Introduction to Laredo, Texas
The Texas city of Laredo, county seat of Webb County, is situated on the north bank of the Rio Grande about 135 miles west of Corpus Christi and about 150 miles southwest of San Antonio. Positioned at the southern end of Interstate I-35, Laredo is seated on the Rio Grande River at the Mexican border. Along with the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo across the river, it is part of "Los Dos Laredos"; one of the largest inland port areas in both the US and Mexico. Other major highways servicing Laredo include U.S. Routes 59 and 83; and Texas State Highways 255 and 359.
First established in 1755, Laredo grew from a small villa to the onetime capital of the defunct Republic of the Rio Grande. During and after the Texas Revolution, many residents of Laredo continued to consider themselves citizens of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, and when Laredo became the county seat for newly established Webb County in 1848, the establishment of the Rio Grande as the international boundary divided the town, many of whose residents had homes and ranchos on the other side of the border. A number of families who did not wish to live under the American flag chose to move across the river to what became the Mexican village of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. Incorporated in 1852, Laredo continued to grow during the latter part of the 19th century, stimulated by the railroads and nearby coal mining. The Laredo economy was further boosted by rich oil and gas finds in the area during the early 1900s. By the early 1990s, the city had become one of the Texas' most active centers for import and export trade with Mexico. The passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) cemented Laredo's position at the forefront of social and economic activity along the border.
Laredo Arts, Culture, and Entertainment
The Republic of the Rio Grande Capitol Building Museum chronicles the history of the short lived republic and is housed in the building which actually served as the republic's Capitol building. The Laredo Center for the Arts, located in historic downtown Laredo, houses three galleries displaying regional artwork and offers community activities for children and adults. The Imaginarium of South Texas, formerly known as Laredo Children's Museum, provides a hands-on educational experience for kids in science, technology, and art. The Laredo Entertainment Center is a state-of-the-art multipurpose facility bringing family-oriented entertainment to the region. Included in its attractions are major concerts, sporting events, ice shows, and conventions. Annual festivals in Laredo include the Washington's Birthday Celebration, an almost month long held event that features a Jalapeño Eating Contest. The Laredo Birding and Butterfly Festival, a 3-day February event, offers both beginning and experienced birders access to one of the last great frontiers in birding.
Laredo is home to four professional sports teams. The Laredo Bucks hockey team competes in the Central Hockey League (CHL) and plays its home games at the Laredo Entertainment Center. Another resident of the Laredo Entertainment Center is the Laredo Lobos, an Arena Football 2 (af2) team founded in 2006. The Laredo Heat is a soccer team playing in the United Soccer League's Premier Development League (PDL). Baseball fans can root for the Laredo Broncos, an independent minor league pro team playing in the United Baseball League (UBL).