El Paso, Texas

"El Paso" redirects here. For other uses, see El Paso (disambiguation).
El Paso, Texas
City of El Paso


Nickname(s): The Sun City,[1] El Chuco[2]

Location in El Paso County and the state of Texas
Map of USA
El Paso

Location in the United States of America

Coordinates: 31°47′25″N 106°25′24″W / 31.79028°N 106.42333°W / 31.79028; -106.42333Coordinates: 31°47′25″N 106°25′24″W / 31.79028°N 106.42333°W / 31.79028; -106.42333
Country  United States of America
State Texas Texas
County El Paso
Metropolitan Area El Paso
Founded 1680
Incorporated 1873
  Type Council–manager
  City Council Mayor Oscar Leeser
Peter Svarzbein
Jim Tolbert
Emma Acosta
Carl L. Robinson
Dr. Michiel Noe
Claudia Ordaz
Lily Limon
Cortney Niland
  City manager Tommy Gonzalez
  City 256.3 sq mi (663.7 km2)
  Land 255.3 sq mi (661.1 km2)
  Water 1.0 sq mi (2.6 km2)
Elevation 3,740 ft (1,140 m)
Population (2010)[3] 649,133
  Estimate (2015)[4] 681,124 (US: 20th)
  Metro 838,972 (US: 68th)
  CSA 1,053,267(US: 58th)
Demonym(s) El Pasoan
Time zone MST (UTC-7)
  Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP codes 79900-79999,
88500-88599 (PO Boxes)
Area code(s) 915, 575
FIPS code 48-24000
GNIS feature ID


Primary Airport El Paso International Airport
ELP (Major/International)
Secondary Airport Biggs Army Airfield-
Website www.elpasotexas.gov

El Paso (/ɛl ˈpæs/ ell PASS-oh; from Spanish, "the pass") is the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States. The city is situated in the far western corner of the state of Texas.

El Paso stands on the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte) across the border from Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. The two cities, along with Las Cruces (in the neighboring state of New Mexico), form a combined international metropolitan area, sometimes referred as the Paso del Norte or El Paso–Juárez–Las Cruces. The region of over 2.7 million people constitutes the largest bilingual, binational work force in the western hemisphere.[6][7]

The city is the headquarters of one Fortune 500 and three publicly traded companies,[8] as well as home to the Medical Center of the Americas,[9] the only medical research and care provider complex in West Texas and southern New Mexico,[10] and the University of Texas at El Paso, the city's primary university. The city hosts the annual Sun Bowl college football post-season game, the second oldest bowl game in the country.[11]

El Paso has a strong federal and military presence. William Beaumont Army Medical Center, Biggs Army Airfield, and Fort Bliss call the city home. Fort Bliss is one of the largest military complexes of the United States Army and the largest training area in the United States.[12] Also headquartered in El Paso are the DEA domestic field division 7, El Paso Intelligence Center, Joint Task Force North, U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector, and U.S. Border Patrol Special Operations Group (SOG).

In 2010, El Paso received an All-America City Award. El Paso has been ranked the safest large city in the U.S. for four consecutive years[13] and ranked in the top three since 1997.[14] As of July 1, 2015, the population estimate from the U.S. Census was 681,124, making it the 20th most populous city proper in the United States (ahead of Boston and Atlanta).[3] Its U.S. metropolitan area covers all of El Paso and Hudspeth counties, with a population of 838,972.[3] The El Paso MSA forms part of the larger El Paso–Las Cruces CSA, with a population of 1,053,267.[3]


The El Paso region has had human settlement for thousands of years, as evidenced by Folsom points from hunter-gatherers found at Hueco Tanks.[15] The earliest known cultures in the region were maize farmers. At the time of the arrival of the Spanish, the Manso, Suma, and Jumano tribes populated the area and were subsequently incorporated into the Mestizo culture, along with immigrants from central Mexico, captives from Comanchería, and genízaros of various ethnic groups. The Mescalero Apache were also present.

Ysleta Mission, constructed in 1680 by the Spanish

Spanish explorer Don Juan de Oñate was born in 1550 in Zacatecas, Zacatecas, Mexico and was the first New Spain (Mexico) explorer known to have observed the Rio Grande near El Paso, in 1598,[16] celebrating a Thanksgiving Mass there on April 30, 1598 (decades before the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving). However, the four survivors of the Narváez expedition, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Alonso del Castillo Maldonado, Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, and his enslaved Moor Estevanico, are thought to have passed through the area in the mid-1530s.[17] El Paso del Norte (the present day Juárez), was founded on the south bank of the Río Bravo del Norte (Rio Grande), in 1659 by Fray Garcia de San Francisco. In 1680, the small village of El Paso became the temporary base for Spanish governance of the territory of New Mexico as a result of the Pueblo Revolt, until 1692 when Santa Fe was reconquered and once again became the capital. El Paso remained the largest settlement in New Mexico until its cession to the US in 1848, when Texas took possession of it with the Compromise of 1850.

The Texas Revolution (1836) was generally not felt in the region, as the American population was small; not being more than 10% of the population. However, the region was claimed by Texas as part of the treaty signed with Mexico and numerous attempts were made by Texas to bolster these claims. However, the village which consisted of El Paso and the surrounding area remained essentially a self-governed community with both representatives of the Mexican and Texan government negotiating for control until Texas irrevocably took control in 1846.

Map of the city in 1886

During this interregnum, 1836–1848, Americans nonetheless continued to settle the region. As early as the mid-1840s, alongside long extant Hispanic settlements such as the Rancho de Juan María Ponce de León, Anglo settlers such as Simeon Hart and Hugh Stephenson had established thriving communities of American settlers owing allegiance to Texas. Stephenson, who had married into the local Hispanic aristocracy, established the Rancho de San José de la Concordia, which became the nucleus of Anglo and Hispanic settlement within the limits of modern-day El Paso, in 1844. Given the reclamations of the Texas Republic that wanted a chunk of the Santa Fe trade, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo effectively made the settlements on the north bank of the river a formal American settlement, separate from Old El Paso del Norte on the Mexican side.[18] The present Texas–New Mexico boundary placing El Paso on the Texas side was drawn in the Compromise of 1850.

El Paso County was established in March 1850, with San Elizario as the first county seat. The United States Senate fixed a boundary between Texas and New Mexico at the 32nd parallel, thus largely ignoring history and topography. A military post called "The Post opposite El Paso" (meaning opposite El Paso del Norte, across the Rio Grande) was established in 1854. Further west, a settlement on Coons' Rancho called Franklin became the nucleus of the future El Paso, Texas. A year later, pioneer Anson Mills completed his plan of the town, calling it El Paso. However, the various communities never totalled more than several hundred residents with Hispanics and Americans holding an equal percentage of the population.[19]

During the Civil War, a Confederate presence was in the area until it was captured by the Union California Column in 1862. It was then headquarters for the 5th Regiment California Volunteer Infantry until December 1864.[20]

El Paso circa 1880

After the Civil War's conclusion, the town's population began to grow as Texans continued to move into the villages and soon became the majority. El Paso itself, incorporated in 1873, encompassed the small area communities that had developed along the river. In the 1870s, a population of 23 Non-Hispanic whites and 150 Hispanics was reported.[21] With the arrival of the Southern Pacific, Texas and Pacific and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroads in 1881, the population boomed to 10,000 by the 1890 census, with many Anglo-Americans, recent immigrants, old Hispanic settlers, and recent arrivals from Mexico. The location of El Paso as well as the arrival of these more wild newcomers caused the city to become a violent and wild boomtown known as the "Six Shooter Capital" because of its lawlessness.[19] Indeed, prostitution and gambling flourished until World War I, when the Department of the Army pressured El Paso authorities to crack down on vice (thus benefitting vice in neighboring Ciudad Juárez). With the suppression of the vice trade and in consideration of the city's geographic position, the city continued into developing as a premier manufacturing, transportation, and retail center of the US Southwest.

St. Louis Street, El Paso, Texas (postcard, circa 1908)

In 1909, William Howard Taft and Porfirio Díaz planned a summit in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, an historic first meeting between a U.S. president and a Mexican president and also the first time an American president would cross the border into Mexico[22] But tensions rose on both sides of the border, including threats of assassination, so the Texas Rangers, 4,000 U.S. and Mexican troops, U.S. Secret Service agents, FBI agents and U.S. marshals were all called in to provide security.[23] Frederick Russell Burnham, the celebrated scout, was put in charge of a 250 private security detail hired by John Hays Hammond, who in addition to owning large investments in Mexico was a close friend of Taft from Yale and a U.S. Vice-Presidential candidate in 1908.[24][25] On October 16, the day of the summit, Burnham and Private C.R. Moore, a Texas Ranger, discovered a man holding a concealed palm pistol standing at the El Paso Chamber of Commerce building along the procession route.[26][27] Burnham and Moore captured, disarmed, and arrested the assassin within only a few feet of Taft and Díaz.[28][29]

By 1910, the overwhelming number of people in the city were Americans creating a settled environment. However, this period was short lived as the Mexican Revolution greatly impacted the city, bringing an influx of refugees – and capital – to the bustling boom town. Spanish-language newspapers, theaters, movie houses, and schools were established, many supported by a thriving Mexican refugee middle class. Large numbers of clerics, intellectuals, and businessmen took refuge in the city, particularly between 1913 and 1915.

Mesa Avenue, the heart of El Paso, Texas (postcard, circa 1917)

Ultimately, the violence of the Mexican Revolution followed with the large Mexican diaspora which had fled into El Paso. In 1915 and again in 1916 and 1917 various Mexican revolutionary societies planned, staged, and launched violent attacks against both Texans and their political Mexican opponents in El Paso. This state of affairs eventually led to the vast Plan de San Diego which resulted in the murder of 21 white citizens.[30] The subsequent reprisals by local militia soon caused an escalation of violence, wherein it is estimated that approximately 300 Mexicans and Mexican-Americans lost their lives. These actions affected almost every resident of the entire lower Rio Grande Valley, resulting in millions of dollars of losses; the end result of the Plan of San Diego was long-standing enmity between the two racial groups.[30]

Simultaneously, other Texans and Americans gravitated to the city and by 1920, along with the US Army troops, the population exceeded 100,000 and whites once again were in the clear majority. Nonetheless, the city increased the segregation between Mexicans and Mexican-Americans with Americans. In reply, the Catholic Church attempted to garner the Mexican-American community's allegiance through education and political and civic involvement organizations, including the National Catholic Welfare Fund.[31] In 1916, the Census Bureau reported El Paso's population as 53% Mexican and 44% white.[32]

General Pershing's punitive expedition camp near the border, El Paso, Texas (postcard, circa 1916): Franklin Mountains, left-to-right (i.e., south-to-north) are: Ranger Peak, Sugarloaf Mountain, and part of South Franklin Mountain

Mining and other industries gradually developed in the area. The El Paso and Northeastern Railway was chartered in 1897, to help extract the natural resources of surrounding areas, especially in southeastern New Mexico Territory. The 1920s and 1930s saw the emergence of major business development in the city, partially enabled by Prohibition-era bootlegging,.[19] However, the military demobilization, an agricultural economic depression which hit places like El Paso first before the larger Great Depression was felt in the big cities, hit the city hard. In turn, as in the rest of the United States, the Depression era overall hit the city hard, and El Paso's population declined through the end of World War II with most of population losses coming from the white community. Nonetheless, whites remained the majority to the 1940s.

During and following the war, military expansion in the area, as well as oil discoveries in the Permian Basin (North America), helped to engender rapid economic expansion in the mid-1900s. Copper smelting, oil refining, and the proliferation of low-wage industries (particularly garment making) led the city's growth. Additionally, the departure of region's rural population, which was mostly white, to cities like El Paso, brought a short term burst of capital and labor. However, this was balanced by additional departures of middle class Americans to other parts of the country which offered new and better paying jobs. In turn, local businesses looked south to the opportunities afforded by cheap Mexican labor. Furthermore, the period from 1942 to 1956 saw the bracero program which brought in cheap Mexican labor into the rural area to replace the losses of the native white population. In turn, seeking better-paying jobs these migrants also moved to El Paso. By 1965, Hispanics once again were a majority. Meanwhile, the post-war expansion slowed again in the 1960s, but the city continued to grow with the annexation of surrounding neighborhoods and in large part because of its significant economic relationship with Mexico.


El Paso and the Franklin Mountains with snow from winter storm Goliath; neighborhoods around Austin High School (center) are shown, from central El Paso at the bottom to Northeast El Paso at the top. The Patriot Freeway (aka the North-South Freeway), US Highway 54, is on the right.
Looking northwest at the Franklin Mountains from Ranger Peak
False-color satellite image of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez: Paved streets and buildings appear in varying shades of blue-gray, and red indicates vegetation. Image courtesy of NASA

El Paso is at 31°47′25″N 106°25′24″W / 31.79028°N 106.42333°W / 31.79028; -106.42333 (31.790208, −106.423242).[33] It lies at the intersection of three states (Texas, New Mexico, and Chihuahua) and two countries (the US and Mexico). It is the only major Texas city on Mountain Time. Ciudad Juarez used to be on Central Time,[34] but both cities are now on Mountain Time.

El Paso is closer to the capital cities of four other states - Phoenix, Arizona (348 miles away); Santa Fe, New Mexico, (272 miles away); Ciudad Chihuahua, Chihuahua, (212 miles away); and Hermosillo, Sonora (327 miles away) - than it is to the capital of its own state, Austin (526 miles away). It is closer to Los Angeles, California (702 miles away) than it is to Orange, Texas (762 miles away), the easternmost town in the state.

El Paso is located within the Chihuahuan Desert, the easternmost section of the Basin and Range Region. The Franklin Mountains extend into El Paso from the north and nearly divide the city into two sections; the west side forms the beginnings of the Mesilla Valley, and the east side expands into the desert and lower valley. They connect in the central business district at the southern end of the mountain range.

The city's elevation is 3,800 ft (1,200 m) above sea level. North Franklin Mountain is the highest peak in the city at 7,192 ft (2,192 m) above sea level. The peak can be seen from 60 mi (100 km) in all directions. Additionally, this mountain range is home to the famous natural red-clay formation, the Thunderbird, from which the local Coronado High School gets its mascot's name. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 256.3 square miles (663.7 km2).[35]

The 24,000-acre (9,700 ha) Franklin Mountains State Park, the largest urban park in the United States, lies entirely in El Paso, extending from the north and dividing the city into several sections along with Fort Bliss and El Paso International Airport.

The Rio Grande Rift, which passes around the southern end of the Franklin Mountains, is where the Rio Grande flows. The river defines the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez to the south and west until the river turns north of the border with Mexico, separating El Paso from Doña Ana County, New Mexico. Mt. Cristo Rey, an example of a pluton, rises within the Rio Grande Rift just to the west of El Paso on the New Mexico side of the Rio Grande. Nearby volcanic features include Kilbourne Hole and Hunt's Hole, which are Maar volcanic craters 30 miles (50 km) west of the Franklin Mountains.


Palm trees in far east El Paso

El Paso has a transitional climate between cold desert climate (Köppen BWk) and hot desert climate (Köppen BWh) with hot summers, usually with little humidity, and mild, dry winters. Rainfall averages 9.7 in (250 mm) per year, much of which occurs during the summer from July through September, and is predominantly caused by the North American Monsoon. During this period, southerly and southeasterly winds carry moisture from the Pacific, the Gulf of California, and the Gulf of Mexico into the region. When this moisture moves into the El Paso area and places to the southwest, orographic lift from the mountains, combined with strong daytime heating, causes thunderstorms, some severe enough to produce flash flooding and hail, across the region.

The sun shines 302 days per year on average in El Paso, 83% of daylight hours, according to the National Weather Service; from this, the city is nicknamed "The Sun City".[36] Due to its arid, windy climate, El Paso often experiences sand and dust storms during the dry season, particularly during the springtime between March and early May. With an average wind speed often exceeding 30 mph (50 km/h) and gusts that have been measured at over 75 mph (120 km/h), these wind storms kick up large amounts of sand and dust from the desert, causing loss of visibility.

El Paso, at 3,800 ft (1,200 m) elevation, also receives snow; weather systems have produced over a foot (30 cm) of snow on several occasions. In the 1982-1983 winter season, three major snowstorms produced record seasonal snowfall. On December 25–26, 1982, 6.0 inches of snow fell, producing a white Christmas for the city.[37] This was followed by another 7.0 inches on December 30–31, 1982. On April 4–7, 1983, 16.5 inches of snow fell on El Paso, bringing the seasonal total to nearly 30 inches. On December 13–14, 1987, a record storm dumped over 22 inches of snow on El Paso, and two weeks later (December 25–26), another three inches fell, bringing the monthly total for December 1987 to an all-time record high of 25.9 inches.[38] (65 cm) of snow.[39] The average annual snowfall for the city varies widely between different neighborhoods at different elevations, but is 6.1 inches at the airport (but with a median of 0, meaning most years see no snow at all[40]). It is most rare around Ysleta and the eastern valley area, which usually include large numbers of palm trees; while in the higher neighborhoods palm trees are more vulnerable to cold snaps and as a result many of which can be seen with brown leaves.

One example of El Paso's varying climate at its most extreme was the damaging winter storm of early February 2011, which caused closures of schools, businesses, and City Hall. The snow, which was light, stopped after about a day, but during the ensuing cold episode, municipal utilities went into a crisis. The high temperature on February 2, 2011 was 15 °F (−9 °C), the lowest daily maximum on record. In addition, the low temperature on February 3 was 1 °F (−17 °C), breaking the 5 °F (−15 °C) monthly record low set during the cold wave of 1899.[37] Loss of desert vegetation, such as Mexican/California palm trees, oleanders, and iceplants to the cold weather was one of the results. Electric wires were broken, causing area blackouts. Many water utility pipes froze, causing areas of the city to be without water for several days. When the pipes thawed, water was unsafe to drink due to filtration systems not working, forcing schools to close again.

Rio Grande in west El Paso near New Mexico state line

Monthly means range from 44.8 °F (7.1 °C) in December to 82.8 °F (28.2 °C) in July, but high temperatures typically peak in June before the monsoon arrives, while daily low temperatures typically peak in July or early August with the higher humidity the monsoon brings (translating to warmer nights). On average, there are 52 nights of at- or below-freezing lows, 109 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs and 20 days of 100 °F (38 °C)+ highs annually; it is extremely rare for temperatures to stay below the freezing mark all day.[39] The city's record high is 114 °F (46 °C) on June 30, 1994, and its record low is −8 °F (−22 °C) on January 11, 1962; the highest daily minimum was 85 °F (29 °C) on July 1 and 3, 1994, with weather records for the area maintained by the National Weather Service since 1879.


Although the average annual rainfall is only about 9.7 in (250 mm), many parts of El Paso are subject to occasional flooding during intense summer monsoonal thunderstorms. In late July and early August 2006, up to 10 in (250 mm) of rain fell in a week, the flood-control reservoirs overflowed and caused major flooding citywide.[41] The city staff estimated damage to public infrastructure at $21 million, and to private property (residential and commercial) at $77 million.[42] Much of the damage was associated with development in recent decades in arroyos protected by flood-control dams and reservoirs, and the absence of any storm drain utility in the city to handle the flow of rain water.

Monthly statistics


Downtown and central El Paso

The Cathedral of Saint Patrick built in 1916 is located in Central El Paso.

This part of town contains some of the city's oldest and most historic neighborhoods. Located in the heart of the city, it is home to approximately 130,000 people. Development of the area started around 1875, when the city was barely beginning to gain its roots. Today, central El Paso has grown into the center of the city's economy and a thriving urban community. It contains numerous historic sites and landmarks mostly in the Sunset Heights district. It is close to the El Paso International Airport, Downtown El Paso, the international border, and Fort Bliss. It is part of the El Paso Independent School District.

Dr. James Day, an El Paso historian, said that downtown's main business area was originally centered between Second Avenue (now Paisano Drive) and San Francisco Avenue. At a later point the main business area was centered around Stanton Street and Santa Fe Street. In the late 1800s most of the white American residents lived to the north of the non-white areas, living in brick residences along Magoffin, Myrtle, and San Antonio Avenues. Hispanic-American residents lived in an area called "Chihuahuita" ("little Chihuahua"), which was located south of Second Avenue and west of Santa Fe Street. Several African Americans and around 300 Chinese Americans also lived in Chihuahuita. Many of the Chinese Americans participated in the building of railroads in the El Paso area.[45]

Northwest El Paso

Main article: Northwest El Paso
El Paso's upper valley in northwest El Paso
The west side of the Franklin Mountains after winter storm Goliath

Better known as West El Paso or the West Side, the area includes a portion of the Rio Grande floodplain upstream from downtown which is known locally as the Upper Valley and is located on the west side of the Franklin Mountains. The Upper Valley is the greenest part of the county due to the Rio Grande. The west side is home to some of the most affluent neighborhoods within the city, such as the Coronado Hills and Country Club neighborhoods. It is one of the fastest-growing areas of El Paso.

West central El Paso

Main article: West central El Paso
Historic home at Kern Place

West central El Paso is located north of Interstate 10 and west of the Franklin Mountains. The University of Texas at El Paso and the Cincinnati Entertainment district are located in the heart of the area. Historic districts Kern Place and Sunset Heights are in this part of town.

Kern Place was founded in 1914 by Peter Kern, for whom the neighborhood was named. Kern was a promoter, a businessman, a philosopher and a traveler. Kern first came to El Paso in 1881 when he was in his early twenties. He saw El Paso as a growing city with great potential in the newly arrived railroad. He began a jewelry store that became quite successful in a town of saloons, brothels and gambling houses.

The homes of Kern Place are unique in design as compared to other parts of town. Some of the homes were built by the residents themselves. One of the better known domiciles is Paul Luckett home located at 1201 Cincinnati Ave. above Madeline Park. The house is made of rock gathered from the area, and affectionately known as "The Castle" due to its round walls and a crenelated rooftop.

Kern Place

Kern Place is extremely popular with college and university students. The area is known for its glitzy entertainment district, restaurants and coffee shops who cater to both business patrons and university students. After UTEP's basketball and football games, UTEP fans pack the Kern Place area for food and entertainment at Cincinnati Street a small bar district. This bar scene has grown over the years and has attracted thousands to its annual Mardi Gras block party as well as after sporting events or concerts. Young men and women make up the majority of the crowds who stop in between classes or after work.

Sunset Heights is one of the most historic areas in town, which has existed since the latter part of the 1890s. Many wealthy residents have had their houses and mansions built on this hill. Although some buildings have been renovated to their former glory, but many have been neglected and have deteriorated. During the Mexican Revolution, a widely popular Mexican revolutionary leader, Doroteo Arango (also known as Francisco "Pancho" Villa), owned and resided in this area during the 1910s.[46] During the 1910 Mexican Revolution many Mexicans fled Mexico and settled in Sunset Heights.[47]

Northeast El Paso

Main article: Northeast El Paso

This part of town is located north of central El Paso and east of the Franklin Mountains. Development of the area was extensive during the 1950s and 1960s. It is one of the more ethnically diverse areas in the city due to the concentration of military families. The Northeast has not developed as rapidly as other areas like east El Paso and northwest El Paso, but its development is steadily increasing. It is expected that the population will grow more rapidly as a result of the troop increase at Ft. Bliss in the coming years. The area has also gained recognition throughout the city for the outstanding high school athletic programs at Andress High School, Parkland High School, Irvin High School, and Chapin High School.

East El Paso

Main article: East El Paso

The area is located north of Interstate 10, east of Airway Blvd., and south of Montana Ave. It is the largest and fastest growing area of town with a population of over 150,000. It includes the 79936 zip code, which was considered in 2013 as the most populous in the nation with over 114,000 people.[48] Its neighborhoods are mainly middle-class, but does have a considerable number of affluent neighborhoods. East El Paso is noted also for its ridges and cliffs which offer desirable views of the lower valley, the Franklin Mountains and downtown El Paso. It also possesses the greatest number of entertainment venues in the city.

Mission Valley

Formerly known as the lower valley, it includes part of Eastside and all lower valley districts. It is the third largest area of the city, behind east El Paso and central El Paso. Hawkins Road and Interstate 10 border the Mission Valley. This location is considered the oldest area of El Paso, dating back to the late 17th century when present-day Texas was under the rule of Nueva España (New Spain).

La Mision de Corpus Christi de San Antonio de la Ysleta del Sur

In 1680 the Isleta Pueblo tribe revolted against the Spaniards who were pushed south to what is now El Paso. Some Spaniards and tribe members settled here permanently. Soon afterward, three Spanish missions were built; they remain standing, currently functioning as churches:Ysleta Mission-1682 (La Misión de Corpus Christi y de San Antonio de la Ysleta del Sur/Our Lady of Mt. Carmel), Socorro Mission-1759 (Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción del Socorro)-1759 and San Elizario Chapel (Capilla de San Elcear)-1789.

On April 30, 1598, the northward-bound Spanish conquistadors crossed large sand dunes about 27 miles south of present-day downtown El Paso. It is said that the expeditionaries and their horses ran toward the river, and two horses drank themselves to death. Don Juan de Oñate, a New Spain-born conquistador of Spanish parents, was an expedition leader who ordered a big feast north of the Río Grande in what is now San Elizario. This was the first documented and true Thanksgiving in North America. Oñate declared La Toma (taking possession), claiming all territory north of the Río Grande for King Philip II of Spain.

Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo (related to the insurgent Isleta Pueblo Tribe) is also located in this valley. The Tigua (pronounced Tiwa) is one of three Indian tribes in Texas whose sovereignty is recognized by the United States government. Ysleta is spelled with a "Y" because 19th-century script did not differentiate between a capital "Y" and a capital "I."

Some people in this area and its twin city across the river, Ciudad Juárez, are direct descendants of the Spaniards.

Texas and New Mexico suburbs

El Paso is surrounded by many cities and communities in both Texas and New Mexico. The most populated suburbs in Texas are Socorro, Horizon City, Fort Bliss and San Elizario. Other Texas suburbs are Anthony, Canutillo, Sparks, Fabens and Vinton.

Although Anthony, Santa Teresa, Sunland Park, and Chaparral lie adjacent to El Paso County, they are considered to be part of the Las Cruces, New Mexico metropolitan area by the United States Census Bureau.[49]


A panoramic view of El Paso, looking northeast through south, near Scenic Drive. The Hueco Mountains can be seen toward the east, and Downtown El Paso can be seen to the south (far right of the image).

Tallest buildings

1 Wells Fargo Plaza 296 ft (90 m) 21
2 Chase Tower 250 ft (76 m) 20
3 Plaza Hotel 239 ft (73 m) 19
4 Kayser Building 232 ft (71 m) 20
5 O. T. Bassett Tower 216 ft (66 m) 17
6 El Paso Natural Gas Company Building 208 ft (63 m) 18
7 Camino Real Hotel 205 ft (62 m) 17
8 One Texas Tower 205 ft (62 m) 15
9 Doubletree Hotel 202 ft (62 m) 17
10 El Paso County Courthouse 185 ft (56 m) 13

El Paso's tallest building, the Wells Fargo Plaza, was built in the early 1970s as State National Plaza. The black-windowed, 296-foot (90 m) building is famous for its 13 white horizontal lights (18 lights per row on the east and west sides of the building, and seven bulbs per row on the north and south sides) that were lit at night. The tower did use a design of the United States flag during the July 4 holidays, as well as the American hostage crisis of 1980, and was lit continuously following the September 11 attacks in 2001 until around 2006. During the Christmas holidays, a design of a Christmas tree was used, and at times, the letters "UTEP" were used to support University of Texas at El Paso athletics. The tower is now only lit during the holiday months, or when special events take place in the city.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2015681,124[50]4.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[51]
Texas Almanac: 1850–2000[52]
2012 Estimate[53]
El Paso 1850 to 2006[54]
TX State Historical Association[55]
Demographic profile 2010[56] 2000[57] 1990[58] 1970[58]
White 80.8% 76.3% 76.9% 96.7%
 Non-Hispanic whites 14.2% 18.3% 26.4% 40.4%[59]
African American or Black 3.4% 3.5% 3.4% 2.3%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 80.7% 76.6% 69.0% 57.3%[59]
Asian 1.2% 1.5% 1.2% 0.3%

As of the census of 2010, 649,121 people, 216,694 households, and 131,104 families resided in the city. The population density was 2,263.0 people per square mile (873.7/km²). There were 227,605 housing units at an average density of 777.5 per square mile (300.2/km²).

According to the 2010 US Census, the racial composition of El Paso was:[60]

Ethnically, the city was:

There were 182,063 households out of which 42.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.6% were married couples living together, 18.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.5% were not families. About 19.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.07 and the average family size was 3.54.

Islamic Center of El Paso

In the city, the population was distributed as 31.0% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 29.1% from 25 to 44, 19.2% from 45 to 64, and 10.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,124, and for a family was $35,432. Males had a median income of $28,989 versus $21,540 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,388. About 19.0% of families and 22.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.8% of those under age 18 and 17.7% of those age 65 or over.


El Paso has a diversified economy focused primarily within international trade, military, government civil service, oil and gas, health care, tourism and service sectors. The El Paso metro area had a GDP of $29 billion in 2011.[61] There were also $92 billion worth of trade in 2012.[62] Over the past 15 years the city has become a significant location for American-based call centers. Cotton, fruit, vegetables, and livestock are also produced in the area. El Paso has added a significant manufacturing sector with items and goods produced that include petroleum, metals, medical devices, plastics, machinery, defense-related goods and automotive parts. The city is the second busiest international crossing point in the U.S behind San Diego.[63]

Helen of Troy Limited corporate office

El Paso is home to one Fortune 500 company in Western Refining, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.[64] This makes the city one of six Texas metro areas to have at least one Fortune 500 company call it home; the others being Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin and Corpus Christi.[65] The city has three other publicly traded companies in Helen of Troy Limited, a NASDAQ-listed company that manufactures personal health care products under many labels, such as OXO, Dr. Scholl's, Vidal Sassoon, Pert Plus, Brut and Sunbeam, among others. The third publicly traded company is El Paso Electric listed on the New York Stock Exchange, a public utility engaging in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity in west Texas and southern New Mexico. The fourth publicly traded company is Western Refining Logistics also traded in the New York Stock Exchange. It is a Western Refining subsidiary which owns, operates, develops, and acquires terminals, storage tanks, pipelines, and other logistics assets.

Largest Employers in El Paso[66]
1Fort Bliss
2El Paso Independent School District
3 City of El Paso
4Ysleta Independent School District
5 T & T Staff Management L.P.[67]
6 Tenet Healthcare
7 University of Texas at El Paso
8 El Paso Healthcare System, LTD.
9 El Paso County
10 El Paso Community College
11 U.S. Customs and Border Protection
12 Automatic Data Processing, Inc.
13 University Medical Center
14 Dish Network
15 Texas Tech University Health Sciences Network

More than 70 Fortune 500 companies have offices in El Paso, including AT&T, ADP, Boeing, Charles Schwab, Delphi, dish network, Eureka, Hoover, Raytheon, Prudential Financial, USAA and Verizon Wireless.[68][69] Hispanic Business Magazine included 28 El Paso companies in its recently released list of the 500 largest Hispanic owned businesses in the United States.[70] El Paso's 28 companies are second only to Miami's 57. The list of largest Hispanic owned businesses include companies like Fred Loya Insurance a Hispanic 500 and 18th largest Hispanic business in the nation. Other companies on the list are Dos Lunas Spirits, Dynatec Labs, Spira Footwear Datamark, Inc. and El Taco Tote. El Paso was home to El Paso Corporation formerly known as El Paso Natural Gas Company.

The city also has a large military presence with Fort Bliss, William Beaumont Army Medical Center and Biggs Army Airfield. The defense industry in El Paso employs over 41,000 and provides a $6 billion annual impact to the city's economy.[71] Fort Bliss was chosen as the newly configured U.S. Air Force Security Forces Regional Training Center which will bring 8,000 to 10,000 Air Force personnel annually.[72]

In addition to the military, the federal government has a strong presence in El Paso to manage its status and unique issues as an important border region. Operations headquartered in El Paso include the DEA domestic field division 7, El Paso Intelligence Center, Joint Task Force North, U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector and U.S. Border Patrol Special Operations Group (SOG).

Call center operations employ more than 10,000 people in the area. Automatic Data Processing has an office in West El Paso, employing about 1,100 people with expansion plans to reach 2,200 by 2020.[73]

Tourism is another major industry in El Paso, bringing in $1.5 billion-a-year and over 2.3 million visitors annually due to the city's sunny weather, natural beauty, rich cultural history and many outdoor attractions.[74]

Education is also a driving force in El Paso's economy. El Paso's three large school districts are among the largest employers in the area, employing more than 20,000 people among them. UTEP has an annual budget of nearly $418 million and employs nearly 4,800 people.[75][76] A 2010 study by the university's Institute for Policy and Economic Development stated the University's impact on local businesses is $417 million annually.[77]

Arts and culture

Main article: Culture of El Paso

Annual cultural events and festivals

Amigo Airsho

Amigo Airsho is one of El Paso's premier events, and is ranked as one of the top ten air shows in the country. The show is filled with air entertainment and ground activities. Acts include the Franklin's Flying Circus, where performers walk on the wings of an airborne plane. Ground activities include the Jet Powered School Bus. After 31 years of being held at Biggs Army Airfield, the show will move to Dona Ana Airport in 2014.[78]

KLAQ Great River Raft Race

Great River Raft Race held annually on the Rio Grande in El Paso's upper valley.

The KLAQ Great River Raft Race is an annual event celebrated on the second to last Saturday of June. Participants are encouraged to ride the river and float the Rio Grande with family and friends. The organizers encourage the building of unique rafts that will get you down the river with prizes and trophies awarded for the most points earned, best looking crew, and best decorated raft. The race starts at the Vinton bridge and ends three miles downstream at the Canutillo bridge.[79]

Southwestern International PRCA Rodeo

The Southwestern International PRCA Rodeo is the 17th oldest rodeo in the nation and El Paso's longest running sporting event. Consistently ranked as one of the top 50 shows in the country by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, this charitable event is a true celebration of western culture and heritage.[80]

Fiesta de las Flores

Fiesta de las Flores is the oldest Hispanic Festival in the Southwest. The three-day Fiesta is held each year during the Labor Day weekend and emphasizes El Paso's Hispanic heritage and culture. The festival attracts 20,000 to 30,000 visitors from El Paso County, New Mexico, West Texas and the State of Chihuahua, Mexico.[81] Activities included in the Fiesta are crowning of the Queen, a Fiesta Parade, Senior Appreciation Dance, Military Appreciation Day, and live Entertainment. The Fiesta is also well known for the authentic regional cuisine, arts and craft wares, games, and services available for the enjoyment of all segments of the attendees. Over 80 booths, sponsored by local vendors and nonprofit organizations create the Hispanic ambience and culture.

Cleveland Square in downtown El Paso is where many of the festivals are held annually.

El Paso Balloonfest

The El Paso Balloonfest is an annual event celebrated on Memorial Day weekend and is self described as "3 days of hot air balloons filling the El Paso skies, 3 afternoons of concerts and fun in the sun at Wet N' Wild Waterworld in Anthony, Texas." Over 60 balloons take to the air annually from TFCU launch field which is adjacent to the water park. After the balloons launch, visitors have a weekend of water rides, swimming, concerts, and grilling. The concert aspect of the event features local bands, starting at noon, and different headlining artists in the afternoon.[82] Overnight camping has been added for 2014.[83]

Music Festivals

El Paso Downtown Street Festival

The annual El Paso Downtown Street Festival is held during the last weekend of June in downtown El Paso near the El Paso Convention center.[84] It is the oldest musical festival in the city and brings local, regional and nationally known acts.

Neon Desert Music Festival

The annual Neon Desert Music Festival is a two-day event usually held on the last Saturday and Sunday of May on five stages in downtown El Paso stretching from San Jacinto Plaza to Cleveland Square.[85] The festival brings over 30 acts from the worlds of indie rock, Latin and electronic dance music.

Music Under the Stars

The outdoor concert series, started in 1983, is held annually at the Chamizal National Memorial and draws over 60,000 attendees. It features local and international performers with musical genres ranging from Classical, Country, Tejano, rock and others. The evening concerts are showcased every Sunday afternoon and start in early June and end in the middle of August.[86]

Sun City Music Festival

The only El Paso musical festival not held downtown; instead it is held at Ascarate Park. The Sun City Music Festival is a two-day event dubbed as the largest electronic dance music festival in Texas.[87]

Texas Showdown Festival

The Texas Showdown Festival is an annual event celebrating musicians and tattoo artists under one roof.[88] Dubbed as the world's largest tattoo and musical festival, the event is held usually the last weekend of July at the El Paso County Coliseum.

Performing arts

Viva! El Paso

The outdoor musical extravaganza Viva! El Paso is performed in the McKelligon Canyon Amphitheatre. It is locally produced and chronicles the 400-year history and cultural evolution of the El Paso region. The show is performed each Friday and Saturday night in June, July, and August. Viva! El Paso has entertained local residents and out-of-town visitors for over 35 years.[89]

El Paso Symphony Orchestra

The El Paso Symphony was established in the 1930s, it is the oldest performing arts organization in El Paso and the longest continuously running symphony orchestra in the state of Texas.[90] It has received both national and international recognition as a result of its very successful tours of Germany in 1996 and Turkey in 2000, and continues to represent the El Paso region with pride and distinction. The El Paso Symphony Orchestra Association season is anchored by 12 classical concerts. Special events serve as outreach toward new audiences.

Ballet in El Paso

Ballet was largely nonexistent in El Paso until the arrival of Ingeborg Heuser, a professional ballerina from Germany, in the 1950s. Heuser taught ballet at the University of Texas at El Paso for 47 years and founded the city's first professional ballet company, firstly known as Texas Western Civic Ballet and eventually as Ballet El Paso. The company dissipated due to financial trouble in 1997 and Heuser retired from UTEP soon after.[91][92]

The El Paso Youth Ballet was founded in 2009 by Heuser's previous student, Marta Katz, following Heuser's departure from the university. With students from the youth ballet, Heuser staged her last Nutcracker in 2006. The youth company continues to perform the Nutcracker and other pre-professional pieces in and around the El Paso area. The company provides the only platform for young ballet dancers to train and perform at such a level within the city since the folding of Ballet El Paso.[93]

El Paso City Ballet is a current professional ballet company in El Paso, providing local employment for professional dancers in the field of ballet. The company performs a variety of classical and contemporary works choreographed by Artistic Director Lisa Skaf and artists from the US and Latin America.[94] It has been active since 2005, performing yearly productions.


The Abraham Chavez Theatre, adjacent to the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center, welcomes patrons with a three-story-high glass-windowed entry and unique sombrero-shaped architecture, making it a distinct feature on El Paso's southwestern landscape.

The Plaza Theatre is a historic building located at 125 Pioneer Plaza. The theater stands as one of the city's most well-known landmarks. It shows various Broadway productions, musical concerts, and individual performers. It has a seating capacity of 2,100.

McKelligon Canyon is a 90-acre (360,000 m2) park, located in the Franklin Mountains, open to hikers and picnickers. In the canyon, McKelligon Canyon Amphitheatre is surrounded on three sides by dramatic canyon walls; the 1,500-seat amphitheatre is used for concerts and special events, such as Viva El Paso! El Paso Playhouse is a theater affiliated with Kids-N-Co, a theater for child actors. The UTEP Dinner Theatre is a theatre within the UTEP campus.

Area museums

El Paso Museum of Archaeology, diorama shows Cueva de la Olla (cave of the pot – a large pot-shaped storage container for grain), Paquimé, Sierra Madre of Chihuahua

The Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, located on the grounds of UTEP, includes a comprehensive collection of El Paso Brown, Native American pottery, as well as educational exhibits for students.

The El Paso Museum of Archaeology is located on the eastern slope of North Franklin Mountain, west of Gateway South Blvd. on TransMountain Rd.[95] Its grounds include native plants of the American Southwest, as well samples of Native American shelters, in an unspoiled location. The museum includes dioramas for school children which illustrate the culture and geology of the American Southwest, such as Hueco Tanks in El Paso County. One diorama (see image to the right) is of the Cueva de la Olla[96] (cave of the pot) which is located in the Sierra Madre of Chihuahua, an example of the Paquimé culture.[97]

The El Paso Museum of Art is located next to the Plaza Theater adjacent to San Jacinto Plaza, the public square downtown. It contains works of southwestern artists such as Tom Lea.

Other area museums include:

Sites within the city limits

Sea Lion exhibit at the El Paso Zoo

Sites within the metro and surrounding area

Within driving distance from El Paso are nine state parks, two national parks, two national monuments, one national memorial and a national forest.

Guadalupe Peak from Bowl Trail


Aerial view of Sun Bowl Stadium and Kidd Field
Chihuahuas baseball game at Southwest University Park

El Paso is home to the Sun Bowl, the second oldest consecutive college football contest (after the Rose Bowl). Its first game was held in 1937 and it is now known as the Hyundai Sun Bowl.

On September 18, 2012, the city council voted to approve the demolition of the current city hall to make way for Southwest University Park,[108] to be the new home of the El Paso Chihuahuas Triple-A team (San Diego Padres affiliate) beginning with the 2014 season. The team was recently purchased by Mountainstar Sports Group of El Paso.[109]

The El Paso Marathon takes place annually since 2007. The El Paso Patriots played their last season in 2013 and are no longer an organization.

Club Sport League Venue Capacity
El Paso Chihuahuas Baseball AAA PCL Southwest University Park 9,500
El Paso Rhinos Ice hockey WSHL Sierra Providence Event Center 5,250
El Paso Coyotes Indoor Soccer MASL Sierra Providence Event Center 5,250
UTEP Miners football NCAA Division I FBS Football Conference USA Sun Bowl Stadium 51,500
UTEP Basketball men NCAA Division I Basketball Conference USA Don Haskins Center 12,000
UTEP Basketball women NCAA Division I Basketball Conference USA Memorial Gym 5,000
UTEP Softball NCAA Division I Softball Conference USA Helen of Troy Field 607
UTEP Track and Field NCAA Division I Track and Field Conference USA Kidd Field 15,000
UTEP Women's soccer NCAA Division I soccer Conference USA University Field 500
EPCC Baseball NJCAA Division I Baseball WJCAC EPCC Baseball Field 520

Parks and recreation

Wyler Aerial Tramway at the Franklin Mountains State Park

El Paso is home to the largest urban park in the nation.[110] The Franklin Mountains State Park, with its more than 24,248 acres (9,813 ha), is completely located within the city limits. The park is open year-round for recreation including hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, scenic driving and views of the city. The city is also home to 242 municipal parks.[111][112]

The Wyler Aerial Tramway is operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and is in the Franklin Mountains State Park. The tramway complex covers 196 acres (0.79 km2) on the east side of the Franklin Mountains. The gondolas travel along two 2,600-foot (790 m) 1 38 diameter steel cables to Ranger Peak, 5,632 feet (1,717 m) above sea level. The trip takes about four minutes and lifts riders 940 feet (290 m) above the boarding area.

Bouldering on North Mountain at Hueco Tanks

Hueco Tanks State Historic Site is a Texas historic site in the Hueco Tanks area, approximately 32 miles (51 km) northeast of El Paso. The park is popular for recreation such as birding and bouldering, and is culturally and spiritually significant to many Native Americans. This significance is partially manifested in the pictographs (rock paintings) that can be found throughout the region, many of which are thousands of years old.[113] Also within the city limits, the Chamizal National Memorial is a 54.90-acre (22.22 ha) memorial park that serves primarily as a cultural center and contains art galleries, a theater, and an amphitheatre. A museum, which details the history of the U.S.–Mexico border, is located inside the visitor center.

Botanical Gardens

Golf courses

The metro area has 16 golf courses including Butterfield Trail Golf Club, the only public premium daily fee Tom Fazio designed golf course in the state of Texas.[114] It was ranked No. 1 in Texas and No. 3 in the Nation on Golfweek's 2013 Best Municipal Golf Courses.[115] Other golf courses found in the county include:

  • Ascarate Golf Course[116]
  • Coronado Country Club[117]
  • El Paso Country Club[118]
  • Horizon City Golf Course[119]
  • Lone Star Golf Club[120]
  • Painted Dunes Desert Golf Club[121]
  • Vista Hills Country Club[122]
  • Underwood Golf Complex[123]

Next door in Dona Ana County there are the following golf courses:


The El Paso Zoo has 35 acres (14 ha) and over 200 animal species. The zoo is divided into three distinct sections: the Americas; Asia; and Africa. Exhibits include elephants, lions, tigers, sea lions, zebras, and giraffes.


El Paso City Council[130]

• City Council is officially nonpartisan

Peter Svarzbein District 1, Westside
Jim Tolbert District 2, West Central
Emma Acosta District 3, East Central
Carl L. Robinson District 4, Northeast
Dr. Michiel Noe District 5, Eastside
Claudia Ordaz District 6, East Valley
Lilia B. Limon District 7, Mid Valley
Cortney Niland District 8, Southside


The city government is officially nonpartisan. Mayors and city council members are elected for four year terms and may not be elected more than twice or serve for more than 10 years in their respective offices.[131] Municipal elections are currently held in May in odd-numbered years, but a voter-approved charter amendment will change this to November in even-numbered years, beginning in 2018.[132] Council members elected in 2015 will serve through December 2018, and council members and the mayor elected in 2017 will serve through December 2020. Those elected in 2018 and 2020 will serve regular four-year terms.[133]

The city operates under a council–manager form of government. Power is concentrated in the eight-member elected city council and mayor, who hire a manager to carry out its directives and oversee the delivery of public services. The current city manager is Tommy Gonzalez[134] and the current mayor of El Paso is Oscar Leeser, who was elected to the office in 2013.[135]

The terms of Mayor Leeser and Councillors Acosta, Limon, Robinson, and Tolbert will end in 2017.[136] The terms of Niland, Noe, Ordaz, and Svarzbein will end in 2018.

Acosta has been on the council since 2008, Robinson since 2009, Niland and Noe since 2011, Limon since 2013, Ordaz since 2014, Svarzbein since 2015, and Tolbert since 2016.[137] Due to the term limits clause of the city charter, Acosta, Niland, Noe, and Robinson are ineligible for reelection. Limon and Tolbert will be eligible for re-election in 2017. Ordaz and Svarzbein will be eligible for re-election in 2018.[138] Mayor Leeser would be eligible for re-election in 2017 but is not seeking a second term.[139]


The El Paso County Judge is Veronica Escobar, and the county commissioners are Carlos Leon (Precinct 1), David Stout (Precinct 2), Vince Perez (Precinct 3),[140] and Andrew Haggerty (Precinct 4). Haggerty is a Republican, the other commissioners and the county judge are Democrats.

Escobar was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, and has been in office since 2011. Leon and Perez were first elected to their positions in 2012, were re-elected in 2016,[141] and have been in office since 2013. Haggerty and Stout were first elected to their positions in 2014, and have been in office since 2015.[142]


The El Paso metropolitan area is represented in the Texas State House by Democrats Cesar Blanco, Mary Gonzalez, Marisa Marquez, Joe Moody, and Joe Pickett, and in the State Senate by José R. Rodríguez (D-El Paso).[143] Marquez did not run for another term in 2016.[144] Lina Ortega won the Democratic nomination for Marquez's seat and faces no Republican opponent.[145] Blanco, Gonzalez, Moody, Pickett, and Rodriguez won the Democratic primaries for their offices in 2016. Only Moody faces a Republican opponent, Jeffrey Lane.[146]

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice operates the El Paso I District Parole Office in the city. The El Paso II District Parole Office is in an unincorporated area east of Horizon City.[147]


El Paso City and County vote overwhelmingly Democratic, like most of the Texas–Mexico border area and urban Texas.[148]

The El Paso metropolitan area is represented by Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso), and Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) in the House of Representatives.[149] The current US Senators for Texas are Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).


UTEP's College of Engineering building

El Paso is home to the University of Texas at El Paso, the largest public university in the region. UTEP was recently ranked as the 7th best university in Washington Monthly's 2013 National University Rankings, just behind Stanford and ahead of Harvard.[150] Also, the university's School of Engineering is the nation's top producer of Hispanic engineers with M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.[151]

El Paso is also home to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso, Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, Texas Tech College of Architecture at El Paso, Brightwood College, Park University, Webster University and the University of Phoenix. Also due to its proximity, many El Paso students attend New Mexico State University where the school offers in-state tuition to El Paso County residents.[152]

The El Paso Community College serves most of the area as well as several technical schools and for profit schools. El Pasoans also have access to the Doña Ana Community College with campuses in Sunland Park, Anthony and Chaparral, New Mexico: This community college is a part of the New Mexico State University system.

El Paso area students primarily attend public schools in four school districts, El Paso Independent School District, Ysleta Independent School District, Socorro Independent School District and Canutillo Independent School District. Numerous accredited private preparatory schools also serve El Paso students. These include various pre-high school religious (Christian, Catholic, Jewish) affiliates and Montessori schools, Cathedral High School, Loretto Academy, Father Yermo High School, Lydia Patterson Institute, Faith Christian Academy, El Paso Jewish Academy, Rose of Sharon Christian Academy, Zion Lutheran Day School and Radford School.

Public libraries

The El Paso Public Library serves the needs of the public in El Paso, Southern New Mexico, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. It consists of 13 branches and one bookmobile service. It also has multiple outreach services available, including a homebound service.[153] Livability.com ranked El Paso's libraries as the 6th best library for kids in the US.[154]



The main newspapers are the English-language daily El Paso Times, founded in 1881; the Spanish-language daily El Diario de El Paso, and the online newspaper El Paso Herald Post started in 2015. The original and defunct El Paso Herald Post was also founded in 1881 as the El Paso Herald, which then merged with the El Paso Post in 1931. The paper was shut down in 1997. El Paso also has some weekly and niche magazines.

Radio stations

Radio stations from Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, can also be heard within the El Paso market.


El Paso was the largest city in the United States without a PBS television station within the city limits until 1978. El Paso viewers had to watch channel 22, KRWG, from Las Cruces until 1978. In fact, the city had only three English-speaking channels and two Spanish-language channels (channel 2 and channel 5) from Juarez, and cable TV subscribers in the 1970s and 1980s could receive four Los Angeles independent channels: KTLA, KHJ, KTTV and KCOP as well as Spanish-language stations KMEX of Los Angeles and KWEX of San Antonio usually sharing the same cable channel slot. Over time, as more television stations signed on, more cable channels were added and those stations added network affiliations, the L.A. and San Antonio stations would disappear from the lineup. The last to be removed was KTLA in the fall of 2006 as a consequence of the WB-UPN merger into The CW, when KVIA-TV launched a digital subchannel with the network's programming.

El Paso's current television stations are as shown in the table below:

Cellular phone coverage

KTSM-TV reports that cellular phone users in El Paso may be subject to international calling fees.[155]

El Paso in popular culture


Films shot or set in El Paso



Popular music about El Paso

El Paso has become a favored destination for musicians of all stripes.[156] Additionally, multiple songs have been written about or mention El Paso:

Printed works about El Paso

Television shows set in El Paso



El Paso Children's Hospital at the Medical Center of the Americas

El Paso is the medical hub of West Texas and Southern New Mexico, hosting numerous state-of-the-art medical centers. Some of the city's top hospitals include William Beaumont Army Medical Center, Sierra Medical Center, Las Palmas Medical Center, Del Sol Medical Center, Sierra Providence East Medical Center, El Paso Children's Hospital, and Providence Memorial Hospital. University Medical Center is the only level I trauma center in the region. William Beaumont Army Medical Center will be replaced by a new state of the art $650 million Fort Bliss Replacement Hospital expected to open in 2017.[157] West El Paso will be getting a new $120 million 140-bed teaching hospital complex with construction expected to be completed by late 2016. The hospital will be affiliated with Texas Tech's Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.

El Paso is also home to the Medical Center of the Americas, an integrated complex of medical facilities anchored by Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso, Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, its primary teaching hospital University Medical Center, the El Paso Psychiatric Center and by the new El Paso Children's Hospital. It is also site to the future Cardwell Collaborative biomedical research park and the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing.


Hotel Bristol and the Union Depot at El Paso, Texas (postcard, circa 1912)

El Paso is served by El Paso International Airport and Amtrak via the historic Union Depot.

Several roads and highways connect El Paso, including Interstate 10, US Highway 54 (known locally as "54", the "North-South Freeway" or officially as the Patriot Freeway), Spur 601 (Liberty Expressway), US Highway 180 and US Highway 62 (Montana Avenue), US Highway 85 (Paisano Drive), Loop 375, Loop 478 (Copia Street-Pershing Drive-Dyer Street), numerous Texas Farm-to-Market roads (a class of state highway commonly abbreviated to FM) and the city's original thoroughfare, State Highway 20, the eastern portion of which is known locally as Alameda Avenue (formerly US Highway 80). Texas 20 also includes portions of Texas Avenue in central El Paso, Mesa Street from Downtown to the West Side, and Doniphan Drive on the West Side. Northeast El Paso is connected to West El Paso by Transmountain Road (Loop 375). The city also shares four international bridges and one railbridge with Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. In 2009, El Paso was home to number 52, number 98, and number 100 of the 100 most congested roads in Texas, which are, respectively: North Zaragoza Road between Sun Fire Boulevard and Interstate 10; Lee Trevino Drive between Montana Avenue and Interstate 10; and Interstate 10 between Patriot Freeway and Loop 375.[158]

A 2014 study by Walk Score ranked El Paso as the 30th most walkable of the 50 largest US cities.[159]


Airport Security Concourse at the El Paso International Airport

El Paso International Airport, a public airport four miles northeast of downtown El Paso, has 15 gates on two concourses and is served by eight airlines and 10 direct destinations. In 2010, there were 3,065,393 commercial passengers. [160]

Passenger rail

El Paso Trolley

Further information: Sun Metro Mass Transit System

The El Paso Trolley is a $90 Million streetcar project slated to run 5.2 miles from Downtown El Paso to UTEP. On June 5, 2012 city council unveiled a new route creating a narrow loop for the future El Paso streetcar route which will use both Oregon and Stanton streets to connect Downtown and the UTEP area. The streetcars will travel north on Oregon Street, turn east at Glory Road/Baltimore, then south on Stanton Street. A downtown loop will travel east on Franklin Avenue, south on Kansas Street, west on Father Rahm, and north on Santa Fe Street.[162]

Major highways

IH-10-US-54 Interchange

Mass transit

The Sun Metro Mass Transit System operates a system of medium- to large-capacity natural gas-powered buses all around the city of El Paso.[165]

El Paso County Transit makes trips with small-capacity buses mainly in the eastern El Paso area.

On September 1, 2009, NMDOT Park and Ride began operating commuter bus service to and from Las Cruces, New Mexico.[166]

Historically, El Paso and Ciudad Juarez had a shared streetcar system with a peak electrified route mileage of 64 miles (103 km) in 1920. The first electrified line across the Rio Grande, which opened on January 11, 1902, was preceded by a network that relied on animal labor. The system quickly spread into residential and industrial areas of El Paso. In 1913, a 12-mile (19 km) interurban line was built to Ysleta. At the close of 1943, the holding company El Paso Electric sold its subsidiary, the El Paso Electric Railway Company and its Mexican counterpart, to one of National City Lines' subsidiaries. This resulted in the formation of El Paso City Lines, whose domestic streetcar lines were replaced by buses in 1947.[167] The international streetcar line which crossed the border via the Stanton Street Bridge continued to operate until 1973. In 1977, El Paso City Lines and two other bus companies were bought by the municipality and merged to form Sun City Area Transit (SCAT). In 1987, SCAT restyled itself Sun Metro.[168]

In 2011, Sun Metro was named the most outstanding public transit system of the year in all of North America for a mid-size transit system by the American Public Transportation Association.

International border crossings

The first bridge to cross the Rio Grande at El Paso del Norte was built in the time of Nueva España, over 250 years ago, from wood hauled in from Santa Fe.[169] Today, this bridge is honored by the modern Santa Fe Street Bridge, and Santa Fe Street in downtown El Paso.

Several bridges serve the El Paso–Ciudad Juárez area in addition to the Paso Del Norte Bridge also known as the Santa Fe Street Bridge, including the Bridge of the Americas,

Walk and bike trail by the Rio Grande

Stanton Street Bridge, and the Ysleta Bridge also known as the Zaragoza Bridge.

There is also a land crossing at nearby Santa Teresa, New Mexico, and the Fabens-Caseta International Bridge in nearby Fabens, Texas.


A 2014 study by Walk Score ranked El Paso as the 30th most walkable of the 50 largest US cities.[159]

Notable people

See also



  1. Official records for El Paso kept January 1879 to June 1947 at downtown and at El Paso Int'l since July 1947. For more information, see Threadex

Source notes

  1. "Visit El Paso, Texas". El Paso Convention & Visitors Bureau. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
  2. "El Chuco tells of El Paso pachuco history – Ramon Renteria". El Paso Times. June 30, 2013. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  4. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/newsroom/releases/2015/cb15-89_graphic.jpg
  5. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  6. "El Paso–Juárez–Las Cruces" (PDF). elpasotexas.gov. 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  7. "2 Cities and 4 Bridges Where Commerce Flows". The New York Times. March 28, 2007. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
  8. "Western Refining edges up 2 spots on Fortune 500 list". El Paso Times. May 7, 2013. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  9. "Medical Center of the Americas Foundation". Retrieved April 27, 2016.
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