Laredo (/ləˈreɪdoʊ/ lə-RAY-doh; Spanish: [laˈɾeðo]) is the county seat of Webb County, Texas, United States, located on the north bank of the Rio Grande in South Texas, across from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. According to the 2010 census, the city population was 236,091, making it the tenth-most populous city in the state of Texas and third-most populated on the Mexico–United States border, after San Diego, California, and El Paso, Texas. Its metropolitan area is the 178th-largest in the U.S. and includes all of Webb County, with a population of 250,304. Laredo is also part of the cross-border Laredo-Nuevo Laredo Metropolitan Area with an estimated population of 636,516.
Because Laredo is 95.6 percent Hispanic and Latino, it is one of the least ethnically diverse cities in the United States. When economic diversity, household diversity, and social class diversity are considered, Laredo is rated the 19th least diverse city overall out of the 313 largest cities in the nation.
The European colonial settlement of Villa de San Agustin de Laredo was founded in 1755 by Don Tomás Sánchez while the area was part of the Nuevo Santander region in the Spanish colony of New Spain. Villa de San Agustin de Laredo was named after Laredo, Cantabria, Spain and in honor of Saint Augustine of Hippo. In 1840, Laredo was the capital of the independent Republic of the Rio Grande, set up in opposition to Antonio López de Santa Anna; it was brought back into Mexico by military force.
In 1846 during the Mexican–American War, the town was occupied by the Texas Rangers. After the war, the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ceded the land to the United States. A referendum was taken in the town, which voted to petition the American military government in charge of the area to return the town to Mexico. When this petition was rejected, most of the population, who were Tejano and had been in the area for generations, moved across the river into Mexican territory, where they founded Nuevo Laredo. In 1849, the United States Army set up Fort McIntosh (originally Camp Crawford). Laredo was rechartered as a city in 1852.
Laredo is one of the oldest crossing points along the Mexico–United States border, and the nation's largest inland port of entry. In 2005, Laredo celebrated the 250th anniversary of its founding.
The origin of name of the original Spanish town of Laredo is unclear. Some scholars say the name stems from Glaretum which means "sandy, rocky place". Others state that Laredo stems from a Basque word meaning "beautiful pastures". Laredo might also stem from the Latin Larida which means gull.
More than 47 percent of United States international trade headed for Mexico and more than 36 percent of Mexican international trade crosses through the Laredo port of entry. Laredo's economy revolves around commercial and industrial warehousing, import, and export. As a major player in international trade, the Laredo area benefited from passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has encouraged trade. The Laredo port of entry consists of four international bridges (with a proposed fifth one) crossing the Rio Grande into the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo León.
Other Catholic churches of note include Blessed Sacrament and Christ the King, both in the Heights neighborhood, St. John Neumann Church at Hillside Road and Springfield Avenue, San Martin de Porres at 1704 Sandman Street near the municipal water tower, and the large St. Patrick Catholic Church on Del Mar Boulevard, founded in 1970 and renovated in 2009. The Catholic diocese office, the headquarters of Bishop James Tamayo, is located on Corpus Christi Street north of Guadalupe Street. San Luis Rey Catholic Church at the intersection of Sanders and San Jose opened on September 16, 1951. Outside is a flowered prayer shrine. The congregation of the Church of the Redeemer, at the intersection of Main and Garcia streets downtown, observed its centennial on August 29, 2009. Its building is another work by Leo M.J. Dielmann.
Both the First United Methodist Church, in 1949, and the Christ Church Episcopal, were designed by Henry Steinbomer, a popular and prolific San Antonio architect who is credited with more than 100 churches and related buildings during the 1940s and 50s, from the Lower Rio Grande Valley mostly in South and West Texas, from the Sacred Heart Cathedral in San Angelo to Union Church in Monterrey, Mexico.
Other Laredo churches include Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Assembly of God, Mormon, and non-denominational congregations as well.
The homeless and other indigent are served downtown through Bethany House, established in 1982 by Roman Catholic priest Father Charles M. McNaboe (1929–1996).
The original Shirley Field was located next to the Civic Center and R&T Martin High School on San Bernardo Avenue. It was built in 1937, along with Martin High School. Shirley Field was the location for outdoor athletics for Laredo Independent School District and also hosts the annual Border Olympics events. It seats up to about 6,000 fans with additional seating at the 2 endzones. Professional Mexican soccer teams have played various exhibition games here, noting that the real grass allows for "better" soccer games. The various sports played on the stadium are football, soccer and track & field events. Major renovations are slated for this historic stadium. In November 2009 Shirley Field was demolished and was rebuilt by the 2011 football season. The total cost of the reconstruction was $12,000,000 and it now seats 8,000 fans and features artificial turf.
The Laredo Community College is a two-campus institution which offers two-year Associate's degrees. The main campus is located at the western end of downtown Laredo near the Rio Grande, on the site of the former Fort McIntosh. This fort played a major role in the development of Laredo, as it served to protect the community from Indian raids in its early history. Several of the old buildings at the fort were converted into classrooms, but after renovation programs nearly all of the campus structures are now modern. The smaller, newer second campus, Laredo Community College South Campus, is located in south Laredo along U. S. Route 83.
Texas A&M International University Library
The Texas A&M International University is a 4/6 year university that offers bachelor's and master's degrees. On April 22, 2004, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in Austin, Texas provided its approval for Texas A&M International University to grant its first Ph.D. in International Business Administration. TAMIU's College of Business Administration has been named an outstanding business school in The Princeton Review's "Best 282 Business Schools", 2007 Edition, and ranked third in the nation for the category: "Greatest Opportunity for Minority Students." The university's campus is located in Northeast Laredo along Loop 20. The university was once an extension of Texas A&I-Kingsville and later the former Laredo State University. Prior to its current location along Bob Bullock Loop 20, the university was housed with the Laredo Community College downtown campus.
The University of Texas Health Science Center campus is located in East Laredo near U.S. Highway 59 and the Laredo Medical Center. The campus is an extension university from UTHSC in San Antonio, Texas. The university offers doctoral degrees in the medical and dental fields.