10 Things You May Not Know about El Paso
El Paso, a city in extreme western Texas, is the seat of El Paso county, 636 miles (1,018 km) west of Dallas. Situated on the north bank of the Rio Grande across from the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez, El Paso is the largest city on the border between the United States and Mexico and is an important port of entry. It has a population of 672,538 (2012). Here are 10 things you may not know about El Paso:
1. El Paso is a manufacturing and commercial center situated in an area of mines, oil fields, livestock ranches, and farms.
2. The city's diversified industries include the manufacture of clothing, refrigeration units, and building materials; wholesale distribution; the smelting and refining of copper and other metals; the refining of oil and natural gas; meatpacking; and food processing.
3. Thousands of acres in the area have been converted into irrigated farmland by waters from the Rio Grande impounded by the Elephant Butte and Caballo Lake reservoirs. The principal crops of El Paso are cotton, alfalfa, onions, lettuce, chilies, pecans, and fruit.
4. Fort Bliss, founded in 1848, now the headquarters of the Army Air Defense Center, and various military and aerospace installations contribute importantly to the economy.
5. Tourism also is important. Visitors to El Paso are able to walk across the border and enter Ciudad Juárez, which is noted for its markets, bullfights, and horse races.
6. Within the city of El Paso are the Fort Bliss Replica Museum, containing U.S. Army uniforms, weapons, and civilian items from 1848 to 1948; and the Magoffin Home State Historic Site (1875), decorated with antiques.
7. The University of Texas at El Paso, part of the University of Texas System, is in the city. The El Paso Centennial Museum, at the university, displays exhibits of natural history. The El Paso Museum of Art has a Samuel A. Kress collection of European art. El Paso has a symphony orchestra, which performs at the Civic Center Plaza. The city's annual Sun Carnival, established in 1901, features the Sun Bowl football game.
8. In 1536 Cabeza de Vaca and his party crossed the Rio Grande at the site of El Paso. The first permanent European settlement was made at El Paso del Norte, on the south bank, in 1659. The Mission of Guadalupe, still in use today, was built there about this time. In 1682, Spanish colonists and Indian refugees from New Mexico settled at Ysleta, within the present limits of El Paso.
9. In 1827 Juan María Ponce de León constructed the first permanent settlement on El Paso's present site. Texas's war for independence and the Mexican War established the Rio Grande as the international boundary in 1846. It was not until 1849 that a real community developed on the American side of the river; at that time El Paso became an important commercial and travel center. In 1888, Paso del Norte was renamed in honor of Benito Juárez, defender of Mexico against the French.
10. The city of El Paso was incorporated in 1873 and grew steadily after the railroads reached the city in 1881. In 1967 a section of El Paso was ceded to Mexico as part of a 1963 agreement between the United States and Mexico. The land transfer ended a long-term dispute over the international boundary, which had been altered since 1846 as a result of shifts in the course of the Rio Grande. El Paso is governed by a mayor and council.