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El Paso: Recreation

El Paso: Recreation

Sightseeing

The El Paso area's attractions celebrate the region's rich history and culture, as well as its natural resources of the Franklin Mountains and the Rio Grande.

More than 313,000 people visited the El Paso Zoo in 2004, the same year the zoo opened a new sea lion exhibit. On 18 acres, the El Paso Zoo houses more than 600 animals from over 250 species. The zoo's Asia exhibit highlights endangered Indochinese tigers, Sumatran orangutans, Malaysian tapirs, and the critically endangered Amur leopard. Animals in the Americas exhibit include Mexican wolves, the California sea lion, and the Galapagos tortoise. A new exhibit featuring the animals of Africa is expected to open in 2006.

Magoffin Home State Historic Site is a 1.5 acre park and homage to pioneer Joseph Magoffin. The centerpiece of the park is the Magoffin Home, built in 1875 by Magoffin. The 19-room adobe home, built in the Territorial style of architecture, showcases period style with mid-Victorian wood trim and original appointments. Guided tours offer a glimpse into the life of the Magoffin family, who occupied the home until its sale to the city of El Paso in 1976.

The Chamizal National Memorial is part of the National Parks system. Established to commemorate diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United States in 1963, Chamizal honors the peaceful settlement of a century-long boundary dispute between neighboring counties. Visitors can learn about this historic event at the Chamizal Museum or through interpretive performances at the indoor theatre. The Los Paisanos Gallery features the work of local and international artists in a variety of media; the gallery also hosts traveling museum exhibits.

Downtown El Paso's "Museum Row" includes the Museum of Art, El Paso Museum of History, and Insights Science Museum. The El Paso Museum of Art is a celebrated fine arts museum housing a permanent collection of more than 5,000 works of art, including the Samuel H. Kress Collection of European art from the 13th through 18th centuries, American art from the 19th and 20th centuries, Mexican colonial art, and contemporary art from the southwestern United States and Mexico. Temporary exhibitions, educational programs, lectures, and concerts are part of the museum's yearly event schedule. The Museum of History showcases the colorful people who shaped El Paso's history. Insights Science Museum features 60 hands-on exhibits that teach visitors about all aspects of science. Temporary exhibits, classes, and a "Museum on Wheels" round out Insight's offerings to the community.

The Museum of Archaeology at Wilderness Park showcases prehistoric artifacts from the Southwest, including pottery, stone objects, basketry, weavings, and figurines. Exhibits tell the story of El Paso and the region's first inhabitants. The museum's 15 acres feature walking trails and gardens that highlight more than 250 native plants.

The Fort Bliss Museum resides at a reconstructed site of the original Fort. Adobe walls shelter from the heat of the summer as well as create warmth in the winter. Displays include photographs, maps, and personal items. One block south of the museum is the new Air Defense/Artillery Museum, showcasing the history of air defense equipment.

The Natural History Museum features more than 300 exhibits in 30,000 square feet. The Border Patrol Museum highlights the work of those who tirelessly patrol the U.S./Mexico border in El Paso. The El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center chronicles events of the holocaust and memorializes those who suffered.

The Mission Trail offers visitors a glimpse into the El Paso of the past. One of the oldest roads in the country, the Mission Trail dates back more than 400 years. Along the route are three missions, one of which is the oldest building in Texas.

Arts and Culture

The city's Arts & Culture Department (ACD) has been working to bring art and cultural events to residents since 1978. The ACD supports local art organizations through funding, grants programs, and educational programs. In 2003, the ACD was responsible for 1,058 art and cultural events throughout the city, with an overall attendance of 391,165. Some of the ACDs programs include the Young at Art Series, which presents children's theatrical performances; the Discovery Series, which offers dance performances by such renowned troops as Alvin Ailey; Alfresco Fridays, presenting free summer outdoor concerts at various city locations; Music Under the Stars World Festival offers free outdoor music from around the world on summer evenings at Chamizal National Memorial; and the Galleries program, which sponsors art exhibits at City Hall and the El Paso Regional Airport.

The Abraham Chavez Theatre in the El Paso Convention & Performing Arts Center hosts both the El Paso Opera and the El Paso Symphony performances. The El Paso Opera brings full-scale, professional opera to the area in addition to several educational outreach programs. Established in the 1930s, the El Paso Symphony is the longest continuously-running symphony orchestra in Texas, offering a full classical and special events season.

The Aardvark Theatre on N. Mesa presents a full season from September through June; the El Paso Playhouse presents a year-round season of plays and a monthly Dinner Theatre performance. The Adair Margo Gallery on E. Yandell exhibits the work of regional, U.S. and foreign fine artists.

Festivals and Holidays

The events calendar begins with January's El Paso Chamber Music Festival, featuring performances over two weekends at University of Texas at El Paso's Fox Fine Arts Recital Hall. The Southwest International Livestock Show and Rodeo (in its 76th year in 2005) happens at the El Paso County Coliseum and fairgrounds in January or February. Over two weekends in late February and early March, the Siglo de Oro Drama Festival is held in the Chamizal National Memorial Theatre. This annual celebration honors Spain's Golden Age with professional and collegiate performing groups from Spain, Mexico, the United States, and South America. Presentations are often performed in Spanish.

Spring events include the city's semi-annual arts and crafts fair called Art in the Park, held over a weekend in late May at Memorial Park; the KLAQ Balloon Festival in May features hot air balloon rides and concerts at Wet & Wild Waterworld in nearby Anthony, Texas.

Summer events include the annual Independence Day Parades, one each on the city's west and east sides. The Downtown Street Festival follows in downtown El Paso, with four stages featuring live performances and more than 100 booths featuring arts, crafts, food, and drink. The July 2005 Ruisidoso Art Festival is the festival's 33rd; this weekend in late July offers goods from more than 100 juried artists at the Ruidoso Convention Center on Hwy. 48. The KLAQ "Taste of El Paso" happens mid-August at Western Playland. In addition to sampling the wares of local restaurants, visitors can enjoy rides and live entertainment. The St. Nicholas Greek Festival celebrates Greek food, music, and culture in late August at the Greek Orthodox Church.

On Labor Day weekend the Fiesta de las Flores (in its 52nd year in 2005) is held at the El Paso County Coliseum and includes games, food, arts and crafts, a car show, a children's area, and a variety of entertainment options. Mexican Independence Day is celebrated mid-September at Chamizal National Memorial, and honors Mexico's independence through song and dance.

In October, the annual Chamizal Festival celebrates the many cultural influences in the El Paso region through traditional arts and music with workshops, performances, demonstrations, and displays. Throughout October, the month-long "Celebration of Our Mountains" features events such as hikes, field trips, driving tours, nature walks, bike rides, and other activities that celebrate the Franklin Mountains. Thanksgiving Day events in El Paso include the Las Palmas Del Sol Sun Bowl Parade in downtown El Paso, and the Thanksgiving Day 5K run and 3K walk benefiting youth and teen programs at the YMCA. Ballet Folklórico Paso del Norte depicts the art and history of Mexico through dance and music at Chamizal National Memorial Theatre in late November.

For a month during late November through December, sports fans enjoy a variety of festivities related to the Vitalis Sun Bowl football game on December 31. Events include a parade, a new year's eve party, a 5K run, sports skills camps, and more. Visitors and residents enjoy the El Paso/Juárez Trolley Company's Christmas Light Tour, which circuits through the area's best-known seasonal sights at San Jacinto Plaza, the University of Texas at El Paso campus, Rim Road, Scenic Drive, and Eastwood. Holiday Lights at the Zoo features more than 200,000 lights creating a "winter wonderland" scene in the zoo throughout 10 days in December.

Sports for the Spectator

The El Paso region abounds with opportunities for sports fans to watch their favorite activities. The El Paso Diablos, a double A team affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks, have been playing since 1974; 15 of those years have been at Cohen Stadium in northeast El Paso. In a 2004 announcement, however, the Diablos will be sold and will move to Springfield, Missouri at the end of the 2004-05 season. The El Paso Patriots play indoor soccer as a Premier Development League (PDL) team. The El Paso Scorpions professional rugby team has been playing since 1979. Their home is the 5,000 seat Dudley field, the original home of the El Paso Diablos. The University of Texas at El Paso's athletics include the Miners football, soccer, track, tennis, and men's and women's basketball. The Southwestern International Livestock Show & Rodeo comes to the El Paso County Coliseum in January or February; polo is a popular spectator sport in nearby La Union, New Mexico.

Sports for the Participant

El Paso's Parks & Recreation Department maintains 175 park sites with 2,372 acres throughout the city. These parks provide 12 recreation centers, 14 city pools (8 indoor and 6 outdoor), sports and fitness programming, and senior centers. In El Paso County, Ascarate Park is the largest public-use recreational park at 448 total acres. Ascarate Park is home to a golf course, an aquatic center, and an amusement park.

Franklin Mountains State Park is the largest urban park in the nation, with 24,247 acres spanning approximately 37 miles within the city limits of El Paso. By fall 2005 the trail network will encompass 118 miles of hiking trail, with 51 miles slated for use for both hikers and mountain bikers, and 22 miles open for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The park's natural rock formations invite rock climbers to the area. After a recent $1.7 million renovation, the park's 44 picnic sites offer new shelters, picnic tables, and grills. Recently opened, the Wyler Aerial Tramway offers riders an exhilarating 4 minute gondola ride offering unmatched views of the Franklin Mountains.

The Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, 32 miles northeast of the city in El Paso County, offers some of the best rock climbing opportunities in the area. Named for its natural rock formations, the park's rock basins, or huecos, have furnished a supply of trapped rain water to travelers to the region for thousands of years. The park also features rock paintings from hunters and foragers from thousands of years ago, as well as from tribes of the not-so-distant past, including Apaches, Kiowas, and earlier groups. The pictographs include more than 200 paintings of faces left behind by the prehistoric Jornada Mogollon Culture. The park is the site of the last Indian battle in the county.

Wet n' Wild Waterworld in nearby Anthony, Texas and Western Playland Amusement Park in El Paso offer family fun and adventure.

Shopping and Dining

El Paso's three main shopping malls are Bassett Center, Sunland Park Mall, and Cielo Vista Mall. Sunland Park, the newer of the three, is located on the west side of the city and offers four anchors and a variety of popular shops and restaurants. Bassett Center has three department stores and more than 80 specialty shops. On the east side of the city, Cielo Vista Mall features 5 department stores and more than 140 specialty shops. The Mission Trail Harvest Market is a program administered by the city in partnership with the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Indian Tribe and the Texas Cooperative Extension. Open from June through October, the Market brings farm-fresh goods and handmade crafts for sale to the community. The Market operates at Zaragosa and Socorro Road, across from the Ysleta Mission.

While El Paso may have been known in the past as a place for steaks and traditional and often simple Mexican fare such as enchiladas, today's El Paso restaurants serve a variety of ethnic cuisines that reflect an even bigger variety of cultural influences. Dining in El Paso is a cultural blend drawing from Native Americans, Spanish Colonists, Mexican neighbors and residents, as well as Easterners drawn south for warmer climes. Ethnic and international restaurants include Chinese, Korean, German, Italian, and Middle Eastern, but the majority of El Paso's restaurants are steak houses, barbecue places, and Mexican restaurants. Highly popular in El Paso fare is the chile pepper, which is used in everything from eggs and chorizo (spicy sausage), to steaks, salsas, and sauces, and even on its own stuffed with cheese or meat and baked as chile rellenos.

Visitor Information: El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau, One Civic Center Plaza, El Paso, TX 79901; telephone (800)351-6024; email info@elpasocvb.com

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El Paso: Economy

El Paso: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

More than 70 Fortune 500 companies call El Paso their home, including Hoover, Eureka, Boeing, and Delphi.

El Paso is an important entry point to the U.S. from Mexico. Once a major copper refining area, chief manufacturing industries in El Paso now include food production, clothing, construction materials, electronic and medical equipment, and plastics. Cotton, fruit, vegetables, livestock, and pecans are produced in the area. With El Paso's attractive climate and natural beauty, tourism has become a booming industry as well as trade with neighboring Ciudad Juárez.

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 19,000 people between them. The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has an annual budget of nearly $250 million and employs nearly 3,600 people. A 2002 study by the university's Institute for Policy and Economic Development stated that the University's impact on local businesses has resulted in $349 million.

The military installation of Fort Bliss is a major contributor to El Paso's economy. Fort Bliss began as a Calvary post in 1848. Today, Fort Bliss is the site of the United States Army's Air Defense Center and produces approximately $80 million in products and services annually, with about $60 million of those products and services purchased locally. Fort Bliss' total economic impact on the area has been estimated at more than $1 billion, with 12,000 soldiers currently stationed at the Fort. A February 2005 article in the El Paso Times stated that as many as 20,000 troops could be arriving at Fort Bliss pending the Defense Department's removal of thousands of troops from overseas assignments. This would be in addition to 3,800 soldiers who would arrive as part of a new brigade combat team stationed at the Fort. The growth is expected to create a strong economic ripple throughout the El Paso area.

In addition to the military, the federal government has a strong presence in El Paso to manage its status and unique issues as a border region. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the U.S. Customs Service all have agency operations in El Paso to regulate traffic and goods through ports of entry from Mexico. Including these agencies, government job growth in the area is expected to rise to 64,390 jobs by 2007.

Call center operations make up 7 of the top 10 business employers in El Paso. With no signs of growth slowing in this industry, in 2005 the 14 largest call centers in El Paso employed more than 10,000 people. The largest of these in terms of employees are EchoStar, MCI/GC Services, and West Telemarketing.

Analysts in the area say that job growth in 2005 will be in the form of health care, business and trade services, international trade, and telecommunications.

Items and goods produced: petroleum, metals, medical devices, plastics, machinery, automotive parts, food, defense-related goods, tourism, boots

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

El Paso's economy is impacted significantly by the Mexican government's Maquiladora Program. Established in 1965, the program was created to help alleviate unemployment on the U.S.Mexico border by allowing non-Mexican companies to establish manufacturing operations in Mexico to produce goods for exportation. El Paso's sister city Ciudad Juárez has more than 300 such plants employing approximately 195,000 workers, many of them El Paso residents. More than 70 of the maquiladora plants established in Ciudad Juárez are owned by Fortune 500 companies operating in telecommunications, manufacturing of medical supplies, consumer appliances, electronics, and automotive parts.

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) provides assistance to new companies in screening and pre-qualifying applicants for employment to the client's specifications. TWC is also the agency for the Federal Targeted Job Tax Credits Program. The state of Texas targets many of its incentive programs toward smaller and rural communities.

Local programs

The City of El Paso gives consideration for tax abatements for projects within specified Strategic Redevelopment Zones. The Tax Abatement Policy is organized to stimulate capital investment needed for residential, retail, commercial, and industrial redevelopment within the zones.

State programs

Texas is a right-to-work state. The Texas Enterprise Zone Programs offer tax abatement at the local level, and refunds of state sales and use taxes under certain circumstances to businesses operating in enterprise zone areas. Parts of El Paso benefit from the state's designation as Foreign Trade Zone #68. The state of Texas targets many of its incentive programs toward smaller and rural communities.

El Paso is a designated United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Empowerment Zone, which provides special tax incentives and bond provisions to encourage private investment in housing development. El Paso was the only city in Texas to receive this type of designation. The Enterprise Business program and the Micro-Loan program both assist new businesses with start-up funding.

Job training programs

The Greater El Paso Chamber Foundation and a coalition of El Paso workforce development agencies partnered to develop The Center for Work-force Preparedness. The Center houses several agencies and projects, and helps custom-train workers for local businesses. The Upper Rio Grande @ Work organization provides help with recruitment, job fairs, locating tax incentive programs, researching labor and employment laws, labor market details, and other services.

On-the-Job Training allows participants to work for an employer, receive payment, and develop the skills necessary to continue working. The program provides reimbursement to the employer for up to half of the wages paid for a maximum of three months.

The Texas Workforce Commission administers the Skills Development Fund, which helps Texas community and technical colleges finance customized job-training programs for local businesses. Qualifying companies are allowed up to $1,000 per trainee.

The Advanced Technology Center at El Paso Community College provides workforce training for local industry. The College also administers programs through the Workforce Development Center, the Career Training Center, and other centers throughout its four campuses.

Development Projects

The city of El Paso has been involved in extensive improvement projects since 2000, when a plan for specific "Quality of Life Capital Improvements" was approved to span a 10-year period. New zoo facilities were completed, and still underway are plans for a new $6.65 million History Museum building (construction began in 2004), and improvements to city parks and libraries. As part of that initiative, the city's 5-year plan for capital improvements begins in 2005 and includes specific projects such as new fire stations, additional library branches, new animal care facilities, new parks and recreation facilities, further renovations and improvements to the zoo, street improvements, airport improvements, and public transportation improvements. At the end of 2009, projected spending for the 5-year improvement plan is a massive $440,924,631.

Developments completed in 2004 included a new $27.4 million, 110,000 square foot wing at Thomason Hospital. The wing generated an additional 100 high-paying jobs and expanded the number of critical care beds at the hospital from 18 to 30. The new unit includes an ambulatory surgery unit, an emergency department observation unit, a critical care unit, and a new labor and delivery unit. After $9 million in renovations, the 60-year-old El Paso County Coliseum is bringing in record revenues; additional seats and new air conditioning were part of the renovations.

Underway in 2005 were plans for a new golf course, federal courthouse, and restoration of a historic theatre. Slated for finish in 2006, the tentatively-named The Dunes at Butterfield Trail golf course will be a high-end course, designed by renowned golf course designer Tom Fazio. To be built near the airport, the course and its 8,800 square foot clubhouse will cost $11 million. Construction is expected to start in 2005 on the new downtown courthouse, with a budget of $63.4 million. The 8-story, 235,000 square foot courthouse will be built on two city blocks. Plans to restore the city's historic Plaza Theatre, at a cost of $25 million, began in 2005. An adjacent building will become the theatre's annex and will be converted into a restaurant on the first floor and a performing arts center, seating about 195 people, on the second floor.

Construction projects to the tune of $50 million were underway in 2005 at University of Texas at El Paso, including a new academic services building, biosciences building, a softball complex, an expansion of the engineering building, and a new research and business development complex. Projects in the planning stages in early 2005 include a new 5-level garage.

Economic Development Information: City of El Paso Department of Economic Development, 2 Civic Center Plaza, El Paso, TX 79901; telephone (915)533-4284; fax (915)541-1316

Commercial Shipping

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, El Paso is the nation's "fifth busiest land border gateway by value for imports and exports transported across the border by highways, railroads, and pipelines." In 2003, $39 billion in merchandise trade passed through El Paso. Trucks carry most of the freight passing through the city, followed by rail. The Union Pacific Railway provides intermodal and other services to Los Angeles, Chicago, and Dallas. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad also travels to Los Angeles and Chicago. El Paso's position as an international gateway means it is a major thoroughfare for imports and exports.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

In 1994, half of El Paso's 50,000 manufacturing jobs were in the apparel and textile industry. Due to the devaluation of the Mexican peso in 1994, several large apparel manufacturers relocated over the border to Mexico, taking jobs with them. Growth in other areas have made up for this decline, however, as El Paso's job growth continues to rise after a rocky beginning to the 21st century. Still, El Paso's unemployment rate remains higher than the national average.

El Paso's labor force has shown a steady growth over the past decade. International trade in the region, stimulated by the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) and the Mexican Maquiladora Program, has helped to ensure El Paso's success in the global economy. Jobs in globalization and information technology are helping to revitalize the area economy after its past dependency on ever-reducing manufacturing jobs. A 2002 study estimated that local employment for the El Paso MSA was expected to grow to 278,056 by 2006, or a compound annual growth rate of 1.52 percent over that 5-year period.

The following is a summary of data regarding the El Paso metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 254,900

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 11,900

manufacturing: 26,500

trade, transportation and utilities: 55,000

information: 5,400

financial activities: 12,000

professional and business services: 25,000

educational and health services: 28,600

leisure and hospitality: 23,500

other services: 7,500

government: 59,500

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $13.98 (statewide)

Unemployment rate: 7.7% (December 2004)

Largest county employers Number of employees
El Paso Independent School District 8,663
Fort Bliss (civilian employees) 6,803
Ysleta Independent School District 6,500
City of El Paso 6,264
University of Texas at El Paso 4,871
Socorro Independent School District 3,995
Sierra Providence Health Network 3,761
El Paso Community College 3,728
Wal-Mart 3,706
County of El Paso 2,700
Las Palmas and Del Sol Regional Health Care System 2,244
Echostar Satellite Corp. 2,012

Cost of Living

El Paso's cost of living, as well as its housing prices, are slightly below the national average.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the El Paso area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $205,450

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 90.6%

State income tax rate: none

State sales tax rate: 6.25%

Local income tax rate: none

Local sales tax rate: 1.0% (city) and .5% (county)

Property tax rate: $.719833 per $100 assessed value (2002) (City of El Paso only)

Economic Information: Office of Economic Development, City of El Paso, 2 Civic Center Plaza, 1st Floor, El Paso, TX 79901; telephone (915)533-4284; fax (915)541-1316

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El Paso: Education and Research

El Paso: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

El Paso County is served by nine school districts. Of those nine, El Paso city public schools are divided into three districts: the El Paso Independent School District, Ysleta Independent School District, and Socorro Independent School District. The El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) is the largest, educating 62,000 students in 88 buildings. The EPISD offers three magnet programs: the new Capt. John L. Chapin High School, an engineering and science magnet school, is the only public high school built on military land in the U.S.; Silva Health Magnet's curriculum focuses on health and sciences; the new (2003) Academy for International Business and Public Affairs at Bowie High School in South El Paso focuses on international business and public affairs education.

The Ysleta Independent School District (YISD) is the second largest in the area, educating 50,000 students in 58 buildings. In the mid-1980's, YISD operated at state minimum levels. With effort and determination by administration, teachers, and families, the district accomplished a major turnaround which culminated in 1998 when the district was named a "Recognized District" for state testing performance. Since then, nine of the district's schools have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools; eight others are National Title One Distinguished Campuses.

Though large in its own right, the Socorro Independent School District is the smallest district of the three and educates more than 30,000 students in southeastern El Paso County. In 2004 more than 82 percent of the district's high school graduates were bound for college.

The following is a summary of data regarding the El Paso Independent School District public schools as of the 20042005 school year.

Total enrollment: 62,000

Number of facilities elementary schools: 57

junior high/middle schools: 15

senior high schools: 11

other: 7 (3 magnet schools, 1 alternative school, 1 at-risk recovery program, 1 adult education school, 1 occupational center

Student/teacher ratio: 16.1:1 (2005)

Teacher salaries (2004-05)

minimum: $34,000

maximum: $55,705

Funding per pupil: $6,627

More than 25 parochial and 50 private schools educate El Paso students. Many of El Paso's private schools have received national awards: Loretto Academy for girls and St. Clement's Episcopal Parish School are both recipients of the Blue Ribbon award, a prestigious standing for high-performing schools. Other private schools offer technical programs, specialized programs, or mechanical education.

Colleges and Universities

Four major institutions of higher learning are located in the El Paso region. They offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, business, science, education, health sciences, and liberal arts; and associate degrees and certificate programs in technology.

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) prides itself on its status as the only major research university in the country with the majority of its students being predominately Mexican American. UTEP celebrated its 90th birthday in 2004. From its humble beginnings in 1914 as a small mining school, UTEP is now a recognized institution with an enrollment of more than 18,900 students and a $50 million building and expansion budget. UTEP ranks second in the nation of schools awarding undergraduate degrees to Hispanics.

Established in 1969, El Paso Community College (EPCC) has 5 campuses throughout El Paso and educates approximately 28,000 credit and continuing education students each semester. With 130 academic programs, 350 enrichment and continuing education courses, and a commitment to innovation in educational programs, EPCC is the fastest growing community college in the state.

In nearby Las Cruces, New Mexico, New Mexico State University educates 16,000 students, many of which are El Paso residents. Both the University of Phoenix and Webster University operate campuses in El Paso. Another regional educational institution is Howard Payne University extension campus. Texas Tech University's Health Sciences Center at El Paso confers degrees in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and in biomedical and allied health sciences.

Libraries and Research Centers

The El Paso Public Library operates a main library, 11 branches, a bookmobile, and a literacy center. In December 2004 the main library closed for expansion and renovation with an expected completion date of late 2005. The expansion will add 45,000 square feet, bringing the library's total square footage to 110,000. The newly-renovated facility will also have a new 250-seat auditorium, a 50-station computer lab and classroom, an expanded children's area, and a new area for teenagers called "Teen Town." As part of the city's Quality of Life Improvement Program, many of the system's branch libraries are undergoing renovations and expansions between 2000 and 2009.

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, including 200,000 government documents, in its 6-floor, 275,000 square foot facility. The library sits atop a hill and is built in the Bhutanese style of architecture, like of many of the university's structures.

Other libraries include the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Library at El Paso, the El Paso Community College library system, and the El Paso Scottish Rite Historical Library and Museum.

The University of Texas at El Paso's research facilities sponsored projects with expenditures of $52 million in 2003. The National Institutes of Health recently awarded UTEP and the University of Texas Houston Health Science Center more than $4 million to establish the Hispanic Health Disparities Research Center at the UTEP campus. Other research centers at UTEP include the Border Biomedical Research Center, the Center for Environmental Resource Management, the Center for Transportation Infrastructure Sytems, the Institute for Manufacturing and Materials Management, the Materials Research and Technology Institute, and the W.M. Keck Border Biomedical Manufacturing and Engineering Laboratory. New research centers on tap for development in 2005 include the Paso del Norte Research and Business Development Complex, which will house four new research facilities focusing on policy and economic development, economic forecasting, science, and entrepreneur development.

Public Library Information: El Paso Public Library, 501 N. Oregon, El Paso, TX; telephone (915)543-5401

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El Paso: History

El Paso: History

Spanish Lay Claim Over a Vast Land

Inhabited for centuries by various Indian groups, El Paso saw its first Europeans when Spaniards passed through in the mid-1500s. During 1540 to 1542, an expedition under Francisco Vázquez de Coronado explored the area now known as the American Southwest. These earliest Spanish explorers saw on their approach from the Rio Grande two mountain ranges rising from the desert, with a deep chasm between. They named the site "El Paso del Norte, " or "the Pass of the North." The Rodríguez-Sánchez expedition in 1581 was the first party of Spaniards to explore the Pass of the North, bringing about the beginning of El Paso's modern history. Further expeditions followed, culminating in an April 30, 1598 ceremony near the site of present-day San Elizario in which expedition leader Juan de Oñate took formal possession of the territory drained by the Rio del Norte (now the Rio Grande). Called "La Toma," (the claiming) this act brought Spanish civilization to the Pass of the North, laying the foundation for more than two centuries of Spanish rule.

Population of the area grew when the Pueblo Indian Revolt of 1680 sent Spanish colonists and Tigua Indians of New Mexico southward in search of safety. By 1682, five settlements were thriving on the south bank of the Rio Grande. By the middle of the eighteenth century, approximately 5,000 people populated the El Paso area; among them were Spaniards, mestizos, and Indians. The region became known for its vineyards, with residents producing wine and brandy. In 1789, the presidio of San Elizario was founded to defend the El Paso settlements against encroaching Apaches.

Spanish Rule Ends, Tensions Begin

With Mexico's independence from Spain in 1821, the entire El Paso area became part of Mexico. Agriculture and commerce flourished, but the unpredictable levels of the Rio Grande made for difficulties with crops, fields, and structures frequently damaged by the rising water levels. In the 1830s, the river flooded much of the lower Rio Grande valley, creating a new channel and displacing several towns.

May 1846 saw more difficulties as hostilities erupted between the United States and Mexico. During the Mexican War, Col. Alexander Doniphan and a force of American volunteers defeated Mexican fighters at the battle of Brazito, entering El Paso del Norte. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848, ended the dispute and again changed the boundary between the two nations, bringing El Paso territory under the blanket of the United States.

El Paso's settlements grew in 1849 as easterners rushed west in search of gold. Lines between Mexico and the United States were revised yet again; this time the three Mexican towns of Ysleta, Socorro, and San Elizario ended up on the United States side of the line. The military post of Fort Bliss was established in 1858; one year later pioneer Anson Mills completed his plat of the town of El Paso. The name "El Paso" brought about confusion with the Mexican town across the Rio Grande, El Paso del Norte, so the Mexican town's name was changed to Ciudad Juárez in 1888.

During the Civil War, El Paso's alliance was to the South, though the Union presided and local Southern sympathizers eventually received pardons. In 1877, Texans and Mexicans became embroiled in a bitter civil war, the Salt War of San Elizario, which lasted six months.

A Modern City Emerges

A rail system was established through the area in 188182, which transformed the village into a lively frontier community with a growing population. El Paso's early years are tinted by a colorful reputation from its many saloons, brothels, and high crime. By 1890 citizens were demanding reform, and by 1905 El Paso ordinances banned gambling and prostitution. At the turn of the century El Paso's frontier image was fading and its fresh start as a modern city began. The population grew from 15,906 in 1900 to 77,560 in just 25 years. Refugees of the Mexican Revolution contributed to the city's growth, as did burgeoning commercial, industrial, agricultural, and transportation business, along with El Paso's strategic location as a gateway to Mexico. Prohibition boosted the city's tourism as neighboring residents flocked to El Paso to cross the border for drinking and gambling in Juárez.

In 1930 census reports showed 102,421 residents in El Paso, though the city's growth began to slow soon after with the census reporting only 96,810 residents in 1940. After the war, development brought new residents and the 1950 census once again showed growth, with 130,003 people living in El Paso. Fort Bliss grew as well in the 1940s and 1950s. The 1960 census saw a doubling of residents; steady growth continued and by 1970 the population was 339,615. El Paso's population grew again when the city absorbed the Mexican town of Isleta, stretching the reaches of the metropolitan area even further. By the mid-1980s, Fort Bliss' military personnel and family members made up nearly a quarter of the city's population. Petroleum, textiles, tourism, metals, cement, and food processing became major industries by the 1980s.

Since 1990 El Paso's economy has suffered from competition with low labor rates from abroad and the closure of its main copper smelter. As well, El Paso has the unpleasant distinction of being one of the main entry points for drug smuggling into the United States, an attribute that has plagued the area for decades. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) passage helped local service and transportation firms to expand their businesses, but hurt the city's industrial industry. Since El Paso is sensitive to changes in Mexico's economy, the devaluation of the Mexican peso in the 1990s and the border traffic controls instituted after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks both affected El Paso's economy. Still, the area is recovering from these incidences, and the El Paso of today consists of a rich mix of culture with a strong military presence and the excitement of a border town. The El Paso-Juárez international metropolitan area is the largest bi-national community on an international border in the world.

Historical Information: Texas State Historical Association, 1 University Station D0901, Austin, TX 78712-0332; telephone (512)471-1525; fax (512)471-1551

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El Paso

EL PASO

EL PASO, a city in west Texas, is located on the Rio Grande. The city's history and development are linked to that of its sister city, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico (originally named El Paso del Norte). El Paso has been a principal entry point for immigrants from Mexico as well as other countries since 1900. Indigenous people first inhabited the area ten thousand years ago. In the 1500s, several Spanish explorers passed through the region. The first Spanish settlement gained its name, Paso del Norte, because it was a natural passageway across the river on the way north. In 1659, Franciscans established a mission, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, on what is now the Mexican side of the river. Following the Mexican-American War (1846–1848), the new border between Mexico and the United States divided the settlement. In 1873, the American settlement of El Paso was incorporated as a city. Following the coming of the railroads in 1881, the economy developed quickly. Agriculture, mining, and manufacturing formed the foundation of the economy. In the twentieth century, El Paso became an important manufacturing and commercial center. Following the creation of the maquiladora (twin plant) industry in 1965 and the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, El Paso's economic ties to Mexico grew. In 2000, 24 percent of border trade to Mexico, representing over $17 billion, passed through El Paso. The population of El Paso increased from 428 in 1860 to 563,662 in 2001. Seventy-seven percent of the population was Latino, 63 percent of Mexican descent. The total metro population, including Ciudad Juárez, was 1,897,440 in 2001.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Garcia, Mario T. Desert Immigrants: The Mexicans of El Paso,1880–1920. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1981.

Martinez, Oscar J. Border Boom Town: Ciudad Juárez since 1848. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1978.

Timmons, W. H. El Paso: A Borderlands History. El Paso: University of Texas at El Paso, 1990.

Yolanda ChávezLeyva

See alsoMexico, Relations with ; North American Free Trade Agreement ; Texas .

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El Paso: Population Profile

El Paso: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 479,899

1990: 591,610

2000: 679,622

Percent change, 19902000: 14.9%

U.S. rank in 2000: 64th

City Residents

1980: 425,259

1990: 515,342

2000: 563,662

2003 estimate: 584,113

Percent change, 19902000: 9.4%

U.S. rank in 2000: 22 (State rank: 5th)

Density: 2,263 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 413,061

Black or African American: 17,586

American Indian and Alaska Native: 4,601

Asian: 6,321

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 583

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 431,875

Other: 102,320

Percent of residents born in state: 54.3% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Poplation under 5 years old: 47,646

Poplation 5 to 9 years old: 50,170

Poplation 10 to 14 years old: 47,996

Poplation 15 to 19 years old: 46,858

Poplation 20 to 24 years old: 38,564

Poplation 25 to 34 years old: 80,568

Poplation 35 to 44 years old: 83,703

Poplation 45 to 54 years old: 65,808

Poplation 55 to 59 years old: 22,636

Poplation 60 to 64 years old: 19,592

Population 65 to 74 years old: 35,041

Poplation 75 to 84 years old: 19,279

Population 85 years and older: 5,801

Median age: 31.1 years

Births (2001, El Paso County)

Total number: 14,189

Deaths (2001, El Paso County)

Total number: 4,035 (of which, 66 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $14,388

Median household income: $32,124

Total households: 182,237

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 25,341

$10,000 to $14,999: 15,622

$15,000 to $24,999: 30,009

$25,000 to $34,999: 26,661

$35,000 to $49,999: 30,185

$50,000 to $74,999: 29,283

$75,000 to $99,999: 12,585

$100,000 to $149,999: 8,127

$150,000 to $199,999: 1,946

$200,000 or more: 2,478

Percent of families below poverty level: 19.0% (51.2% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 26,998

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El Paso: Communications

El Paso: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

El Paso's major daily newspaper is the El Paso Times. The Prospector is a weekly newspaper published by the University of Texas at El Paso. Twin Plant News, a magazine covering manufacturing and business in Mexico, is published in El Paso, as well as NOVA Quarterly, a quarterly magazine published by the University of Texas at El Paso.

Television and Radio

El Paso is served by eight television stations, of which four are affiliated with the major commercial networks, two with public broadcasting, and one with Spanish-language Univision. The city's five AM and eight FM radio stations broadcast a variety of programs, including sports, talk, religious, country, rock, and Hispanic programming.

Media Information: El Paso Times, PO Box 20, El Paso, TX 79999; telephone (800)351-1677

El Paso Online

City of El Paso. Available www.ci.el-paso.tx.us

County of El Paso. Available www.co.el-paso.tx.us

El Paso: A Guestlife Destination Guide. Available www.guestlife.com/elpaso

El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available www.elpasocvb.com

El Paso Independent School District. Available www.episd.org

El Paso International Airport. Available www.elpasointernationalairport.com/index.htm

El Paso Public Library. Available www.elpasotexas.gov/library

El Paso Scene. Available wwwcene.com

El Paso Times. Available www.elpasotimes.com

Fort Bliss. Available www.bliss.army.mil

Texas State Historical Association. Available www.tsha.utexas.edu

University of Texas at El Paso. Available www.utep.edu

Selected Bibliography

Metz, Leon C., City at the Pass: An Illustrated History of El Paso (Woodland Hills, California: Windsor, 1980)

Sonnichsen, C.L., Pass of the North: Four Centuries on the Rio Grande (2 vols., El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1968, 1980)

Timmons, W.H. ed., Four Centuries at the Pass ( El Paso: Guynes Printing, 1980)

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El Paso: Transportation

El Paso: Transportation

Approaching the City

The El Paso International Airport offers passenger services and air cargo services and is the gateway to West Texas, southern New Mexico, and northern Mexico. El Paso International Airport is served by American Airlines, AeroLitoral, Frontier, America West, Continental, Delta, Southwest, and United, and provides an average of 136 daily arrivals and departures. In 2003 the airport served 2,910,663 customers and transported 81,922 tons of cargo. The airport was recently expanded, adding two 144,000 square foot air cargo buildings, more than 34 acres of aircraft parking, and an additional 6.4 miles of roadways. Once a thriving Air Force Base, Biggs Army Airfield lies adjacent to the El Paso International Airport and boasts more miles of runway than any Army airfield in the world. Now part of Fort Bliss, the airfield is used for Army exercises and refueling.

Two major highways transport drivers in, out, and through El Paso: I-10 runs east and west, and Highway 54 runs north and south; Highway 375 loops around the outskirts of the city, through Fort Bliss, and close to downtown. Several bus lines offer service to and from El Paso, and Amtrak provides passenger rail service west to California and east as far as Florida.

Traveling in the City

The Franklin Mountains literally split the city of El Paso down the middle, creating what El Pasoans call the city's east and the west sides. The Rio Grande flows along the city's southern edge. The city is laid out around these two natural features. Sun Metro provides bus and trolley service throughout the city, with 51 weekday routes, 41 Saturday routes, and 38 Sunday routes.

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El Paso

El Paso (ĕl pă´sō), city (1990 pop. 515,342), seat of El Paso co., extreme W Tex., on the Rio Grande opposite Juárez, Mex.; inc. 1873. In a region of cattle ranches and cotton and vegetable farms (irrigated from the Elephant Butte Reservoir), the city is a port of entry and a commercial, industrial, financial, and mining center. Among the city's diverse products are refined petroleum, processed metals, foodstuffs, machinery, and boots. Fort Bliss, a U.S. military installation and air defense center, is a major employer. The city is the seat of the Univ. of Texas at El Paso, and has an art museum and a zoo. Franklin Mountains State Park, with its tramway, is within El Paso. The area's dry warmth also attracts tourists and seasonal winter residents.

One of the largest of the border cities (and said to be the world's busiest border crossing), El Paso is a blend of the United States and Mexico, its history closely linked to that of Juárez. The region was once known as El Paso del Norte, for the route through the mountains from Mexico to the north. In the 16th and 17th cent. missionaries, soldiers, and traders came here. Although missions were founded at Ysleta and elsewhere north of the river, the major settlement was on the south (Juárez) bank. Not until 1827 was the first house built on the site of El Paso. After the U.S.-Mexican border was set, settlement increased, and the coming of the railroad in 1881 prefaced the arrival of cowboys, exiles, border traders, and adventurers. As a result of the settlement in 1963 of the Chamizal border dispute, a small area of El Paso was transferred to Mexico.

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El Paso: Health Care

El Paso: Health Care

El Paso's 9 hospitals, with approximately 2,200 beds total, serve the general public and the military in El Paso and bordering areas of Mexico. The Las Palmas Regional Healthcare System's facilities include the Las Palmas Medical Center and Heart Institute hospital, the Rehabilitation Hospital, the Life Care Center, the Regional Oncology and Wound Management Center, the Diabetes Treatment Center, and the Del Sol Medical Center. Specialties include women's and children's services, oncology, heart health, and surgical services. In late 2004 Las Palmas broke ground on a new building that will house an expanded emergency room and intensive care unit. Opened in 2004, the system's new Rehabilitation Hospital is a 40-bed center specializing in treatment of strokes, spinal cord injuries, and other orthopedic or neurological diagnosis.

The Sierra Providence Health Network operates three hospitals consisting of two acute care hospitals (Sierra Medical Center and Providence Memorial Hospital) and a physical rehabilitation hospital (Rio Vista Physical Rehabilitation Hospital), with a total of 927 beds. Other centers include the Border Children's Health Center and the Sierra Teen Health Resource Center.

Thomason Hospital serves El Paso and neighboring Ciudad residents with its location directly on the U.S.-Mexico border. Part of the Texas Tech University's School of Medicine, the hospital is a teaching facility with 335 beds. The William Beaumont Army Medical Center specializes in trauma care and is one of the largest U.S. Army general hospitals in the country.

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El Paso

El Paso

El Paso: Introduction
El Paso: Geography and Climate
El Paso: History
El Paso: Population Profile
El Paso: Municipal Government
El Paso: Economy
El Paso: Education and Research
El Paso: Health Care
El Paso: Recreation
El Paso: Convention Facilities
El Paso: Transportation
El Paso: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1598 (incorporated 1873)

Head Official: Mayor Joe Wardy (since 2003)

City Population

1980: 425,259

1990: 515,342

2000: 563,662

2003 estimate: 584,113

Percent change, 19902000: 9.4%

U.S. rank in 2000: 22 (State rank: 5th)

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 479,899

1990: 591,610

2000: 679,622

Percent change, 19902000: 14.9%

U.S. rank in 2000: 64th

Area: 249 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Average 3,762 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 63.3° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 8.81 inches

Major Economic Sectors: agriculture, clothing, oil, retail, military

Unemployment rate: 7.7% (December 2004)

Per Capita Income: $14,388 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 26,998

Major Colleges and Universities: University of Texas at

El Paso, El Paso Community College, New Mexico State University, and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

Daily Newspaper: El Paso Times

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El Paso: Introduction

El Paso: Introduction

The county seat of El Paso County, El Paso is located on the far western edge of Texas on the north bank of the Rio Grande. At Mexico's border, El Paso and its Mexican sister city, Ciudad Juárez (in Chihuahua, Mexico), have downtowns that are within walking distance from one another. The fertile valley and surrounding mountains of El Paso del Norte (the Pass of the North), christened by Don Juan de Oñate in 1598, was the first all-weather pass through the Rockies. El Paso is a major transportation hub and is known for its cutting-edge medical facilities, top educational institutions, year-round recreation, vibrant cultural and entertainment life, and favorable cost of living. El Paso boasts a diverse population, with a majority of its residents speaking both English and Spanish. El Paso attracts new residents with its favorable weather, tax rates, comparably low cost of living, and multiple educational opportunities. United States Army Air Defense Center, Fort Bliss, has made El Paso its home for nearly 150 years. The fourth (in 2005) largest city in Texas, El Paso is the 22nd largest city in the U.S. and the country's third fastest-growing metropolitan area.

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El Paso: Convention Facilities

El Paso: Convention Facilities

The El Paso Convention & Performing Arts Center's Judson F. Williams Convention Center was remodeled and expanded in May 2002. The new center features three halls, 80,000 square feet of exhibit space, and 14,900 square feet of meeting space in 17 meeting rooms. Its Mt. Franklin Lobby offers 23,300 square feet of additional exhibit space. The Abraham Chavez Theatre in the Center features an 800 square foot meeting room and theatre seating for 2,500 people.

Across the street from the Convention Center, the Camino Real El Paso has 19 meeting rooms and 36,000 square feet of meeting space that can accommodate groups of up to 1,300. Listed in the National Historic Register, the Camino Real El Paso was established in 1912 and boasts crystal chandeliers, a Tiffany cut-glass dome, and "the most photographed grand staircase in the Southwest." Other El Paso hotels offer 7,000 rooms total throughout the city.

Convention Information: El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau, One Civic Center Plaza, El Paso, TX 79901; telephone (800)351-6024; email info@elpasocvb.com

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El Paso: Municipal Government

El Paso: Municipal Government

El Paso operates under a mayor-council form of government. The mayor is elected every four years; the eight council members are also elected and serve staggered twoor four-year terms. The city manager oversees operations. Residents, who are appointed by the council or the mayor, serve as volunteers on a variety of boards and commissions that help to steer the direction of municipal issues.

Head Official: Mayor Joe Wardy (since 2003; current term expires May 2007)

Total Number of City Employees: 6,500 (2005)

City Information: City of El Paso, 2 Civic Center Plaza, El Paso, TX, 79901; telephone (915)541-4000

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El Paso: Geography and Climate

El Paso: Geography and Climate

Located in the westernmost corner of Texas, El Paso resides in the Chihuahuan Desert at the confluence of Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico, nestled between the Franklin Mountains and the Rio Grande. With only about 8 inches of precipitation per year, a summer high of 95 degrees and mild winter temperatures, El Paso residents enjoy sun about 300 days of the year.

Area: 249 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Average 3,762 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 42.8° F; July, 82.3° F; annual average, 63.3° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 8.81 inches

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El Paso

El Pasobasso, El Paso, Picasso, Sargasso, Tasso •fatso, paparazzo, terrazzo •Brasso •espresso, gesso •intermezzo, mezzo •scherzo •peso, say-so •calypso, dipso •schizo • Mato Grosso • torso • also •amoroso, capriccioso, oloroso, so-so •Caruso, Robinson Crusoe, Rousseau, trousseau •so-and-so •Curaçao, curassow •Thurso, verso

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