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  • El Chuco
  • El Chuco<ref name="http://www.uapress.arizona.edu/BOOKS/bid1654.htm"></ref>
  • Land of the Sun
  • Star of the Southwest
  • The Star City of Texas
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El Paso

City of El Paso

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  Summary  

El Paso, is a city in and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States, and lies in far West Texas. In the 2010 census, the city had a population of 649,121. It is the sixth largest city in Texas and the 19th largest city in the United States. Its metropolitan area covers all of El Paso County, whose population in the 2010 census was 800,647.

El Paso stands on the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte), across the border from Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. The image to the right shows Downtown El Paso and Juárez, with the Juárez Mountains in the background. The two cities form a combined international metropolitan area, sometimes called Juarez-El Paso, with Juárez being the significantly larger of the two in population. Together they have a combined population of 2 million, with Juárez accounting for 2/3 of the population. In 2010 El Paso was awarded an All-America City Award, the oldest community recognition program in the United States.

El Paso is home to the University of Texas at El Paso and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso. Fort Bliss, one of the largest military complexes of the United States Army, lies to the east and northeast of the city, with training areas extending north into New Mexico, up to the White Sands Missile Range and neighboring Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo. The Franklin Mountains extend into El Paso from the north and nearly divide the city into two sections, the western half forming the beginnings of the Mesilla Valley and with the eastern slopes connecting in the central business district at the south end of the mountain range.

  History  

The El Paso region has had human settlement for thousands of years, as evidenced by Folsom points from hunter-gatherers found at Hueco Tanks. 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 in the area, along with immigrants from central Mexico, captives from Comanchería, and genízaros of various ethnic groups. The Mescalero Apache roamed the region as well.

Spanish explorer Don Juan de Oñate was the first European explorer known to have arrived at the Rio Grande near El Paso, in 1598, celebrating Thanksgiving Mass there on April 30, 1598 (several decades before the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving). However, it is thought that the 4 survivors of the Narváez expedition passed through the area in the mid-1530s. El Paso del Norte (the present day Ciudad Juárez), was founded on the south bank of the Río Bravo del Norte, in 1659 by Spanish conquistadors. In 1680 the small village of El Paso became the base for Spanish governance of the territory of New Mexico, remaining the largest settlement in New Mexico until its cession to the US in 1848, when Texas took it in 1850.

Present day El Paso City largely remained undeveloped during most of Spanish control. Instead, Spanish settlement was centered on El Paso del Norte (the present day Ciudad Juárez). Although, the Spanish Crown and the local authorities of El Paso del Norte had made several land concessions to bring agricultural production to the northern bank of the river in present day El Paso City, continual Indian raids and warfare overwhelmed any attempts. The Apache Wars and subsequent Comanche Wars left northern Mexico, then including present day New Mexico, Texas, Coahuila, in a state of perpetual instability. Consequently, present day Juárez remained the northern-most villa with the Río Bravo del Norte, and Apache attacks dissuading settlement and development north. The water of the river, the sand dunes to the south (médanos) and the fortifications at Paso del Norte and El Real de San Lorenzo, provided a natural defense against further raids although in some decades several thousand strong Apache armies made raids deep into Mexico, slaughtering the male population and enslaving the women and children. As a result, the Rio Grande proved a boundary line of actual Hispanic presence.

Nonetheless, in the early years of Spanish power, several attempts were made which successfully colonized areas north for some decades. Being a grassland then, the Hispanic civilian and military population, and the small community of Spanish friars and their Amerindian wards ranched the area and developed small scale but successful agriculture consisting of vineyards and fruits. However, in 1680, after the successful Pueblo Revolt that decimated the Spanish colonies in northern New Mexico, Paso del Norte became the base for Spanish governance of the territory of New Mexico with the present-day El Paso remaining a neutral battle-ground. From El Paso, the Spaniards led by Diego de Vargas, grouped to recolonize the Spanish territory centered on Santa Fe stretching from Socorro to Taos. The Bourbon reforms of the eighteenth century affected the Paso del Norte region, as New Spain's enlightened bureaucrats deemed the region—with a thriving population of over 10,000 by mid-century—capable of self-defense. Viceregal troops garrisoned in the Presidio of Paso del Norte were redeployed elsewhere on New Spain's frontier. New policies of Indian gifting helped to stabilize relations with the Apaches and Comanches, providing a respite to El Paso's agriculturalist population.

With the Mexican Constitution of 1824, part of present-day El Paso became the southernmost locality of the Territorio de Nuevo Mexico and part of the newly-established state of Chihuahua. It communicated with Santa Fe and Mexico City by the Royal Road . American spies, traders and fur trappers visited the area since 1804 and some intermarried with the area's Hispanic elite, as occurred with fur trapper, miner, and merchant Hugh Stephenson (1798–1870). Although there was no combat in the region during the Mexican Independence, Paso del Norte experienced the negative effects it had on its wine trade.

The Texas Revolution was not felt in the region as the area was never considered part of Texas until 1848. As early as the mid 1840s, alongside long extant Hispanic settlements such as the Rancho de Juan María Ponce de León, Anglo settlers like Simeon Hart and Hugh Stephenson began to establish themselves. 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. 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 thirty-second parallel, thus largely ignoring history and topography. A military post called The Post opposite El Paso 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.

During the Civil War, there was a Confederate presence 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.

After the war was concluded, the town's population began to grow. El Paso was incorporated in 1873 and encompassed the small area communities that had developed along the river. 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 attracting newcomers ranging from businessmen and priests, to gunfighters and prostitutes. El Paso became a violent and wild boomtown known as the "Six Shooter Capital" because of its lawlessness. 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). The city developed into the premier manufacturing, transportation, and retail center of the U.S. Southwest.

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. The population exceeded 100,000. The Jesuit Order established a network of schools catering to the children of the Mexican community, and the large number of refugee floating population was attended by various philanthropic organizations, including the National Catholic Welfare Fund.

Mining and other industries gradually developed in the area. The El Paso and Northeastern Railway was chartered in 1897, in order to help exploit the natural resources of surrounding ares, especially in southeastern New Mexico Territory. The Arizona and Southeastern Railroad was slowly extended towards El Paso , in order to allow the construction of a second copper refinery in El Paso to refine copper ore being produced in Arizona and southwestern New Mexico by Phelps Dodge. In 1901, the Arizona and Southeastern was re-named the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad, and the tracks finally reached El Paso in 1902. The 1920s and 1930s saw the emergence of major business development in the city partially enabled by Prohibition era bootlegging. The Depression era hit the city hard and population declined through the end of World War II. Following the war, military expansion in the area as well as oil discoveries in the Permian Basin helped to cause rapid economic expansion in the mid 1900s. Copper smelting, oil refining, and the proliferation of low wage industries led the city's growth. The expansion slowed again in the 1960s but the city has continued to grow in large part because of the increased importance of trade with Mexico.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "El Paso", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.