Monday, February 28, 2011

El Paso

Welcome to El Paso, Texas! Situated in western Texas along the banks of the Rio Grande river, El Paso is home to over 800,000 people, making it the 22nd largest city in the United States. It was big! And a big city typically means big amenities, some of which I had the chance to check out.

The story of El Paso is really a tale of two cities. Back in the days of colonialism, Spain established a city on the other side of the Rio Grande called El Paso del Norte in 1659, where the present day city of Cuidad Juárez now stands. This city was the base of operations for Spain's government over the New Mexico territory. The region on the north side of the Rio Grande remained largely unsettled because of continuous attacks by the Native American Apaches. Yet over the next couple hundred years, settlements were able to take hold as the attacks waned.

The state of Texas gained its independence from Mexico in 1836, but at that time it had no connection to the El Paso territory. Then, in 1845 the United States annexed the state of Texas. This sparked off the Mexican-American war, which ran from 1846-1848, culminating in the American capture of Mexico City. With that capture, Mexico agreed to give up large portions of land which is now much of the western United States, such as Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.

With so much land acquired by the United States in such a short period of time, there was great debate over how to divide up and control it. Slavery became a wedge issue of the debate, as the southern states wanted to maintain a balance of states which permitted slavery. Eventually, the Compromise of 1850 was drawn up, and that managed to hold the peace of the Union for a little while longer.

Part of that compromise assigned the settlement of El Paso del Norte on the north side of the Rio Grande would then belong to Texas. At that moment, the U.S. city of El Paso was legally born.

On my way to El Paso, I was driving through the small town of Marfa.  How small was it?  Well, there were probably 5 cows to every 1 person.  That's when I saw this.  A (mock) Prada shop.  It was an art project. and it stuck out like a person in a snow suit on Daytona Beach in the middle of summer.  Ha!

The city had some appealing architecture, like the science museum below.  I think it's Art Deco style.

There were a number of beautifully adorned facades, making a city walk a nice treat.

This Tiffany glass skylight was cool and huge!  It had to be a good 20 feet wide!

This was another slick building done up in Art Deco.

Aside from exterior beauty, there was interior beauty to El Paso, like the El Paso Museum of Art.  This painted reminded me so much of the White Sands National Monument.

This one too.  I felt like I was right back in the Monument.

I loved this etching!

Pretty flowers are always a great subject for a painting.

There are times when I am awestruck by the beauty of a tree, so I could really identify with this painting.  I feel a deep connection to trees.  I mean, I am made of paper and all...  ;-)

Simple, haunting, and wonderful.

Ah!  It's a monster!  Look out!

The ocean's crashing waves draw me into a daydream.

There were also some pieces of modern art, like this funky pattern work.  This really plays with your eyes.

I don't know why, but I like this one.  It's funky fresh.

The sun is setting on El Paso, at least for me.  So I will see you next time!