Pharr is on the Missouri Pacific line and old U.S. Highway 83 (now Interstate Highway 2), just to the east of McAllen in south central Hidalgo County. Its site is within a Spanish land grant made in 1767 to Juan José Hinojosa. The Hinojosa family and heirs sold off portions of their land to various groups in the late nineteenth century and occupied the area as late as 1882. In 1909 John Connally Kelley, Sr., and Henry N. Pharr, a Louisiana sugarcane grower, became co-owners of 16,000 acres, with two miles of frontage on the river. Pharr founded the Louisiana and Rio Grande Canal Company and constructed an irrigation system to establish a sugar plantation. Kelley formed the Pharr Townsite Company, which platted the town that he named Pharr in honor of his partner. By 1911 the community was a stop on the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway, and 4,000 acres had been sold for settlement. A hotel, a bank, and various businesses were also in operation. Pharr's plantation venture failed with the collapse of the Rio Grande valley sugarcane industry. Kelley then took over the irrigation system and continued to supply water to area vegetable and cotton farms. In 1915 the town's population was estimated at 600, and by that year schools had opened, with Mexican students attending classes at the six-grade East Juárez school. When the site for the school was moved, it became known as Pharr Grammar School for Mexican Children. Separate facilities for junior and senior high school students were not provided because Mexican children were not expected to get beyond grammar school.

Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

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Place type

Pharr is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Las Milpas-Hidalgo Park)


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Pharr by the Numbers

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Population Counts

Pop. Year Source
79,715 2020 United States Census Bureau
81,399 2019 Texas Demographic Center
70,400 2010 United States Census Bureau
46,660 2000 United States Census Bureau
32,921 1990 United States Census Bureau
21,381 1980 United States Census Bureau
15,829 1970 United States Census Bureau
14,106 1960 United States Census Bureau
8,690 1950 United States Census Bureau
4,784 1940 United States Census Bureau
3,225 1930 United States Census Bureau
1,565 1920 United States Census Bureau