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Downtown Mercedes in August 2010
The Queen City
"It Starts Here!"
Location of Mercedes, Texas
|Country||United States of America|
|• Total||11.5 sq mi (29.8 km2)|
|• Land||11.4 sq mi (29.6 km2)|
|• Water||0.08 sq mi (0.2 km2)|
|Elevation||69 ft (21 m)|
|• Density||1,362/sq mi (525.8/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central (CST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||1341366|
The Interstate 2/U.S. Route 83 freeway passes through the northern side of Mercedes, leading west 21 miles (34 km) to McAllen and east 14 miles (23 km) to Harlingen. Mercedes is 9 miles (14 km) north of the Progreso–Nuevo Progreso International Bridge over the Rio Grande, connecting Texas with the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Mercedes has a total area of 11.5 square miles (29.8 km2), of which 11.4 square miles (29.6 km2) are land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km2), or 0.55%, are water.
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Mercedes is known as "The Queen City of the Valley" or "La Reina del Valle". Mercedes was founded September 15, 1907, by the American Rio Grande Land & Irrigation Company, and was incorporated March 8, 1909. It is one of the oldest towns in the Rio Grande Valley, and the city celebrated its centennial in 2007.
The city was located in Capisallo Pasture, part of Capisallo Ranch owned by Jim Welles. This location was known as the Pear Orchard because of the vast numbers of prickly pear cactus growing there at that time.
Some sources[who?] state that the original name given to the city was "Diaz" in honor of Porfirio Diaz, then president of Mexico. Later it was supposedly renamed "Mercedes Diaz" in honor of the president's wife, and from that, Mercedes became the Queen City. This story, however, is historically inaccurate, given that neither of Diaz's two wives were named Mercedes.
General Zachary Taylor's headquarters was to the southeast of Mercedes near the Rio Grande. There the old Rabb Ranch was famous for its stagecoach stop and landing for the riverboats carrying supplies to the settlements and military installations.
The old Toluca Ranch still stands east of the International Bridge at Progreso, the sister city to the south. This ranch was close to the river and a prized target for the bandidos during the days of Pancho Villa. It was built with many secret rooms and passages, and had heavy wooden shutters on the windows to protect its residents.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
At the 2000 census, there were 13,649 people, 4,170 households and 3,348 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,591.2 per square mile (614.2/km²). There were 5,455 housing units at an average density of 636.0 per square mile (245.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 79.42% White, 0.36% African American, 0.89% Native American, 0.07% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 16.95% from other races, and 2.31% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 90.01% of the population.
There were 4,170 households of which 41.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.7% were married couples living together, 21.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.7% were non-families. 18.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.27 and the average family size was 3.75.
32.9% of the population were under the age of 18, 11.5% from 18 to 24, 22.8% from 25 to 44, 18.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.3 males.
The median household income was $23,064 and the median family income was $25,339. Males had a median income of $19,945 versus $18,387 for females. The per capita income for the city was $8,658. About 30.4% of families and 36.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 49.4% of those under age 18 and 30.3% of those age 65 or over.
The Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets, owned by Chelsea Property Group which is a brand of Simon Property Group, opened in November 2006. The city is roughly the geographical center of the Rio Grande Valley urban agglomeration and is located on Interstate 2/U.S. Highway 83, which connects the major urban centers of McAllen, Brownsville and Harlingen. The city is located near a major Mexico – United States border crossing making it accessible to the growing middle class population of Nuevo León and Tamaulipas.
Government and infrastructure
Current elected city officials (2019):
- Henry Hinojosa, Mayor
- Leo Villarreal, Mayor Pro-Tem, Commissioner Place 1
- Leonel Benavidez, Commissioner Place 2
- Cristella “Cris” De Leon Hernandez, Commissioner Place 3
- Jose M. Gomez, Commissioner Place 4
- Sergio Zavala, City Manager:
- Dagoberto Chavez, Asst. City Mngr/Chief of Police
Mercedes is divided between two school districts: eastern Mercedes is in the Mercedes Independent School District, zoned to Mercedes High School, while western Mercedes is in the Weslaco Independent School District, zoned to Weslaco East High School
In 2015, the city joined other cities in south Texas in support of the newly formed University of Texas Rio Grande Valley by adopting a resolution declaring August 31 as UTRGV day. Also, they recognized the university by installing a boot with the university logos right across the municipal city hall.
Dr Hector P Garcia Library serves Mercedes.
Mercedes is home to a unique public art project: there are 30 handcrafted 5 1⁄2-foot-tall (1.7 m) cowboy boots dispersed throughout the city, each painted with the insignia of different colleges from around the state, country and even Mexico. People who are passionate about their alma mater come from all over to take a picture with their boot.
These FM radio stations broadcast from Mercedes:
- Natalia Anciso — artist and educator
- Rolando Hinojosa — author and professor of English
- Billy Gene Pemelton—Olympic pole vaulter (1964)
- Elida Reyna — Tejano musician
- Jeff Wentworth — state senator
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Mercedes has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
- "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Census Summary File 1 (G001): Mercedes city, Texas". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 21, 2020.
- "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- Chozick, Amy (March 3, 2006). "Thanks to Mexican Shoppers, Retail Booms on Texas Border". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
- "Post Office Location - MERCEDES Archived 2010-05-05 at the Wayback Machine." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 9, 2010.
- "City Commission". City of Mercedes. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
- "City Manager". City of Mercedes. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
- "It Starts Here!". City of Mercedes. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
- "SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP (2010 CENSUS): Hidalgo County, TX." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on July 9, 2017.
- "High School Attendance Zones[permanent dead link]." Weslaco Independent School District. Retrieved on July 11, 2017. Persons using Mozilla Firefox to directly view this file may encounter problems
- "Contact STISD." South Texas Independent School District. Retrieved on May 9, 2010.
- "City of Mercedes Resolution" (PDF).
- KRGV. "Mercedes Helps UTRGV Kick Off with a New Boot". Archived from the original on 2015-08-23. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
- "Mercedes Public Library Archived 2007-08-11 at the Wayback Machine." Hidalgo County Library System. Retrieved on May 9, 2010.
- Climate Summary for Mercedes, Texas