El Paso is the western most city in the state of Texas and is located on the northern bank of the Rio Grande River across from the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez. Together, these cities make up the largest international metroplex in the world.
Spanish explorers arrived in the El Paso area in 1581, and in 1598 Juan de Oñate claimed the region for King Phillip II of Spain. He soon crossed the Rio Grande River at a point west of present-day downtown El Paso, calling the location, “El Paso del Rio del Norte,” or the crossing of the river. In 1682, Spanish colonists from Mexico established the settlement of Ysleta at the current site of the city, but it wasn’t until 1827 that Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León founded the first permanent settlement at El Paso. After the U.S.-Mexico War, the Rio Grande River became the international boundary between the two countries, and in 1848 El Paso became part of the United States. El Paso was incorporated as a city in 1873, and the city’s real growth began in 1881 with the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad.
As the second busiest international crossing point in the U.S (San Diego, CA, is first) El Paso has naturally developed an economy that is primarily focused on international trade. In addition, the U.S. military and government civil service have a strong presence here. Fort Bliss, William Beaumont Army Medical Center and Biggs Army Airfield together employ tens of thousands of people and pump some $6 billion into El Paso’s economy every year. In addition, the U.S. Air Force Security Forces Regional Training Center brings thousands of personnel to the area temporarily every year.
Other industries strongly represented in El Paso include oil and gas, health care, tourism and service sectors. More recently, the city has become home to several American-based call centers that receive or send a large number of requests or inquiries by telephone. Manufacturing has also grown, with petroleum, metals, medical devices, plastics, machinery and defense-related goods and automotive parts all being produced in the area. Tourism is a year-round business in El Paso thanks to the region’s beautiful geography and weather.
Several Fortune 500 companies have offices in El Paso, including AT&T, Boeing, Raytheon, State Farm Insurance and ADP, and one—Western Refining—is headquartered here. El Paso is serviced by an international airport, a rail system and a network of major highways that connect the city to neighboring states as well as Mexico’s economic centers.
El Paso is known as Sun City and the nickname couldn’t be more appropriate: The city boasts more than 300 day of sunshine every year, making the city a desirable place to live and work. In addition, El Paso is affordable, and both the cost of living and the unemployment rate are below the national averages. Like all Texans, El Pasoans do not pay state income tax, so they have more disposable income to put back into the local economy. The restaurant industry is one arm of that economy that everyone in the city seems to enjoy. Not surprisingly, authentic Mexican cuisine is easy to find, but there is also Vietnamese, Korean, Italian and American.
Museums, performing arts centers, parks, cultural venues and tourist attractions comprise the El Paso Downtown Arts District. The El Paso Museum of Art is a leading cultural resource for West Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. The Museum’s permanent collection includes more than 6,000 works of art. Temporary exhibits, lectures, films and other educational events attract residents and visitors throughout the year.
El Paso’s historic Plaza Theatre, which opened September 12, 1930, is a well-known city landmark that was restored to its original glory and reopened to awed patrons in 2006. Originally designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style of architecture, the Theatre’s exterior features a Spanish mission-style parapet. Inside are elaborately painted ceilings, mosaic-tile floors and decorative metal railings and light sconces. Even the Wurlitzer pipe organ, which had been auctioned off, is back in its original home.
Located next to the El Paso Convention Center, the Abraham Chavez Theatre is where the El Paso Opera and the El Paso Symphony perform. The Downtown Art and Farmers Market was founded in 2011 and offers regionally grown produce, arts and crafts and live entertainment every Saturday morning. Each summer, thousands attend Music Under the Stars World Music Concert Series at Chamizal National Memorial. And the Texas Tattoo Showdown Music Festival is the largest tattoo and music festival in the U.S. with hundreds of tattoo artists from all over the world.
Whether you want to watch sports or participate, El Paso offers a range of opportunities. The El Paso Chihuahuas are a triple A baseball team affiliated with the San Diego Padres. Football, soccer, track, basketball, golf and tennis enthusiasts support the University of Texas at El Paso Miners and Lady Miners. For rodeo fans, The Southwestern International Livestock Show and Rodeo is one of the top 50 shows of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
Beautiful weather and mostly clear skies make the outdoors an attraction for residents and tourists. With more than 24,000 acres covering some 37 miles within city limits, Franklin Mountains State Park is the largest urban park in the United States. The Park has miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, as well as natural rock formations for climbers. And perched on the side of the Franklin Mountains is El Paso’s famous illuminated star. At 459 feet tall and 278 feet wide, the star is made of 459 light bulbs and is visible for 100 miles from the air and 30 miles from the highways leading into El Paso from the east.
El Paso is in the Chihuahuan Desert at the juncture of Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. The city sits between the Franklin Mountains and the Rio Grande River. El Paso is very dry, receiving only about eight inches of rain per year. Summer temperatures hover around 95 degrees and mild winter temperatures make the season very pleasurable.
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