A Brief History of Laredo, TX
Laredo, TX is by no means a small town, however very few would ever guess that this city started as a tiny villa on the northern end of the Rio Grande. Now, it is the 10th largest city in the state of Texas and 3rd largest on the US-Mexico border and is home to the Texas A&M International University. This town has a rich history that stretches back to the colonial days. Originally named San Agustin de Laredo in 1755, it is considered Texas’ oldest independent settlement and the only Spanish colonial settlement on this side of the lower banks of the Rio Grande.
The Founders of Laredo, TX
Captain Tomas Sanchez and three other families were given the rights to the land May 15th of 1755 and used it to run a ranch. Twelve years later the city layout was put in place and ranching became the main source of income for the growing economy. Later, this town became an important frontier outpost for the classic Texas cowboy during the Spanish-Mexican era of its history. The town’s reputation as a frontier town is depicted in old western movies like Streets of Laredo and Gunmen from Laredo.
Laredo Switching Hands
Beginning its life as a Spanish settlement in 1755, when Mexico won its independence from the Spanish in the early 1800s, Laredo officially became a Mexican City in 1821. By this time the town had developed a trading economy where goods were shipped south. Due to political differences, areas along the Rio Grande decided to depart from Mexico, the city was the capital of the rogue nation known as The Republic of the Rio Grande. Mexico used the full force of its military to bring the city back under its control in 1840. However, Mexico didn’t keep this town for long. When Mexico lost the war for Texas to the US, under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Laredo and the land north of the Rio Grande became a part of the United States in 1848. Though many changes have occurred over the past few centuries, the Spanish influences that established this city can still be seen peppered throughout its city center.
From Then to Now
From its humble beginnings as a ranch to its new reputation as a bustling city, this transformation is due largely to the introduction of the railroad to the city in 1881. Laredo and Nuevo Laredo (Laredo’s brother city south of the US-Mexican border) established a free trade zone and as a result, the city became a major passthrough for the goods being shipped back and forth over the border. This was also fueled by the fact that coal mines were found not too far from the city, allowing trains a chance to refuel there as well. That, plus the expansion of Ft. McIntosh caused the city’s population to triple within a decade. From the center villa, the city expanded outward and has grown and developed into the chief gateway city for the US and Mexico.
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