The hardening U.S.-Mexico border of the 2010s has been increasingly defined by walls and division, but symbolic bridges continue to tie the two countries’ people together. One such recent link is the newest bridge on the U.S.-Mexican border, the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) linking the Tijuana International Airport (TIJ) in Mexico with a passenger check-in terminal in San Diego, California, making TIJ the only airport in the world with terminals in two different countries. Open since 2015, the CBX (aka, “La Puerta de las Californias”) symbolizes the two countries’ ability (and inability) to cooperate. Grab onto your luggage as we rush across the CBX’s history to our flight in Tijuana!
We have explored the Gateway International Bridge (AKA the “New Bridge”) and the iconic Puerta México into Matamoros and now we will explore the main U.S. port of entry into Brownsville: the Gateway Port of Entry. Situated north of the Gateway Bridge (symbolic for demonstrating the transborder ties between the U.S. and Mexico), the Brownsville Gateway Port of Entry could also be considered symbolic due to its long history. If the Puerta México welcomes us to northeastern Mexico, is the Gateway Port of Entry similarly welcoming into South Texas?
This vehicular and pedestrian crossing along the Gateway Bridge is the busiest border crossing between the sister communities of Brownsville and Matamoros. The international border is seen in the center of the image (note how the sidewalk surface changes, marking the dividing point between Mexico and the U.S.)
Situated just 25 miles (40km) from the mouth of the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo del Norte) on the Gulf of Mexico, the binational cities of Matamoros and Brownsville anchor the extreme east of the Mexico-U.S. international border. Brownsville – on the southernmost tip of Texas – and Matamoros – itself near the extreme northeast point of Mexico in the state of Tamaulipas – form a classic example of a cross-border sister city community, although in recent years the rise of narco violence on the Mexican side and the U.S. government’s desires to build more border walls in this area have gotten more attention than the rich bicultural histories of these cities. Today we will better appreciate some of this historical heritage by exploring a common, but extremely significant symbol in the Mexico-Texas border region: the symbol of the international bridge. In crossing the Gateway International Bridge (or Puente Nuevo/New Bridge) between Matamoros and Brownsville we will dust off the cob webs of another chapter in the cross-border history of Mexico and the United States.
U.S.-Mexican, Latino, and Border Historian