Harlingen is home to everything tropical, from the red-crowned parrots to the palm trees and bougainvilleas that dominate the landscape. Aloe vera farms and citrus groves surround the city. Mexico and the seashell-littered beaches of South Padre Island are only minutes away.
Harlingen was developed at the crossroads of major national rail lines, and has long been an important trade and transportation center. Incorporated in 1910, its namesake was a canal-encircled town in the Netherlands, the ancestral home of railroad president, Col. Uriah Lott.
Cotton, sugar cane, and vegetables became early reasons for the city's prosperity. Harlingen has survived freezes, floods, and a hurricane in 1933. The city changed forever with the start of World War II, and the creation of an aerial gunnery school at Harlingen Army Air Field, which later became Harlingen Air Force Base. The Port of Harlingen opened in 1952 and began barging Valley sugar and grain north.
Today, the city continues to be a magnet for thousands of retirees from the Midwest and Canada. Some have become full-time residents, while others known as "Winter Texans" live in Harlingen during the winter months. In addition, numerous visitors from Mexico shop and dine in Harlingen on a regular basis. Amateur sports tournaments and annual events such as RioFest, the Jackson Street Jubilee, and the 10K Rio Run attract visitors from throughout the region and the state. Harlingen's Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival attracts birders from around the world. Harlingen also is home to Texas State Technical College and the Marine Military Academy.