Highway Underpass To Be Built To Access Franklin Mountains State Park

It looks like there is going to be some major construction happening soon at Franklin Mountains State Park:

Local and state parks and wildlife officials say they have a solution that will make the entrance to Franklin Mountains State Park safe for both motorists and animals.

After reviewing six alternatives that only included proposals from the public and the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department experts — including representatives from El Paso — ultimately decided on an underpass with exits on each side of a four-lane divided highway to provide access to the park. The alternatives were evaluated based on safety, environmental concerns and cost-effectiveness.

The recommendation will not necessarily be the final design, Texas Department of Transportation officials said. The transportation department still plans to seek public input at a meeting March 12 at Canutillo High School with a preferred alternative selected later in the summer. The project will be put to bid in January 2014, project engineer Tony Uribe said.

TxDOT will pay for the design, Parks and Wildlife Senior Project Manager Corky Kuhlmann said, and the one recommended by Kuhlmann and Franklin Mountains State Park is estimated to cost just more than $9 million. Texas Parks and Wildlife on Thursday approved a transfer of 7.7 acres of Franklin Mountains State Park land to the department of transportation for the project.  [El Paso Times]

You can read the rest  at the link, but this underpass is something that has long been needed for the Franklin Mountains State Park.  This underpass is even more needed with the plan to expand Transmountain Road to four lanes through the park.  The turn off into and out of the park is already dangerous during periods of heavy traffic with the current two lane road.  So hopefully the environmentalists do not kill this project because I believe the park really needs it for public safety reasons.

For those who have never been to the Franklin Mountains I do highly recommend checking the park out if ever in El Paso.  It really is an awesome park to have right in the middle of such a major city as El Paso.  You can read more about the park at the below links:

Posted in America - West | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Day Hikes In the El Paso, Texas Region

While living in El Paso, Texas I had the opportunity to complete a number of great hikes in the region which I have listed below.  My criteria for adding a hike to this list is that the trail can be driven to, hiked, and back home all in one day.  Every hike on this list is doable in one day and each link has a map and description for the trail.  If anyone has any hikes in the El Paso region that they recommend I check out please leave a comment.  Thanks for visiting On-Walkabout.

Archive of Day Hikes In the El Paso, Texas Region

Posted in America - West | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Was Man Really Lost In the Franklin Mountains?

This story below I find very hard to believe:

A man who said he had been lost in the Franklin Mountains for the past five days was taken to a hospital Saturday, El Paso County sheriff’s officials said.

The man, 32, was trying to flag down drivers on Trans Mountain Road near mile marker 15 when deputies arrived at about 4 p.m., sheriff’s office spokeswoman Chris Acosta said.

He was dehydrated and had frostbite, cuts on his face and body and insect bites, Acosta said.

The man had not been reported missing.  [El Paso Times]

I find it hard to believe that someone could be lost in the Franklin Mountains for one day much less five days.  Just about anywhere in the Franklins Mountains the city of El Paso can be seen because the city is basically a horseshoe around the city.  Only the far northern portion of the park isn’t adjacent to the city.  However, even in the northern section of the park around the Anthony Nose area cities such as Chaparral, New Mexico on the eastern side of the range and Anthony, Texas on the western side can be seen.   All someone who is disoriented needs to do is walk to the nearest city they see.  The only way I can see someone being lost for five days is if they had extremely impaired vision.  If this guy had extremely impaired vision than what was he doing in the mountains in the first place?

Posted in America- Southwest | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

On Walkabout At: The El Paso Zoo

My little toddler daughter loves going to the zoo so my wife and I on a recent weekend went ahead and visited the El Paso Zoo.  The first time we went to the we didn’t really have high expectations considering some of the great zoos in Australia and Southeast Asia we have visited before.  Though we didn’t expect much we were pleasantly surprised by what a nice little zoo the city of El Paso has.  What really impressed us about the zoo was how friendly the staff was.  Their were many volunteer and regular staff members all around the park providing information about the various animals.  The zoo also has a little train that my daughter had a fun time riding around in as well:

The train takes visitors around the first enclosure at the zoo that houses various African animals:

This area of the zoo was actually quite large and had animals like zebras and giraffes:

In the above picture the Franklin Mountains that run through the center of El Paso can be seen in the background.   The enclosure also had some gazelles:

Fortunately for these gazelles they don’t have to worry about getting eaten by any lions since they all had their own pen that they were housed in where they were all fast asleep:

Of course no Africa exhibit would be complete without some meerkats:

From the Africa exhibit we next went and walkover to a few of the other sections of the park where we were impressed by the amount of room many of the animals had to run around within their enclosures:

However, when we visited the park many of the animals like this javelina, which was in the section of the zoo for American wildlife, was much interested in running around:

So we then walked over to the aquarium where a show was going on that featured this very large sea lion:

If you go to the El Paso Zoo make sure to check out the aquarium because the show with the sea lion is quite good.  Visitors can also walk down to the bottom of the tank and watch the sea lion swim around in the tank:

After watching the sea lion for a while we then walked back over to the Animals of the Americas exhibit and saw the remaining animals there.  One of the animals in the exhibit, the coyote I see quite often in the desert right behind my house:

From there we then went over to see the Animals of Asia exhibit.  In this section there were a few elephants from Southeast Asia:

There were also some Mongolian ponies:

Here is a colorful bird that was in this section of the park as well:

The last thing we checked out on the Animals of Asia section of the park was this orangutan that was quite active and playing around in his pen:

All in all we spent most of the day at the park and ate lunch there as well.  The lunch food at the cafeteria there wasn’t very good but fortunately the rest of the zoo is.  The El Paso Zoo is 35 acres in size and provides a not only a place to view exotic animals but is also one of few green spaces in the city.  So whether you want to take your family to see the various animals at the zoo or just looking for a place to go for a nice walk somewhere that has some greenery the El Paso Zoo is worth checking out.  The zoo is open daily at 9:30 a.m. with the ticket booth closing at 4:00 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays from June 6 to September 6 the ticket booth closes at 5:00 p.m. More information about hours and prices can be found at this link.

Posted in America- Southwest | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

On Walkabout: Walking Tour of Downtown El Paso, Texas – Part 3

Prior Posting: On Walkabout: Walking Tour of Downtown El Paso, Texas – Part 2

From San Jacinto Plaza I then next walked over to Cleveland Square.  While walking in that direction I walked over this bridge where the trains that pass through downtown due so through this underground passage in order to avoid traffic and noise problems:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

In fact the train line through the rest of the El Paso is supposed to be reconstructed and many facilities moved to Santa Teresa, New Mexico to further reduce congestion and noise in El Paso. These same types of underpasses for the trains are supposed to be constructed in neighboring Juarez as well though local politicians are not happy about this.

Anyway as I walked down E. Franklin Avenue, I soon found myself over at Cleveland Square:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

At the park is where the El Paso Museum of History and the downtown Public Library is located.  The library and park were renovated along with the construction of the museum in 2000.  I do have to say that the are is a nice looking part of downtown and I only saw one homeless person camped out there; that is pretty big progress for El Paso.

Across Santa Fe Street from Cleveland Square is the Insights El Paso Science Museum:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

According to the museum’s website, INSIGHTS has come a long ways  since it first opened in 1980 in the old El Paso Electric Company building before moving into its current newly constructed building. It has become an important facility for the the study of science in the city of El Paso Permanent exhibits, such as the Tesla Coil, Centrifugal force spinner, among others – along with traveling exhibits under contract from the Smithsonian Institution and other recognized scientific entities comprise INSIGHTS entire exhibit floor-space.

From there I walked down Santa Fe Street towards the El Paso Convention & Performing Arts Center:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

According to its website the El Paso Convention & Performing Arts Centers is where you’ll find everything from circus performances, to trade shows, to concerts by major performing artists. Near Cleveland Square and the Convention Center is the El Paso City Hall:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

Considering all the historic buildings and beautiful architecture that can be found downtown, the El Paso City Hall is one of the ugliest and uninspiring buildings in the city.  City Hall made headlines for all the wrong reasons last year when bullets from a shooting in nearby Juarez struck the building.  Fortunately no one was hurt.

From the Convention Center I then continued my walk by heading west down San Antonio Avenue to Union Plaza:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

Union Plaza is another newly constructed area downtown that is used as a major transit terminal for the city’s bus system and a parking garage for the Convention Center and the various night clubs in the neighborhood.  However, inside one corner of Union Plaza is the Railroad and Transportation Museum of El Paso:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

The museum is quite small but they had enough room to fit in a large locomotive known as the El Paso & Southwestern Railroad No. 1.  It is a 4-4-0 type steam locomotive, preserved in El Paso, Texas. The engine was built in 1857 by Breese, Kneeland, and Company of Jersey City, New Jersey, and is the only locomotive built by that firm still in existence.

The museum has a few displays up that show historic pictures from the various railroads that passed through El Paso over the years:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

They had a few nicknacks from these various railroads on display as well:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

The final place I went to check out was the El Paso Union Depot:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

Union Depot is quite a nice looking building that was designed by architect Daniel Burnham who also designed the Washington D.C. Union Station. He completed construction of the depot in 1906 and the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The station is serviced today by Amtrak and is considered the 8th busiest train station in Texas by servicing 30 passengers a day.  Despite being considered one of the busier train stations in Texas it is pretty clear once inside that servicing 30 passengers a day doesn’t lead to a whole lot of activity within the station:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

I saw one person the few minutes I walked around the inside of the train station.  Having rode trains in both Asia and Europe, I am used to busy train stations but in the US as long as Amtrak remains so slow Union Depot will continue to look like this.  Anyway that concluded my walk around downtown and all I had to do next was make the long walk back to where I parked my truck near San Jacinto Plaza.  I spent an entire morning walking around checking out downtown, but such a tour could easily take an entire day for those who want to check out the various museums as well.  Like I said on Part 1 of my walking tour posting, the city of El Paso has really done a great job fixing up downtown and increasingly making it a place for local citizens to come and visit compared to a decade ago.  I hope everyone enjoyed this walking tour of downtown El Paso and that it inspires other local citizens and visitors to check out what downtown has to offer.

Posted in America- Southwest | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

On Walkabout: Walking Tour of Downtown El Paso, Texas – Part 2

Prior Posting: On Walkabout: Walking Tour of Downtown El Paso, Texas – Part 1

As I continued my walking tour of downtown El Paso, Texas, I found myself heading down El Paso Street and just a short distance from the Camino Real was the old building that once housed the 1st National Bank:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

This building completed construction in 1883 and was used by 1st National Bank until 1914 where over the years has been used to house a variety of other businesses.  Today a boutique store is using the building, but is also was once home to the El Paso Herald newspaper, Wells Fargo Express, and the law office for the reformed gunslinger John Wesley Hardin.  You can read more about Hardin at my prior posting about Concordia Cemetery where Hardin was buried after being murdered in El Paso.

Just down the road from the old 1st National Bank building is the Montgomery Building:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

This small building seems pretty inconspicuous, but it is actually one of the most historically significant buildings in all of El Paso since it is the city’s oldest surviving false front wood structure.  It is also the city’s oldest surviving commercial structure.  It was built in 1882 and named after its builder William Montgomery.  Check out this old 1882 picture of the Montgomery Building that was included in the pamphlet that I believe gives people greater appreciation of the historic past of this now inconspicuous building:

Old El Paso Picture

I think this picture is pretty awesome to see a wagon train going by a building in downtown El Paso that still exists to this day.

Further down El Paso Street was the next building I went to check out, the Palace Theatre:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

This building was constructed in 1914 and was originally called the Alhambra.  This was another building designed by Henry C. Trost and for this building he decided to give it a Spanish and Moorish inspired exterior.  Today the building is no longer a theatre and instead is used as a nightclub.  Further down the street was the Merrick Building and the St. Charles Hotel:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

This is a very old building with it being constructed in 1887 by John J. Steward tand William J. Carpenter in 1887.  The design of the building was typical of Victorian style brick homes of the time.  A man by the name of Charles Merrick who was considered a famous clothier and tailor in El Paso operated his business out of the first floor of the building.  The first floor would later during the Mexican Revolution be turned into a major arms dealer called the Shelton Payne Arms Company.  In 1931 the Hollywood Cafe replaced the arms store.  The St. Charles Hotel was operated on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the building and was once considered the longest running hotel in El Paso until it closed in 1996.  The building was beautifully renovated in 2000 and today a retail store operates on the first floor and the rooms of the St. Charles Hotel have been converted into apartments.

Walking down San Antonio Street right next to the old First National Bank building I spotted this Union Bank & Trust Co. building:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

It was obviously no longer being used as a bank, but unfortunately my walking guide had no information about this building.  Further down the street was the State National Bank building:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

This bank was constructed in 1881 with the arrival of the railroads into El Paso.  The bank was an important part of the early development of the city.  This building was once again designed by Henry C. Trost who created a building inspired by classical Roman and Italian Renaissance design.  The bank moved out of this building in 1962 and is currently used like many of El Paso’s historic buildings as retail space.

Further down San Antonio Street is the Caples Building:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

Richard Caples was the mayor of El Paso from 1889 to 1893 and hired Trost to build El Paso’s first reinforced concrete building in 1909.  The two additional stories seen on top of the building were added in 1916.  The bottom floor of the building is still used today as commercial business space while the other floors were used for office space.  Interestingly some of the office space was used by Mexican revolutionaries to include Francisco Madero who planned the pivotal Battle of Juarez from his office on the building’s 5th floor.

Across the street from the Caples Building is the Popular Department Store:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

This was another building designed by Trost who once again turned to the Chicago commercial style he favored to construct this store in 1912.  The Popular Department store closed in 1995 and now is used for retail space.  Right across the street from the Popular Department Store is the site of the old Acme Saloon:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

There is a dollar store now constructed on the site but the original saloon was built of adobe and wood.  What made the saloon historically significant was that this was the location that John Wesley Hardin was murdered on the night of August 19, 1895:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

His last words were supposedly, “Brown, you have four sixes to beat.”  After uttering those last words John Selman walked up behind Hardin and shot him through the head killing him instantly.  A short walk up Mesa Street from the Acme Saloon site is the Abdou Building:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

This was yet another Trost building that he constructed in 1910 for the Rio Grande Valley Bank.  It was renamed the Abdou Building in 1925 when the building was bought by prominent businessman Sam Abdou.  The building was then used to house commercial space on the first floor and apartments on the floors above. Here is a historic picture of the Abdou Building from 1911:

A short walk up Texas Street from the Abdou Building is what I think is the nicest looking building in downtown El Paso, the O.T. Bassett Tower:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

This was another masterpiece designed by Henry C. Trost that was completed in 1930.  Charles N. Bassett the son of the prominent El Paso businessman O.T. Bassett built the tower in honor of his father who was one of the founders of the State National Bank.  The building is 15 stories high and built in an art deco style  that would fit in quite well in New York City:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

The O.T. Bassett Tower was briefly the tallest building in El Paso until the Hilton Hotel was completed later that same year in 1930.  Today the building is dwarfed by the Wells Fargo building right next to it along with a few other large buildings that cause it to not appear to be very prominent like it was in the past.  It is shame because it is architecturally one of the nicest buildings in the city:

From the O.T. Bassett Tower I turned down Mills Avenue to head back towards San Jacinto Plaza and that is when I next saw the historic US Post Office building:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

This building was constructed in 1917 and designed by James A. Wetmore.  The building is still used as the main Post Office for downtown El Paso to this day.  Right next to the Post Office is the Cortez Building:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

The Cortez Building like just about every other major building in downtown El Paso was built by Trost as well.  This building opened in 1926 as the Hotel Cortez.  The hotel’s most famous guest was John F. Kennedy who visited on June 5, 1965. The building continued to operate as a hotel until 1970 when it closed.  It wasn’t until 1984 that the building was renovated and turned into office space which is what it is still used for today.  Another Trost built building, the Roberts-Banner Buidling is located across the intersection from the Cortez Building:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

This building was built in 1910 and was financed by prominent New Mexico stockmen M.D. Roberts and W.M. Banner.  Adjacent to the Roberts-Banner building I noticed the backside to the old S.H. Kress building discussed earlier in the walking tour:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

From there I headed back to San Jacinto Plaza where I started my walk:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

When I visited the plaza it was being used as the site for the Occupy El Paso protests.  So the place was filled with tents, but what I found interesting was that it appeared that very few people were actually sleeping in the tents:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

It was about 8:30 in the morning when I was walking around the tents and I only saw a few people who were out and about and eating breakfast at the little eating area they setup.  They looked like college students and hippees that were eating breakfast, besides that it was just me walking around.  If people are going to go out and about and not stay in the plaza or in their tents then they should not be allowed to camp out there in my opinion.  All the tents and signs were a multi-week eyesore for the city of El Paso:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

After Thanksgiving the City of El Paso government finally kicked the protesters out of the plaza, not that is stopped their activities as they then decided to go protest local businesses as well. I guess that is better than camping out in the park.

Next Posting: On Walkabout: Walking Tour of Downtown El Paso, Texas – Part 3

Posted in America- Southwest | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

On Walkabout: Walking Tour of Downtown El Paso, Texas

The first time I came to El Paso back in 1999 downtown was not some place that people really wanted to go and frequent since it was rundown and filled with shady characters.  However, over the past few years downtown El Paso has really fixed itself up and is becoming a more attractive place for people from across the city to visit.


View Larger Map

I picked up a pamphlet that highlights a walking tour around downtown El Paso while visiting the city zoo recently.  This pamphlet was put out by the El Paso County Historical Commission and the El Paso Convention & Visitors Bureau.  The pamphlet was quite well done and informative so on a recent weekend I decided to go ahead and follow the walking tour around downtown El Paso highlighted in the pamphlet. Most of the historical information provided in this posting comes from what I read in this great downtown walking tour pamphlet and most of the historic pictures are from this El Paso city government website.  Here is a map that shows the walking tour I followed around downtown El Paso:

Downtown El Paso Map

I parked near San Jacinto Plaza and proceeded to walk to the various historic buildings described in the brochure.  I discovered that San Jacinto Plaza had a very interesting history.  It first started out as a corral for the ranch started by Juan Maria Ponce de Leon in 1927.  Ponce de Leon is considered the founder of El Paso since he was the first Mexican to settle the north side of the Rio Grande River.  The ending of the US-Mexico War in 1848 caused Ponce’s ranch to become part of the United States.  He ended up selling his ranch in 1849 to a businessman and growth the growth of El Paso began which was aided by the establishment of Ft. Bliss along the river as well.  The land where Ponce’s corral once stood was donated to the city of El Paso in 1903 to be used as a public square.  The city council named it San Jacinto Plaza in honor of the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto, Texas.  Over the years the park was beautified with trees and a gazebo with much of the beautification surviving to this day:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

Here is a historic picture from 1920 to compare to today’s plaza to:

Probably the most interesting aspect of the plaza is the fact it was once home to alligators.  Yes alligators once lived in the plaza:

Here is a historic picture of these alligators from the 1950′s:

The alligators are long gone now since they were removed from the plaza in 1967 and housed in the city zoo instead.  The history of the plaza’s alligators is still not completely gone however.  Today there is a large fiberglass statue in the plaza that pays tribute to this unique part of El Paso’s history:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

The first building I saw from the plaza was the S.H. Kress Building:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

This building was designed by the Kress Company architect Edward Sibbert in 1938.  This building was home to the 5 to 10 cent Kress Store from 1938 to 1997.  There was a few miscellaneous stores on the street level of the building but I’m not sure if the rest of the building is used for anything.  It looks like this building was once quite a beautiful sight but now a days it looks quite rundown and derelict.  Hopefully some day soon someone buys the building and gives it the remodeling it desperately needs.

On another corner across the street from the plaza is the Mills Building:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

This building is fixed up and looks quite nice.  The Mills Building sits right on top of the exact site of where the Ponce de Leon Ranch once stood.  This building was designed by Henry C. Trost and construction was completed in 1911.  So this building is 100 years old this year.  Pretty impressive for a building that is still in great shape.  The Mills family that originally built the building sold it in 1965.  Since then it has seen multiple renovations and today still serves as professional office space for various companies and businesses in El Paso.  Here is a historic picture of the Mills Building after its opening in 1911 that shows how impressively well renovated this building is:

Right next to the Mills Building is the Centre Building:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

This building used to be the Old White House Department Store and Hotel McCoy that first opened in 1912.  So this another impressively old El Paso building that looks great for its age.  The first floor is where the department store was housed while the remaining floors were for the hotel.  The building was renovated into office space in 1985 which it continues to be used for today.  This was also another building that was designed by Henry Trost.  Trost was inspired by Chicago architecture which is quite obvious by the buildings he designed in El Paso.  Here is a historic picture of the building from 1915, notice the old trolley car tracks that used to run by the building:

Adjacent to the old department store was the Plaza Theatre:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

This theatre was designed by architect W. Scott Dunne in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style.  It first opened in 1930 to a capacity crowd of 2,410 people.  The theatre was once considered a glamorous place to be but by the 1970′s it fell into a steep decline.  It became so derelict that the Plaza Theatre was faced with demolition to make a parking lot back in 1986.  A community fundraising campaign however led to the saving of the theatre.  It took many years to raise the money to renovate the building but in 2006 the Plaza Theatre reopened and is now once again a popular attraction in downtown El Paso.  During the summer they had a film festival here that we would bring our daughter to go watch some of the Disney cartoons like Dumbo they were showing on the big screen.  It was a lot of fun.

Across from the Plaza Theatre is the Plaza Motor Hotel:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

This hotel was originally built over the remains of the Hotel Sheldon that housed many figures from the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900′s.  However, the Sheldon burned down in 1929 and in its place Conrad Hilton built the Hilton Hotel which was completed in 1930.  The Hilton Hotel was sold in 1963 and renamed the Plaza Motor Hotel.  A interesting historical tidbit is that Elizabeth Taylor briefly lived in a penthouse in the hotel after marrying Conrad Hilton’s son Nicky.  This hotel was yet another building designed by Trost but instead of a Chicago style of architecture he went with an art deco style instead:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

At 239 feet (73 m) the hotel was once the tallest building in El Paso and still the 3rd tallest today.  In 1991 the hotel ceased operations thus leaving its 200+ rooms vacant.  The plaza is a nice looking building but is in serious need of renovations.  Hopefully the building like others in El Paso will be fully renovated and reopened.  It would be really cool I think if Hilton was to come back and reopen this hotel.

In front of the Plaza Hotel is Pioneer Plaza that is home to a large sculpture of Frey Garcia de San Francisco:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

According to the historical marker at the site, Fray Garcia was born in Old Castile Spain and traveled to Mexico in 1629 where he became a Franciscan priest serving in the province of New Mexico.  In 1659 he established the Manso Indian Mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Pass of the North, a strategic location on the Camino Real trail that ran between Mexico City and Santa Fe, New Mexico.  This was considered the first European settlement in the El Paso and Juarez area.  The sculpture depicts Fray Garcia in the act of building the mission, in this right hand he holds the lintel beam bearing the name of the mission and year of its founding.  The Mission Grape represents European agriculture which he introduced in the are.  His original mission still stands in downtown Juarez.  In El Paso’s early days Pioneer Plaza was the center of activity in the city as people congregated here since the trails that led to El Paso converged at this downtown area.  As El Paso grew a larger public space was needed since Pioneer Plaza was so small and that is why San Jacinto Plaza was established in 1903.

A hotel that is not in need of renovations is the beautiful El Camino Real Hotel that located across the street from Pioneer Plaza:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

The Camino Real was originally called the Hotel El Paso Del Norte and is yet another building that was originally designed by Trost and constructed in 1912.  The building was recently renovated and judging by appearances alone it is the nicest looking hotel in all of El Paso:

Picture from Downtown El Paso

Here is a historic picture of the old Hotel El Paso Del Norte from 1912 that you can compare to today’s hotel:

The Hotel El Paso Del Norte was a favorite hang out originally for cattlemen to meet and cut deals.  It was said that more cattle was bought in sold in the lobby of this hotel then anywhere else in the world.  I really think if the city can get the bulk of the business travelers to El Paso away from the airport and I-10 and back to downtown that would really do a lot to continue the revitalization of the city.  That is why I think getting the Hilton name back on the Plaza Hotel and renovating it like what has been done with the Camino Real would do a lot to encourage travelers to stay in downtown.  An underground parking garage of some kind like they have with the Camino Real would need to be built considering the sparse parking situation downtown.  Anyone else have any thoughts on this issue?

Next Posting: Walking Tour of Downtown El Paso – Part 2

Posted in America- Southwest | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Picture of the Day: El Paso’s Chico’s Tacos

Chico's Tacos In El Paso

Chico’s Tacos is quintessential El Paso.  You know someone is familiar with El Paso if they know about Chico’s Tacos.

Posted in America- Southwest | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Picture of the Day: Globe Mills In El Paso

Globe Mills Building In El Paso

This Globe Mills building was constructed in 1910 where it was used as a flour mill.  Globe Mills was a large company with mills spread throughout the American West in the early 1900′s.  Globe Mills was eventually bought out by Pillsbury in 1940.  Something interesting about this building is that it was a popular location for El Paso residents to congregate and watch battles from the Mexican Revolution across the border.  Today this is no longer a flour mill and has a few businesses working out of the warehouses, but it mostly looks abandoned.

Posted in America- Southwest | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Picture of the Day: The Don Juan de Onate Monument In El Paso

IMG_7407

This is a statue of the Spanish Conquistador Don Juan de Onate that was constructed at the entrance of the El Paso International Airport in Texas.  It took six years to create the statue by sculptors in Mexico City, Mexico.  In 2003 approximately 500 molds were sent in various shipments from Mexico City to a foundry in Tesuque, New Mexico where they were cast with bronze.  These pieces were then shipped to Lander, Wyoming where the final statue was assembled before being shipped to El Paso.  The monument is 36 feet tall and weights 34,000 pounds.  It is believed to be the largest bronze equestrian statue in the world.

There was plenty of controversy about the statue though when it was protested by Native-Americans from the Acoma Indian Reservation.  You can read more about this issue at this prior On Walkabout posting:

Posted in America- Southwest | Tagged , , | Leave a comment