Although travelers had passed through and explored South Texas, it wasn't until the 1740's that established settlement began to dot the landscape, mostly on the south side of the Rio Grande.
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 established 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.
In 1993, mcAllen-Miller International Airport was completed and first-ever students registered at the newly created South Texas Community College. A new city hall building was dedicated in 1995.
The old Southern Pacific Railroad Depot is one of the more graceful buildings in McAllen. It opened for service in August 1927, and served as a passenger terminal until 1952. From 1953-1985 it was occupied by a number of public agencies, including the police department, jail and municipal court. It was restored by a group of attorneys who use it for their law office. This building has a Texas Historical Commission Marker.
Archer Park was deeded to the City of McAllen for use as a public park by Mayor Oliver Pearcy Archer. McAllen City Commission named Archer Park in 1933. From 1936 - 1949 the McAllen Public Library was housed in the basement area under the bandstand. It is the site of many community activities such as the Christmas Posada and 4th of July celebrations.
The existing structure of the First United Methodist Church on 221 Main Street was built in 1928. This building has an official Historical Marker. The first Methodist Church sanctuary in McAllen was built in 1909.
Today, McAllen enjoys explosive growth and the near-constant addition of new and beautiful buildings in our city. The Texas State Bank building was erected in 1998 in north McAllen.
To learn more about McAllen's history visit the McAllen Heritage Center in Downtown McAllen.