|El Paso Texas Overview
El Paso, Texas
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El Paso is the county seat of El Paso County in the U.S. state of Texas. According to the 2005 U.S. Census population estimates, the city had a population of 598,590, making it the sixth-largest city in Texas and the 21st-largest city in the United States. El Paso is second only to San Diego, California in size among all U.S. cities on the U.S.-Mexico border. Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua lies opposite of the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo del Norte) -which separates the two cities-forming a bi-national metropolitan area of 2,280,782, making it the second-largest bi-national metropolitan area on the U.S.-Mexico border. El Paso is home to The University of Texas at
El Paso (founded 1914 as The Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy, received university status 1967). Fort Bliss, a major United States Army installation, lies to the east and northeast of the city, extending north up to the White Sands Missile Range. The Franklin Mountains extend into El Paso from the north and nearly divide the city into two sections. El Paso is served by El Paso International Airport, Amtrak via the historic Union Depot, I-10, U.S. Route 54, U.S. Route 180, U.S. Route 85 and U.S. Route 62.
Archeological evidence at the Keystone Wetlands and Hueco Tanks sites indicates thousands of years of human settlement within the El Paso region. The Manso, Suma, and Jumano Indians were identified as present by the earliest Spanish explorers. These people ultimately became assimilated into the local settler population, becoming part of the Mestizo culture that is prevalent in Mexico and is visible throughout the Southwest. Others integrated themselves with the different Mescalero Apache bands that for many years roamed the region. El Paso del Norte (the present day Ciudad Juárez), was founded on the south bank of the Río Bravo del Norte, (Rio
Grande) in 1659. Being a grassland then, agriculture flourished and vineyards and fruits comprised the bulk of the regional production. The Spanish Crown and the local authorities of El Paso del Norte had made several land concessions to bring agricultural production to the northern bank of the river in present day El Paso. However, the Apaches dissuaded production and settlers to cross the river. The water provided a natural defense against them. The first successful agricultural enterprise that we have records on was Ponce de León Ranch. The land was granted in 1825. Although American traders and trappers had visited the area since 1823, American
settlers began to stay for good after the Mexican Cession in 1848. During the Texas Republic period, the area belonged to the Mexican State of Chihuahua. El Paso was never officially a part of the Republic of Texas, and only became part of Texas after Texas was admitted into the Union. A trading post called Franklin was established during this time some miles away from Ponce's Ranch. Other settlements were also scattered across the region and eventually became part of El Paso itself. Ciudad Juarez dropped the old name of El Paso del Norte and El Paso, Texas kept it. El Paso was platted in 1859, but grew very slowly due to its remoteness. During the
Civil War, Texas, along with most other Southern states, seceded from the Union to join the Confederate States of America in 1861. The Confederate cause was met with great support from El Paso residents. After the war was concluded, the town's population began to grow. With the arrival of Southern Pacific railroads in 1881, the population boomed to 10,000 by 1890 census. With a tempting green valley and a nearly perfect climate year-around, the town attracted a constant stream of newcomers: gamblers, gunfighters, thieves, cattle and horse rustlers, murderers, priests, Chinese railroad laborers, prostitutes and followed of course, entrepreneurs. The most
famous gunfight, "Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight" took place here on April 14, 1881. It was a few months before the Gunfight at the OK Corral became more famous. Dallas Stoudenmire, the sixth marshal in eight months, was hired to clean a remote, violent and wild town. Stoudenmire controlled the City Council and intimidated the town. When he learned that the City was trying to find a ground for his termination, he entered the Council Chamber. He started twirling his pistols and growled threats, "I can straddle every God-damn aldermen on this council". Out of fear, this forced the Council to call for a quick adjournment. Prostitution
and gambling flourished until World War I, when the Department of the Army pressured El Paso authorities to crack down on vice. Many of these activities continued to flourish in neighboring Ciudad Juárez, especially during the Prohibition, where bars and saloons on the Mexican side flourished. The Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) began in 1910, and Ciudad Juárez was the focus of intense fighting. Occasionally, stray shots killed civilians on the El Paso side. El Paso became a center of intrigue as various exiled leaders including Victoriano Huerta and (for a time) Pancho Villa were seen in the city. General John Joseph Pershing was stationed at
Fort Bliss, and mounted his ill fated expedition against Pancho Villa after the infamous raid on Columbus, New Mexico on March 9, 1916. The cavalry under Pershing were paid in gold, in competition with Pancho Villa, who offered $50 per machine gun. (When World War I began, Pershing's cavalry had to remain in the Army for the duration of the war, and were no longer paid in gold.) In 1934, Walter T. Varney and Louis Mueller established the passenger airline called Varney Speed Lines in El Paso and operated out of the El Paso International Airport. After the airline was taken over in 1937 by Robert Six, he relocated its headquarters to Denver, Colorado and
renamed it with the more recognized name of Continental Airlines, as it is known to this day. After World War II, Werner von Braun and other German rocket scientists were brought to Fort Bliss in El Paso, along with many of the V2 rockets and rocket parts, starting the American rocket program; they were later moved to Huntsville, Alabama. One V2 rocket is still on display at Fort Bliss. From World War II until the 1980s, El Paso boomed into a sprawling city. The expansion of Fort Bliss from a frontier post to a major Cold War military center brought in thousands of soldiers, dependents, and retirees. The industrial economy was dominated by copper smelting,
oil refining, and the proliferation of low wage industries (particularly garment making), which drew thousands of Mexican immigrants. New housing subdivisions were built, expanding El Paso far to the west, northeast and east of its original core areas. In 1963, the U.S. agreed to cede a long-disputed part of El Paso to Mexico due to changes in the course of the Rio Grande, which forms the international boundary between the two countries. The area boundaries were rationalized and the Rio Grande was re-channelled. A former island in the river was re-developed. The Chamizal National Memorial, administered by the National Park Service is now a major park in El
Paso; El Chamizal is the corresponding park in Juárez. Since 1990, the local economy has been adversely affected by competition with low wage labor abroad, and the closure of the main copper smelter due to fluctuant metal prices, and excessive lead contamination found throughout many of the surrounding areas. The passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement has been a mixed blessing, with local transport, retail, and service firms expanding, but with the accelerated loss of many industrial jobs. El Paso is very sensitive to changes in the Mexican economy and the regulation of cross border traffic; the Mexican peso devaluation of late 1994 and
the temporary closing of the ports of entry and subsequent stringent controls of cross border traffic after the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack were felt strongly in El Paso. Since the 1849 establishment of Fort Bliss in the El Paso area, El Paso has seen a boom in population. More recently, the BRAC commission has marked the base to receive more the 18,000 troops, which is estimated to add 547 million dollars to the El Paso economy. El Paso is also home to the El Paso International Airport and a high school dedicated to Captain John L. Chapin. Recent city-wide projects funded through the election of bonds have once again started the urban sprawl onward
for El Paso. The most prominent of these projects was the complete refurbishment of the Plaza Theater in Downtown El Paso. The project was completed on March 17, 2006 at a cost of $38 Million.
The city's elevation is 3,800 feet (1140 m) above sea level. The rustic and reddish North Franklin Peak towers at 7,192 feet above sea level and is the highest peak in the city which can be seen from the distance of roughly 60 miles from all directions.
The Franklin Mountains extend into El Paso from the north and neatly divide the city into several sections, along with Fort Bliss and the El Paso International Airport:
The Rio Grande Rift, which passes around the southern end of the Franklin Mountains, is where the Rio Grande River flows. The river defines the border between El Paso from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to the south and west until it river passes north of the border with Mexico where it then separates El Paso from Doña Ana County, New Mexico. An extinct volcano, Mt. Cristo Rey rises within the Rio Grande Rift just to the west of El Paso on the New Mexico side of the Rio Grande River. Other volcanic features include Kilbourne hole and Hunt's hole, which are Maar volcanic craters 30 miles (50 km) west of the Franklin Mountains.
El Paso is surrounded by the Chihuahuan Desert, the easternmost section of the Basin and Range Region.
Temperatures average from an average high of 56°F (13°C) and an average low of 29°F (?2°C) in January to an average high of 96F (36 C [more than 100 F is possible]) and an average low of 68°F (20 C) in August.
The city's record high is 114 F (45.5 C), and its record low is ?8 F (?22 C). The sun shines 302 days per year on average in El Paso, 83 percent of daylight hours, according to the El Paso Weather Bureau. It is from this that the city is nicknamed, The Sun City. Rainfall averages 8.74 inches (223 mm) per annum, most of which occurs during the summer monsoonal season that typically starts in July and usually ends in mid-September. During this period, winds originate more from the south to southeast direction and carry moisture from the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico into the region. As this moisture moves into the El Paso
area (and many other areas in the southwest), a combination of orographic uplift from the mountains, and daytime heating from the sun, causes thunderstorms to develop across the region. This is what causes most of the rain in the El Paso area.
Points of interest
The Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens
The El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center
The El Paso Museum of Archaeology at Wilderness Park
The El Paso Museum of Art
The El Paso Museum of History
Fort Bliss Museums & Study Center
Insights El Paso Science Museum
Magoffin Home State Historic Site
The National Border Patrol Museum
Railroad & Transportation Museum of El Paso
War Eagles Air Museum
Gene Roddenberry Planetarium
Sites within the city limits
Chamizal National Memorial
The El Paso Zoo
Franklin Mountains State Park
The Plaza Theatre
University of Texas at El Paso
Sites within the surrounding area
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Hueco Tanks State Park
Lincoln National Forest
Maar volcanic craters