Laredo, Texas

Laredo, Texas

Satelline view of Laredo Metropolitan area. Laredo is the seat of Webb County, Texas. Photograph Credit: NASA, public domain image via Wikipedia.

Laredo is on the Rio Grande in southwestern Webb County in South Texas, about 150 miles southwest of San Antonio and 135 miles west of Corpus Christi. It is served by Interstate Highway 35, U.S. highways 59 and 83, State Highway 359, Ranch Road 1472, and the Missouri Pacific and Texas Mexican railroads. This cosmopolitan city is a major port of entry for international trade and tourism between the United States and Mexico. Laredo was established in 1755, when Tomás Sánchez de la Barrera y Garza was granted permission by José de Escandón to form a new settlement about thirty miles upriver from Nuestra Señora de los Dolores Hacienda in what is now Zapata County. Laredo was the last town established under the authority of Escandón, who had been given responsibility for settling the province of Nuevo Santander. Altogether Escandón saw to the founding of twenty towns and eighteen missions in an attempt to thwart French incursion into Spanish territory and to propagate the Christian faith among the various Indian tribes of the region. Sánchez chose a site downriver from a ford later called El Paso de los Indios but known at that time as El Paso de Jacinto (after Jacinto de León of the San Juan Bautista garrison, who noted it in a report of 1745). About eight miles downriver from Laredo was another crossing, called the Don Miguel or Garza ford (after Miguel de la Garza Falcón). The ford upstream could be crossed by a person on horseback, while the one downstream could be forded by sheep and goats. Tienda de Cuervo, who inspected the community in 1757, reported that Laredo was the usual crossing place for those traveling to Texas from Nuevo León and Coahuila. The initial settlement at Laredo was made by Sánchez and three families from Dolores. They soon found that lack of rain restricted farming to the riverbottoms; the rest of the land lay too high above the river for irrigation. The raising of livestock-chiefly goats, sheep, and cattle-thus became their principal livelihood.

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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Laredo by the Numbers

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Population Counts

Pop. Year Source
255,205 2020 United States Census Bureau
268,057 2019 Texas Demographic Center
236,091 2010 United States Census Bureau
176,576 2000 United States Census Bureau
122,899 1990 United States Census Bureau
91,449 1980 United States Census Bureau
69,024 1970 United States Census Bureau
60,678 1960 United States Census Bureau
51,910 1950 United States Census Bureau
39,274 1940 United States Census Bureau
32,618 1930 United States Census Bureau
22,710 1920 United States Census Bureau
14,855 1910 United States Census Bureau
13,429 1900 United States Census Bureau
11,319 1890 United States Census Bureau
3,521 1880 United States Census Bureau
2,046 1870 United States Census Bureau
1,256 1860 United States Census Bureau