Laredo, a blend of Spanish, Mexican, and American frontier influences, grew as a post on the road to San Antonio and other Texas cities. After the Texas Revolution its ownership remained in doubt until the southern boundary of Texas was established by the Mexican War; during that period the city was the capital of the "Republic of the Rio Grande" (the capitol building, erected in 1755, still stands). Laredo's growth was aided by the arrival of the railroads (1880s), the development of irrigated farming, the discovery of oil and natural gas, and the opening (1936) of a highway to Mexico City. The former army post Fort McIntosh was founded in 1849 and intermittently rebuilt and used until 1946; Texas A&M International Univ. is now on the grounds. Laredo Community College is also there.
City (pop., 2000: 176,576), southern Texas, U.S. Located on the Rio Grande opposite Nuevo Laredo, Mex., it was established in 1755 by the Spanish and was named for Laredo, Spain. After the Texas revolt against Mexican rule in 1836, it became the seat of the Republic of the Rio Grande (1839–41). Occupied by the Texas Rangers in 1846, it was incorporated as a city in 1852. A rapidly growing city, its manufacturing includes electronic components and oil refining.
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There were 113 households out of which 23.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.6% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. 37.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 23.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.88.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 5.6% from 18 to 24, 24.4% from 25 to 44, 24.4% from 45 to 64, and 20.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 98.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $20,536, and the median income for a family was $29,688. Males had a median income of $23,828 versus $16,250 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,451. About 13.4% of families and 19.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 42.2% of those under the age of eighteen and 9.5% of those sixty five or over.