Downtown El Paso, El Paso
Downtown El Paso
This historic downtown looks really historic – the buildings echo the past (somewhat Spanish colonial) and 1950’s kind mixed up altogether in a vibrant Hispanic community. I saw about 5 Hispanic men all wearing their cowboy hats --- so I also was wearing mine which I got all the way from Bogota, Colombia (hehehe- try to beat that good Colombian leather).
Everything does seem to be conveniently located --- we bought our drinks from a little grocery store. There were so many tempting Mexican breakfast eateries, but we already had breakfast…too bad.
As we were passing the stores, I did see the prices of kid shirts at less than $5!
El Paso downtown consists of three parts of which only the first one is worth of seeing on foot, the other two parts have a few attractions to see but walking there is not a fan in my opinion:
1. The compact oldest part (El Paso Street, Overland and San Antonio Avenue) with 1 to 3-story old and mostly pretty renovated buildings, shops, restaurants and cute old-style street lamps.
2. Modern part around Civic Center Plaza with museums, theater, library etc. (read my next tip)
3. The typical American city with a few high rise buildings which form city skyline.
Other tourist attractions are located outside downtown in numerous, sometimes very far, neighborhoods and you have to drive there or use public transportation to get there.
Most travellers pass through El Paso without stopping to look around. They are missing our special culture and sights. Our core city is undergoing revitalization. If you like museums, we have the History Museum, Insights Science Museum, E.P. Art Museum and developing Holocaust Museum. The Civic Center has sweeping architecture and cross-border trollies. Nearby, the Union Plaza includes an old railroad depot. The expanded central library includes a superb regional research center. The City-County Courthouse mirrors the city and has fine views. Shop in discount and specialty stores that also cater to the Mexican shopper. Two central bridges handle border crossings for autos and pedestrians in and out of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The Rio Grande (River) is the border and is thoroughly tamed in concrete. There are many restaurants and some hotels downtown. I'm sure that I forgot more to do. Your views may include the Franklin Mountains that approach us from the North.
The El Paso Laundry and Cleaners Company was originally established in 1891 and moved to it's location at S Sante Fe Street and Montestruc Court in 1897. The building is strategically located alongside the Rio Grande, just a few meters from the streets of Ciudad Juarez. The company has played an interesting role in several international events, including the 1909 meeting between then Presidents William Howard Taft and Porfirio Diaz. When Diaz crossed the Rio Grande, over the Santa Fe Bridge, he arrived at the front of the Laundry to meet Taft and was welcomed by enthusiastic crowds, receiving a twenty-one gun salute.
Two years later, as the fighting in the Mexican Revolution moved north to the border, the Laundry building's large, flat roof served as an observation deck, providing journalists and spectators with sweeping views of the fighting across the river, particularly during the Battle of Ciudad Juarez in May 1911.
The El Paso Museum of History is a huge facility showing 400 years of El Paso history through artifacts, images, and documents. The museum is located in the downtown Cultural District. Hours are 9 AM to 5 PM Tuesday through Saturday (extended hours to 9 PM on Thursday) and 12 PM to 5 PM Sunday. Admission is free.
The Railroad & Transportation Museum is a treasure trove for the railroad buff. It houses a wide variety of displays about railroads in war and peace, urban transit, the 2nd line across the US, and an old "440" locomotive from 1857. Hours are 11 AM to 5 PM Tuesday through Saturday and 1 PM to 5 PM Sunday. Admission is free.
Lynx hosts a variety of revolving, changing exhibits. When I was in El Paso it featured a multidiscipline exhibit about the “Supercroc” which lived 110 million years ago and fought dinosaurs for supremacy. This is a very interesting museum! Hours are 10 AM to 6 PM Tuesday through Saturday and 12 PM to 6 PM on Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults; $8 for students and military with ID; $6 for children 4 to 11; and children under 3 are free.