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.
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Promotion: Nearby Map of Webb County

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.

From 1755 to 1760 Laredo had no resident clergy but was visited on occasion by Franciscans stationed in Revilla (later named Guerrero), some sixty miles downriver. In 1760, however, Laredo received a resident priest, becoming the second oldest parish (after San Fernando de Béxar) to be administered by secular clergy in what is now the southwestern United States. Until Laredo was accorded the status of villa in 1767, Sánchez, who held the title of "captain," exercised authority over both civil and military matters. During this period the fifteen leagues granted to the community were held in common. The communal system, mandated by Escandón, was intended to forestall disputes and the formation of land monopolies that would discourage immigration. Colonists, however, proved reluctant to make improvements without holding private title. In 1767 the viceroy appointed a commission to oversee the partitioning of lands in Nuevo Santander. In Laredo this commission supervised the laying out of San Agustín Plaza and the common areas of the village, as well as eighty-nine porciones, each having a river frontage of a half mile and a depth of about 15½ miles. Twenty-three of the porciones were left unassigned at that time, however, because of a lack of demand.

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Carlos E. Cuéllar | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Laredo is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Laredo is classified as a Town


Latitude: 27.55087300
Longitude: -99.48766900

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated


Population Count, 2021 View more »


Place Type Population (Year/Source) Currently Exists
College or University Yes
College or University Yes

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