10 Things You Didn't Know About Laredo
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10 Things You Didn't Know About Laredo

Laredo offers plenty of history you might not know about the city. Like how Laredo is the largest inland port in the U.S., or every year the city holds a month-long event that celebrates George Washington's Birthday, Washington's Birthday Celebration. But what about other little-known facts the city holds? Did you know Laredo is the only city in Texas to fly under seven flags, and not the traditional six, or Casa Ortiz is more than a beautiful and historic home with gorgeous views of Mexico and the Rio Grande; it’s also the oldest continuously used residence in Texas?

Learn more about the hidden history gems in Laredo, Texas, a destination rich in both culture and history.

Casa Ortiz's Kitchen 
1. Laredo is home to the oldest continuously used residence in the state of Texas: Casa Ortiz Completed in 1830, Casa Ortiz is cherished as a part of the Historical Center of Laredo and was recorded as a Texas Historical Landmark in 1964. The home itself has quite an interesting history. It’s been a resting place for friends and family and a place for political meetings. It’s also believed to have been at the center of gun fights with Native Americans, and at one time was a refuge for Catholic clergy. Tours are free to the public who are interested in seeing and learning more about this remarkable building and its deep history firsthand. The home is also rumored to have buried gold on the property.
Casa Ortiz  

2 Laredo was known as the Republic of the Rio Grande

Founded in 1755, Laredo was its own independent country together with three Mexican states for a short period of time in 1840. Laredo eventually grew from a small village into the capital city of the independent Republic of the Rio Grande. Eventually joining again with Mexico, Laredo was signed over to the United States after the Mexican-American War in 1848. Boycotting the move into the United States, Mexican residents moved across the Rio Grande back into Mexican territory, founding Nuevo Laredo—the new town.

3. Laredo is the only city in Texas to fly under seven flags

While most Texans know about the six flags that fly over Texas, representing the six countries that had sovereignty over all or parts of the state at any given time, Laredo is the only city to have seven. Why seven? The seventh flag, joined with the other six representing Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America, represents the short-lived Republic of the Rio Grande.

4. The Border Olympics Men's Collegiate Golf Tournament is the longest running golf tournament in the nation

A gathering of student athletes representing universities, colleges and even high schools throughout Texas (and today also includes athletes from surrounding U.S. states), as well as Mexico, the Border Olympics are a big deal in Laredo. Started in 1932 as a track and field meet only, it eventually grew to include sports like golf, basketball, baseball, softball, tennis, soccer and most recently, volleyball. The Border Olympics continues to be an annual event that coincides with the Texas Independence Day.

5. Laredo was the first city in the U.S. to have sightings of three types of kingfishers.

The ultimate kingfisher sighting was the elusive Amazon kingfisher, which was first spotted at Zacate Creek in 2010. The sighting caused quite a stir—nearly 1,000 birders came out to spot (and snap) the little beauty within 10 days of the sighting. The Laredo Birding Festival continues to celebrate the array of wildlife (and birds like the Kingfisher) unique to this area.

Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course Photo by Dave Sansom 

6. The Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course is ranked among the top 50 municipal golf courses in the U.S.

With rolling greens that sit along the banks of the Rio Grande, this par-72 course spans across a beautiful 270 acres. Designed by architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., a two-story 9,000-sq.ft. clubhouse and pro shop complete this golfer’s oasis. Built with every level of player in mind, the course has five sets of tees, ranging from 4,759 to 7,297 yards, and can be played in loops of three, six, nine or 18 holes. The course is the first city-owned course in the city, and is more than just a golf course. It’s a picture-perfect setting for events of all types, even weddings.

Carne Ranchera at Los Jacales Restaurant 

7. Experience REAL Mexican food in Laredo.

Real, authentic Mexican cuisine made the way it should be—with care, tradition and local ingredients—is what you can expect in Laredo. With the city neighboring Mexico and the traditions in the area running strong, this is the real deal. With kekas (an empanada meets a quesadilla), mole, chile relleno, pozole and more authentic food served here, you really can’t go wrong, no matter what, or where you order.

8. Laredo has a digital planetarium, Lamar Bruni Vergara Planetarium

Opened in 2005, the planetarium is a sight to see with its four-sided glass pyramid that houses the 40-ft. dome of the planetarium inside. The dome creates a fully immersive and out of this world (quite literally) experience really unlike anything else. The planetarium is found at Texas A&M International University, and the best part about a visit here is the planetarium can show the view from any part of the known universe. With two to three shows a day, as well as concerts, kids shows, and special events, the planetarium always has something new to discover. Both students and the public are invited inside to see what the planetarium is all about.

9. A newly opened interactive water museum, Laredo Water Museum

Located inside the Jefferson Water Treatment Plant, the museum aims to teach kids and parents about water conservation and how water systems work in an interactive way. The museum is free to visit, and the knowledge on how to save and conserve our planet’s most precious resource is invaluable.

10. Downtown Laredo’s street names running east to west are named after American and Mexican generals, and the names alternate

Yes, it’s true. When locals say the “Streets of Laredo,” they aren’t referring to the 1949 western film starring William Holden, or the western novel by Larry McMurtry or the song written by Frank H. Maynard, they’re talking about the actual names of the streets. Now you won’t be able to help it, but notice the names as you drive through downtown.

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