McAllen is the largest city in Hidalgo County, Texas, United States, and the 22nd-most populous city in Texas. It is located at the southern tip of the state in the Rio Grande Valley. The city limits extend south to the Rio Grande, across from the Mexican city of Reynosa. McAllen is about 70 mi (110 km) west of the Gulf of Mexico. As of 2019, McAllen's population was estimated to be 143,268. It is the fifth-most populous metropolitan area (McAllen–Edinburg–Mission) in the state of Texas, and the binational Reynosa–McAllen metropolitan area counts a population of nearly 1.52 million.
From its settlement in 1904, the area around McAllen was largely rural and agricultural in character, but the latter half of the 20th century had steady growth, which has continued in the 21st century in the metropolitan area. The introduction of the maquiladora economy and the North American Free Trade Association led to an increase in cross-border trading with Mexico.
In 1904, the Hidalgo and San Miguel Extension (now the Sam Fordyce Branch) of the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway reached the Santa Anita Ranch. John McAllen and his son James had donated land to the railroad to guarantee it would cross this area. On December 5, 1904, the McAllen Townsite Company was formed by Uriah Lott, Leonidas C. Hill Sr., John McAllen, James Ballí McAllen, and John J. Young.