The population was estimated 135,000 in 2012 by the US Census Bureau, while the McAllen/Edinburg/Mission Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 774,769 in 2010.
Its southern boundary is located about five miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, the Rio Grande River and about 70 miles west of South Padre Island and the Gulf of Mexico. McAllen is one of the fastest growing cities in the country.
It wasn’t until the early 1850’s, when John McAllen arrived in the Rio Grande Valley, did development begin to come together where McAllen is today. John McAllen and others established a town site in 1904 known then as West McAllen and the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railroad reached the town site a year later. In 1907, other developers started a town on their own land tract and named it East McAllen.
The two groups joined forces soon thereafter and by 1910 several businesses, churches, residences and a newspaper had been built. McAllen had a population of 150 in 1910. The next year the City of McAllen was incorporated, and by 1920 the city had grown to over 5,300 residents.
McAllen grew steadily over the next several decades and the U.S. Census reported in 1960 that McAllen had 32,728 residents. In the 1960’s, the city did not add many residents, but did build a new city hall, double the size of its library and establish a museum and had already added a civic center and airport the previous decade.
The city exploded with growth in the 1970’s and by 1980 almost doubled in population to 66,281 and continued to grow steadily. La Plaza Mall opened its doors in 1976.
Over the last three decades, McAllen has transformed into the Valley’s business, commerce and government leader. The city has become home to scores of national businesses and the center of most state and federal government operations in the Valley.