El Paso, Texas

Encyclopedia Article


A city located in the far southwestern corner of Texas, on the banks of the Rio Grande, and just across the border from the city of Juárez, Mexico. In Spanish, the name El Paso means "the passage," and indicates the strategic location of the town in Spanish colonial times along the Camino Real Por Tierra Adentro, Spain's "royal road" that traveled north from Mexico City to the Spanish colony's northern frontier. Although a mission was built in the area in 1659 and small settlements were scattered around it throughout the 1700s, it wasn't until 1827 that a permanent village was established in what today is the city of El Paso. The town grew slowly until the arrival of the railway in 1881, after which El Paso saw a significant population increase and a growth in trade, commerce, ranching, agriculture, and mining production.

Today El Paso is an important crossroad for foreign trade, transnational labor, and pan-American transportation. Its history as a Spanish colonial town and its proximity to Mexico make it a bilingual city with strong cross-border influences on its economy, demographics, and culture.

Photo Credit: 

"El Paso Skyline, June 14, 2007" by Zereshk is licensed under Public Domain.