Walk just a bit too far to the west of El Paso and you’ve crossed into New Mexico. Cross the Rio Grande in El Paso and you’re in another country. So goes the history of this border city of more than 600,000 residents. Its roots are steeped far back into both U.S. and Mexican history as well as Texan and New Mexico. And, the pass where modern El Paso is located was first discovered by Spaniards and some of its earliest inhabitants were Native Americans. Today, El Paso’s history is well blended today into the city’s diverse and bilingual culture.
El Paso and Ciudad Juarez just across the river in Mexico form the largest bi-national metropolitan area along the U.S./Mexico border with about 4.9 million people. A New York Times 2011 article compared the cities to an estranged couple – each living uncomfortably together. El Paso, however, remains the far more prosperous and safest of the two, even with its pockets of poverty.
In recent years, El Paso has been shedding perceptions of being a southwestern town in the desert. With numerous restaurants and nationally-recognized/awarded chefs, its culinary scene is growing while enjoying the city’s historic center as a backdrop. Its tourism website offers the city’s top-10 things to do – all interesting, many of them historic along with museums, a zoo, and even a vineyard. The community of El Paso has activities and events that can compete with any city of similar population but not all could claim El Paso’s sunny and mild weather! There are several marathons, races, an annual rodeo, several festivals, a chamber music festival and the annual Sun Bowl attracting thousands of college football fans.
LOCATION: Many people think that El Paso is out in the middle of nowhere. Actually, it’s not far from many of New Mexico’s cities. El Paso sits at the most western corner of Texas. U.S. I-10 runs past it. Las Cruces, New Mexico is a mere 38 miles, Albuquerque, New Mexico is 86 miles away; Austin, Texas is 576 miles and Tucson, Arizona 327.
SIZE: El Paso takes up 248 square miles of Texas land making it the 4th largest city in the state and 22nd in the U.S.
CLIMATE: Sun and more sun! It’s summer averages are at around 95 degrees with low humidity and average winters see 55 to 60 degrees! Rainfall annually is just 8.65 inches.
RANKINGS: In 2015 Forbes Magazine ranked El Paso as follows:
#165 Best Place for Business & Careers
#5 in Cost of Doing Business
#71 in Job Growth
#177 in Education.
A FEW EL PASO STATISTICS: While El Paso might not be the most popular or most visited city in Texas, it has a lot to offer both visitors and residents. It is one of the state’s most affordable cities with the cost of living at 1.8% below the national average. El Paso’s median household income is $41,587 while the Texas median household income is $49,392. Housing is also affordable in El Paso with the median home price at $110, 200 compared to the national median home price of $188, 900. Crime is at about 2,711 per 100,000 residents and unemployment at 5.5% The area’s major industries are defense and education. University of Texas at El Paso is one of the largest employers in town.