1902 Lon C. Hill purchased the tract where Harlingen is approximately located, from Mrs. Henrietta King of King Ranch. The initial purchase was made for exactly 13,837 acres for $1.50 to $2.50 an acre depending on the condition of the land.
Our founder, Lon C. Hill, envisioned a railroad, the initial development of an irrigation system and a deepwater port for Harlingen on the Arroyo, which was later developed in and around the fertile lands of Harlingen.
In 1904, an unfortunate turn of events happened to the Hill family. Mrs. Hill and a son died in November of Typhoid Fever. Three months later, Mr. Hill took his children to the partially completed ranch house in Harlingen after the deaths in their family.
The hub and town center of Harlingen was Van Buren and First Streets where a hotel, general stores, hardware, drug stores, a barbershop, saloons, blacksmith shop, etc. made their home.
Texas Rangers also made their headquarters along the tracks and gathered at pistol ranges near the depot, coining the phrase, “Six Shooter Junction”.
1904 The first passenger train passes through Harlingen en route to Brownsville.
1909 The Harlingen Star began printing their first papers this year. This is the beginning of what is now the Valley Morning Star.
In 1910 the City Incorporated. The First City Marshall was delegated. E.W. Anglin, is paid $50 per month.
In the early 20th Century bandit attacks in the Rio Grande Valley were frequent. When bandit attacks occurred, the Hill home became an arsenal. One room (locked) downstairs held a sizeable stock of ammunition.
Harlingen became a commercial hub in the early 1920’s. Agriculture took root in the cotton, citrus and vegetable industries. All were packed, refrigerated, and shipped from facilities within the city.
Valley Baptist Hospital, one of Harlingen’s healthcare providers, opened its doors in 1925.
Because the industry was booming here, families began making Harlingen home. “Silk Stocking Row” known for its architecture and striking beauty along East Taylor Street reflects the affluence of the city’s merchants and professionals as the city grew in the 1920’s.
A depressed US economy still lingered in Harlingen in the late 1930’s. Finally, on May 3, 1941 the War Department then accepted Harlingen’s invitation to establish a military airfield on the 960 acres. The Harlingen Army Gunnery School was then established.
1941 KGBT-TV became an affiliate of the Columbia Broadcasting System.
In 1962 the Harlingen Air Force Base closes, devastating Harlingen’s economy.
1963 The city’s advertising campaign in the Midwest brings in Midwest retirees who buy 576 houses. This campaign has consistently brought migrants from the Midwestern United States to the Rio Grande Valley.
The James Connally Technical Institute opens, now Texas State Technical College, in 1967.
The City of Harlingen’s airport moved in 1967.
1970 Sam Lozano, whose ancestor bought the first lot on Jackson Street, sworn in as the city’s first Hispanic mayor.
1973 Southwest Airlines extends their service to the Rio Grande Valley in Harlingen.
1989 The Downtown Improvement District is established.
In 1994, the passage of NAFTA causes a surge in border business development.
2002 Harlingen’s second hospital opens, the Harlingen Medical Center.
2002 The Regional Academic Health Center opens, it is a branch medical education center for students attending the University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio in their third and fourth year of medical school.
2007 The South Texas Veterans Healthcare Center was opened for Veteran patients.
2008 Harlingen is congratulated as a Go Texan Certified Retirement Community by the Texas Department of Agriculture