< Last Photo   << Last Chapter                Notes on the Geography of Places: The Western United States: Laredo         Next Chapter >>   Next Photo > 
 

Notes on the Geography of The Western United States: Laredo

Location, location, location! It's not just about where to put your store; it's also about where to put your city. Laredo, Texas, is a good example of a place that wouldn't exist except for its location, location, location.

Make default image size larger

The Western United States: Laredo picture 1

We're 150 miles southwest of San Antonio.  Mesquite and prickly pear: a shrub savanna with about 16 inches of rain annually.  That sounds tolerable, but the mercury exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit more than 120 days a year and potential evaporation exceeds 100 inches.  The weeds, beneficiary of urban runoff (actually a Wal-Mart parking lot), are misleadingly green.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 2

There is one modest resource: the not-so-grand Rio Grande, which (as the flag hints) marks the international border between Mexico and the United States. 

The Western United States: Laredo picture 3

It's that border that makes Laredo.  The bridge is International Bridge No. 2; the parking lot is now closed but once was for truck customs. An older bridge--two lanes--is behind the camera a hundred yards or so.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 4

Still farther upstream, there's an active railway bridge, with X-ray sensors to detect anyone trying to walk across.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 5

No matter: the river isn't fenced or fortified.  You can march right down and across, inhibited only by the Border Patrol.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 6

See the figure splashing behind the stalks of grass in the center foreground?  He said he was fishing.  Translation: he'll cross as soon as the border-patrol officer goes away.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 7

Laredo's not his destination.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 8

Another bus station.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 9

Still another.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 10

Freight to move?  No problem: here's a terminal on the American side.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 11

Burger and fries? Not here.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 12

The city itself is roughly divisible in two halves.  The older one is a grid that runs about 40 blocks north-south and perhaps 50 east-west.  It all starts at the San Agustin Plaza and Cathedral, very close to the river.  Settlement began here in 1755.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 13

Across the river, in Nuevo Laredo, the plaza has a twin. The two cities were separated in 1848.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 14

Both cater to plenty of tourists, but the Laredo plaza explicitly welcomes visitors.  Two blocks north, an old market has been converted to a Center for the Arts.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 15

The downtown has its relics of a prosperous past.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 16

The former Hamilton Hotel, 1923, is now on the register of historic places.  With extensive federal help, it opened again in 2000 as affordable housing for senior citizens.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 17

Decorative details on the facade.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 18

Despite these efforts, most of the downtown commercial grid is both low-rise and low-rent.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 19

More of the same.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 20

Housing exhibits the usual range.  Here's the lower end.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 21

The plantation-style upper end.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 22

Away from the core, commercial development in the older half of the town is weighted to people on the move.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 23

A motel along U.S. 83, the old highway.  Most road traffic now comes to Laredo over Interstate 35, which ends here after its long run south from Duluth and feeds directly into International Bridge No. 2.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 24

The newer half of Laredo begins near the city's airport, at the northeast corner of the grid.  The runway layout is disproportionately large for a city of 200,000 people, but there's a reason:  between 1942 and 1974 it belonged to Laredo A.F.B.  You can tell as much from the old base housing, like these duplexes.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 25

Another former on-base duplex.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 26

Farther north, the grid vanishes, and there are plenty of surprisingly expensive houses.  Here's the elaborate entrance to a subdivision out by the country club.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 27

Inside, a Missionesque fantasy.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 28

A hint of the Mayan.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 29

Some generic Italianate.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 30

Square footage under tile.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 31

Where did the roof go?

The Western United States: Laredo picture 32

Nearby, a new medical center is loaded with instant heritage.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 33

The city's public library has moved north.  There's a regional shopping center nearby: MDM, or Mall Del Norte.

The Western United States: Laredo picture 34

Laredo's apical meristem. Between 1990 and 2000, metro Laredo grew from 134,000 to 193,000 people--the fastest growth rate of any of Texas' largest 15 cities.  By 2020 it's projected to have 400,000. 


www.greatmirror.com Web   
 

* Australia * Austria * Bangladesh * Belgium * Botswana * Brazil * Burma / Myanmar * Cambodia (Angkor) * Canada (B.C.) * China * The Czech Republic * Egypt * Fiji * France * Germany * Ghana * Greece * Hungary * India: Themes * Northern India * Peninsular India * Indonesia * Israel * Italy * Japan * Jerusalem * Jordan * Kenya * Laos * Kosovo * Malawi * Malaysia * Mauritius * Mexico * Morocco * Mozambique * Namibia * The Netherlands * New Zealand * Nigeria * Norway * Oman * Pakistan * The Philippines * Poland * Portugal * Senegal * Singapore * South Africa * Spain * Sri Lanka * Sudan * Syria (Aleppo) * Tanzania * Thailand * Trinidad * Turkey (Istanbul) * Uganda * The U.A.E. (Dubai) * The United Kingdom * The Eastern United States * The Western United States * Oklahoma * Uzbekistan * Vietnam * The West Bank * Yemen * Zambia * Zimbabwe *
go back to previous picture go to next chapter go to next picture go to previous chapter page