City of Port Isabel (Port Isabel, TX)


  • Name:Mrs. Margie Jacobs
  • Title:Grant Writer / EDC Administrative Assistant

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:City of Port Isabel
  • Address:305 E. Maxan Street
    Port Isabel, TX 78578
    United States

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:956-943-2682
  • Main fax:956-943-2029

Organization Web

User Email


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  • Mission:
  • Port Isabel is a family-oriented community strongly connected with its history as a seaport, recreational fishing and shrimping village. Port Isabel is a “one-of-a kind” seaside village; a unique tourist destination that includes recreational opportunities; an emerging artisan community and an eclectic historic downtown; a well rounded community that offers plenty of business and well-paid employment opportunities for its citizens. In such a way, Port Isabel will support improvements to our education system in order to provide better opportunities for our children and our future; cultivate our history and heritage; encourage and demonstrate “green” and sustainable development practices; develop fair and equitable ordinances and consistently and uniformly enforce those ordinances; and invest in our public infrastructure in order to provide multiple modes of travel, and safe and reliable utilities. We believe these action steps will improve the quality of life for residents.

  • Overview:
  • The City of Port Isabel was developed at the Southeastern tip of Texas in Cameron County, 22 miles northeast of Brownsville, 25 miles from the U.S. border with Mexico, and 35 miles southeast of Harlingen, Texas. The city is located along the Laguna Madre Bay which is part of the Gulf of Mexico Intracoastal Waterway. This area of South Texas is part of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
    The 2010 Census lists 5,006 residents in Port Isabel. These people live in 2,206 housing units, half owned and half rented. The median household income is $22, 969; and 37.3 percent of residents live in poverty. The population is 86 percent Hispanic or Latino, and many are Spanish speaking only.
    In addition, the City and Lower Rio Grande Valley are home to approximately 25,000 "Winter Texans" who reside in the area for up to six months per year. These folk come from all over the continental United States, Canada, Mexico, and parts of Europe to winter in the warmer climate.
    Port Isabel is a family-oriented community with a history as a seaport, recreational fishing and shrimpers’ village. It also has light industry, retail, and commercial businesses.
    The economy is heavily based on tourism and over two-thirds of the population are employed in accommodation and food services, sales, and professional occupations. The remainder of employed persons work in the areas of farming, fishing, construction, transportation, maintenance, and occupations related to marine activities.

  • History:
  • The area now known as Port Isabel was discovered by Alonso Alvarez de Pineda who was a Spanish explorer and map-maker. De Pineda sailed for the Spanish Governor of Jamaica, Francisco de Garay, who sent him to explore and chart the Gulf Coast from Florida to Mexico in 1519. Then, in 1523, de Garay sailed into Brazos Santiago Pass from the Gulf of Mexico to the intercoastal waterway on Saint James Day and named the pass “El Paso de los Brazos de Santiago” (The Arms of Saint James Pass) in his honor. Later, Brazos Island was named after the pass.
    In 1554, a Spanish treasure fleet left Mexico en route to Spain and was demolished by a violent hurricane. Several boats were wrecked on what is now known as South Padre Island, and a few survivors began to walk the beach towards Vera Cruz, Mexico. Some of the survivors walked through our area, but only one reached Vera Cruz. The rest fell victim to the harsh elements and ferocious Indians.
    1560-1700 – This area, known as the Wild Horse Desert, remained unexplored and was only inhabited by local Indians and wildlife. This was the last area of the Gulf Coast to be settled as it was considered the harshest environment of all areas the Spaniards desired to settle.
    By the late 1700s the area, called El Fronton de Santa Isabel, had become a small fishing village. The name fronton means ‘bluff’ or ‘wall’ and came from the steep face of the hill that faced the bay in the area of the current fishing pier. El Fronton was built here because this bluff could easily be seen from the Brazos Santiago Pass. From the 1770s-1840s the region, still considered part of Mexico, became a summer resort area for ranchers; a Mexican fort was built on Brazos Island; the Texas navy sank a Mexican navy gun boat; and a Mexican Customs House was built.
    Then, in 1846, General Zachary Taylor and the U.S. Army set up Fort Polk at the present site of Lighthouse Square, and renamed the town “Point Isabel." The area grew and played an important role in the Mexican War (1846-1848;) and became a stopping point on the way to the Gold Rush of the 1850s.
    The area was greatly impacted by the Civil War from 1861-1864. Both Union and Confederate troops came to the area. A small battle was held near the lighthouse which had been built in 1852, and the Confederate army attempted to blow it up while evacuating Point Isabel, but without success.
    Following the war, a hurricane leveled Point Isabel in 1867. Then the area began to rebuild and became a prosperous seaport and summer resort. In 1872 Point Isabel became a stop for the Rio Grande Railroad from Brownsville, TX; and later a sailing point for the Spanish-American War of 1898.
    During the early 1900s Point Isabel became known for its commercial fishing, and eventually for its sports fishing and tourism. The modern city came into being in 1928 when the Point Isabel Land Company modernized and developed the original town site, and renamed the city Port Isabel, with hopes that the City would become a deep water coastal port.
    After another hurricane hit Port Isabel in 1933, the shrimping industry became the mainstay for most families in the area, and Port Isabel became the Shrimp Capital of the World until the industry decline in the 1960s. At that time the City's economy was forced to evolve. Tourism became the main stimulus for the economy, and in recent years the focus has been on eco-tourism.

  • Year established:1928
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Executive / Trustee board size:5
  • Advisory board size:30
  • Staff size:125


  • Organization type:Government Agency
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:170(c)(1)
  • IRS Subsection:None
  • Tax ID:746001921