Laredo’s position on the border truly makes it a nexus of two cultures, Mexican and Texan, and if you reach into its history, you’ll find plenty of Old World Spanish culture too.
Like San Antonio, the layout of Laredo and other early towns was dictated by the Spanish Crown through a set of very specific 1593 rules called “The Law of the Indies.” What we may regard as the very definition of Mexican town-planning — the open town square — really has its roots in Spain. Even the placement of specific buildings on the square was dictated from the other side of the Atlantic — the location of the church, government buildings, and housing lots for important families.
As you visit other old towns on both sides of the border, you’ll begin to notice the lingering impact of 16th century Spain.
Most Texans know the story of the Texas Revolution, but they may not know that other parts of Mexico also made a run at independence during the 19th century. Inspired by Texas’ example, three of Mexico’s most northern states attempted to secede and create their own country to be called the Republic of the Rio Grande.
However, public support at the time was limited and an armed revolution never materialized, which made the entire affair a footnote in history.
Laredo was to have been the capitol of this breakaway republic and remains a town balanced between two cultures.
As you explore Laredo’s downtown, the city’s fabric feels decidedly Old World. This is partially due to its scale. The size of the blocks and the widths of the streets are smaller than in other towns in the state — but it also has to do with the number of parks and plazas that organize its central business district as well as the architectural character of the buildings that line the fabled “Streets of Laredo.”