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Laredo, Texas. Is the Seat of Webb County, and a port of entry on the Río Grande. It is connected to Mexico by two bridges across the Río Grande, one to Nuevo Laredo in the state of Tamaulipas and the other to the state of Nuevo Leon. Laredo is a leading commercial and tourist gateway to Mexico and serves as a trade and manufacturing center of a region in which livestock, petroleum, and natural gas are produced. Maquiladoras, twin-plant assembly organizations in which components made in the United States are assembled in Mexico and then sent back to the United States, operate in the area; they produce automobile components, electronic equipment, clothing, and plastic products. The area is served by Laredo International Airport.
Nuevo Laredo, city, northeastern Mexico, in Tamaulipas State, on the Río Grande, opposite Laredo, Texas. Connected to Laredo by the International Bridge and by rail, it is a major port of entry and a tourist center, as well as a market for cattle, cotton, grains, and sugarcane raised in the area. Industries include textile and flour milling, cotton ginning, fruit canning, sawmilling, coffee and vegetable-oil processing, and printing. The city was founded in the mid-1700s and was considered a part of Laredo until 1848, when the eastern bank of the river was ceded to the United States. Population (1990) 218,413.

The Two Bridges that cross The Rio Grande River in Laredo Texas
Laredo is noted for retaining much of the atmosphere of Spanish colonial times. The Nuevo Santander Museum Complex comprises restored buildings of Fort McIntosh, a U.S. Army camp established in 1849; a photographic collection; the Guardhouse, which contains World War I (1914-1918) memorabilia; and a science and technology museum. The Museum of the Republic of the Río Grande is housed in the building that served as the capitol of the republic. The city is the home of Texas A&M International University (1969) and a junior college. Every February since 1898 Laredo and Nuevo Laredo have marked the birthday of George Washington with a two-week fiesta.

The concrete culvert Bat Dome in Laredo Texas The Bat Dome is significant in that it went far beyond traditional engineering thinking by addressing multiple purposes including the sustainability of the environment. Collaboration of engineers and biologists resulted in an inexpensive solution to a major conservation issue. This first of its kind design modification of a typical concrete culvert not only will preserve a valuable ecological role of the bat in controlling crop damaging insects, but will provide a future model to engineers as to how conservation and engineering can be combined to provide both a practical transportation function while meeting environmental needs.
Laredo was founded in 1755 by Spaniard Tomás Sánchez, and is named for the city of Laredo in the former province of Santander, Spain. In 1840 it was the capital of the short-lived Republic of the Rio Grande. It became a frontier post in 1848, when the boundary between the United States and Mexico was established, and incorporated as a city in 1852. The city grew rapidly after being reached by rail in the 1880s. It continued to grow after the discovery nearby of petroleum in the early 1920s, and again after 1986 when Mexico joined the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and began a series of economic reforms including privatization of previously government-controlled industries. Laredo covers a land area of 84.7 sq km (32.7 sq mi), with a mean elevation of 134 m (438 ft). According to the 1990 census, whites are 71.0 percent of the population, Asians and Pacific Islanders 0.3 percent, Native Americans percent 0.2; and blacks 0.1 percent. The remainder are of mixed heritage or did not report ethnicity. Hispanics, who may be of any race, are 93.8 percent of the people. Population 91,449 (1980); 122,899 (1990); 164,899 (1996 estimate).

Captain Don Tomas Sanchez de Barrera y Gallardo, a veteran Spanish officer, crossed to the north bank of the river, locating a ford which he christened (El Paso de Jacinto), later called Indian Ford, just west of what is now downtown Laredo.

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