World War II, military facilities were established which produced a significant increase in the population. During the late 1980's citrus fruit, tourism, grain and cotton production were important parts of the economy.
- Valley Race Park offers greyhound dog racing.
- South Padre Island Beaches.
- National Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valley.
- Jackson Street Historic District provides unique shops, outdoor movie nights and a variety of community events.
- La Placita Diaz/Guiterrez Park includes plazas from the Hispanic custom.
- Harlingen Municipal Auditorium provides concerts and theatrical performances.
Museums and Structures
- Rio Grande Valley Museum.
- Port Isable Historical Museum.
- The Joyner Home is an attractive Italian-style villa.
- The Pink House is a southern Colonial style home.
- Tichenor Home has Georgian-style architecture.
- The Berly Home is an attractive three story home made from bricks.
- South Ward/Bowie Elementary School features an attractive facade featuring artwork resembling Toltec feather headdresses, Aztec heads and a fabled Mexican serpent.
- The Harlingen High School/Vernon Middle School was constructed in a Spanish revival style.
The city is well known for tropical bird watching due to being situated at the convergence of two primary flyways. Several of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail locations are in Harlingen including the Harlingen Thicket Bird Sanctuary. The Laguna Atascosa NWR is located next to the beautiful Laguna Madre and the Santa Ana NWR is a notable location which provides tram tours during the winter.
The nearby Los Ebanos Preserve includes nature trails, gardens, a variety of birds and a vast amount of butterflies. World Birding Center offers a large trail area. The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival is the largest nature festival in the region. The Arroyo Queen is a notable tour. The noteworthy Extravaganza Folklorica included ethnic costumes, music and dancing.
The city is served by the Valley International Airport. The busy Free Trade Bridge is located near Harlingen and includes a prominent U.S. Customs inspection center.
A campus of the Texas State Technical College is situated in Harlingen. South Texas College, University of Texas Pan American and University of Texas at Brownsville are nearby.