John W. Clark, Jr.

PLAZA DE LA NORIA SITE. The archeological excavations associated with the Plaza de la Noria (41WB19) in Laredo, also known as the Escuela Amarilla Barrio, took place in a four-block area including the plaza. The project was bounded by Santa Ursula and San Dario streets on the west and east and Hidalgo and Victoria streets on the south and north. The area included the plaza and blocks 60, 112, and 119, situated near the Rio Grande and east of San Agustín Plaza. At the time of the investigations a variety of houses still stood in the project area. These included structures dating from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries in a variety of architectural styles, including Hispanic Vernacular stone houses ranging in date from about 1845 to 1875, late Victorian houses of various styles dating from about 1875 to 1910 (mainly brick buildings), early-twentieth-century bungalows of brick and frame, Art Deco structures from the 1930s, and ranch-style houses of the 1950s. The neighborhood included dwellings of very poor families (frame shanties built between 1910 and 1920), lower-middle-class families, and upper-middle-class families who owned large houses constructed in formal architectural styles.

The archeological project took place in the spring of 1979 under the direction of John W. Clark, Jr., of the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation, Archaeology Section of the Highway Design Division. The project was part of a mitigation program to salvage information about the site that might be lost when Interstate Highway 35 was completed to the Juárez-Lincoln Bridge crossing of the international border. The cultural affiliation of the barrio from its beginning was Mexican-American. Many artifacts were collected in the excavations, including objects reflecting many major human activities. Some 193,400 items were collected, ranging from mid-nineteenth-century percussion caps to automobile parts. Among the significant artifacts were nineteenth and twentieth century Mexican majolica and utility pottery. The artifacts represent a blending of Mexican and Anglo-American cultures.

The site yielded a variety of features in addition to artifacts. Strictly architectural features included foundations as well as standing buildings. Associated features included wells, cisterns, and the foundation of a kiosk or gazebo in the plaza. Other remains included trash pits, latrine pits, and landscaping structures. There was observable some superposition of construction, in which one structure was demolished in order to make way for another on the same site. In addition to purely archeological data, the project provided historical, documentary, social, and genealogical data on the former inhabitants of the project area. Artifacts and documents relating to the project are stored at the Nuevo Santander Museum at Fort McIntosh in Laredo.

John W. Clark, Jr., and Ana Maria Juarez, Urban Archaeology: A Culture History of a Mexican-American Barrio in Laredo, Webb County, Texas (Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation Publications in Archaeology Report 31 [Austin, 1986]).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, John W. Clark, Jr., "PLAZA DE LA NORIA SITE," accessed July 19, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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