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Urbanization of Southwest to Impacts of Railroad Expansion


Urbanization in the Southwest


Thus by taking advantage of the discontents of Mexican rural farmers the United States was able to ease its labor shortage with the use of Mexican immigrant labor. Railroads helped settle North Americans in Texas as well as Mexican immigrant laborers. The railroads that were created in the late nineteenth century in the United States further strengthened the growth of population and economic power in Texas, Eight hundred, families have settled on the public lands alone of West and Southwest Texas in the past eight monthsespecially Southwest Texas is growing by leaps and bounds.[1] The railroads that were created in the United States linked Texas to Mexico and vice versa and thus aided the vital deliverance of Mexican immigrant labor to the region that would ultimately enable the Texan economy to grow at surprising rates.

The fact that Mexican immigrant labor was invaluable to the development and evolution of the southwestern economy is evidenced by this statement in the Brownsville Daily Herald in 1907, The cry of the West for labor, which continues to fall as far short of demandsis one of the signs that prosperity remains at high pressure.[2] Economic prosperity in a developing society is derived from basic economic needs. Industries were suffering out of the necessity of a large and cheap labor force. Mexican immigrant labor would provide the foundation of the economic boom that occurred in the Texas in the early twentieth century. The excited buzzing in the government offices of American business promoters, long anxious to take part in the development of Mexican resources, finally obtained the terms which would make this development possible.[3] American contractors were drawn to the economic possibilities that the Mexican government had indirectly offered them in manual labor resources, especially railroads.

Railroads were consistently the primary industrial engines that delivered goods to the ever-developing border town/cities in the southwest. Urbanization in the southwest flourished after the construction of railroad systems in both the United States as well as in Mexico. The railroads also influenced the location of the cities that were developing along the border because railroads encouraged urbanization mainly due to the influx of goods and more importantly immigrant labor.[4]

Railroad contact with the outside world, including transcontinental routes operated by the Southern Pacific and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroads, provided links to the national economy and helped the towns to expand as trade and distribution centers for productive hinterlands. Their emergence as vital hubs facilitated the economic exploitation of the Southwest, and they played a large role in civilizing the region. They became the centers of business districts, military posts, and universities.[5]

The Mexican and American railroads physically linked the areas of southern Texas to Mexico at three railroads points as seen in a map from 1888 of the Mexican National Railroad. These became major ports of entry for the Mexican laborers and some later became major cities of the Southwest. Other cities grew and flourished at major points along the railway routes. Throughout the southwest in states such as Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Texas, urban centers that had developed in those areas have been key to the development of the southwest in general, and these cities continue the trend of rapid development both culturally and economically.[6] Texas was also a focal point of railroad activity in the southwest. Brownsville, located in the southern-most part of Texas and one of early ports of entry, connected directly with Mexico via the Grande Railroad, a railway built along the border of Texas and Mexico. In the mid 1890s this border town had a significant population of Mexican immigrants accounting for about 5250 out of the 7000 residents, which is about seventy-five percent of the total population.[7] A city in Mexico closely bordered Brownville, which was Matamoros, had a population of 10,000 and when it was connected to the railroad Mexican immigration and rail work aided in the further development of this city.[8] This was most likely due to the fact that it was connected to the Grande Railroad, a railway built along the border of Texas and Mexico. As the Mexican labor in the area increased due to the railroads it replaced that of the African American according to the Brownsville Daily Herald, In many localities in Texas they have almost entirely supplanted the Negro as farm laborers, proving more tractable and industrious. To the higher wages paid farm laborers in the United States is, in a great measure, the influx of Mexicans due.[9]

In addition to the growth of border towns, free trade zones also emerged. Called the Zona Libre, this literally translates as free zone but in an economic instance it is better described as a free trade zone the free zone being a strip of land along the U.S.-Mexico border where trade was cheap and plentiful. This trade often resulted in Mexicans crossing the border, which further perpetuated the importation of laborers in the developing southwest.  This zone of trade was of great commercial importance to people on both sides of the border.  However, there was some debate among officials in the United States as to the benefit of the Zona Libre.  Officials had been sent to Mexico City to conduct diplomatic relations with President Diaz in order to preserve the free trade zone, Seņor Amado Gonzalezto intercede with President Diaz, to prevent the abolishment of the Zona Libre.[10]  Opponents of the Zona Libre like Senator Reagan supported a bill that was to prevent this type of trade because it was deemed an illegitimate business practice and allowed unexamined foreign goods [to enter]the United States.[11] It was soon realized that when Mexican immigrant labor came over the border it had a tendency to overstay its welcome, which led to negative social tensions decades later. The bill was not likely to be passed to the relief of various border towns located in southern Texas as seen in the Galveston Daily Newsin 1890, we have reason to fear that the former will be without result, while we are satisfied that the latter will not receive the approval of the senate.[12] The trade in goods augmented the relations between Americans and Mexicans along the border promoting more development of southern Texas and other areas along the border.

During the1890s many European settlers and American-born peoples as well were settling in the southwest and numerous businesses started to sprout up. Many of these businesses were agrarian based since a vast amount of land to be farmed was located in the southwest. This situation created an immense need in the agricultural labor systems that the Mexican laborers filled. Due to the co-mingling of Mexicans and Americans a diverse demographic southwest began to emerge. In just a few decades the population of Mexican-born people in the U.S. increased rapidly. By the end of the 1890s the Mexican-born population had increased moderately, to approximately 78,000and between 1900 and 1910 the Mexican-born population grew approximately 103,00 to almost 222,000.[13] Thus this population growth helped the southwe

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