EL PASO — El Paso erected a 10-story office tower in 1979 to be this fast-growing West Texas city’s new City Hall. At 9 a.m. on April 14 that multi-million dollar edifice came tumbling down in a planned implosion making way for a very controversial baseball park.
Numerous individuals who worked at various times in and around that iconic building have been pumped for every possible story to fill newspaper columns and would-be experts spouted second- and third-hand information during interviews. The long and the short of it is that El Paso is now a little bit poorer due to the destruction of another piece of history to make way for the personal aggrandizement of certain prominent individuals.
This building symbolized the promise that this city had in the seventies and still has today. This City Hall building was built to bring together all of the services that the citizens needed to access routinely. This building was built to try and make life a little easier for the citizens of El Paso. Now, for the benefit of a chosen few, City Hall and the commitment to the citizens of El Paso that it symbolized has been destroyed and city services are now scattered between three buildings.
Technically, it took approximately 400 pounds of dynamite to topple the former City Hall. As the edifice collapsed, it left behind a giant cloud of dust and what is believed to be 1,000 truckloads of debris. From my vantage point, I watched the city’s street sweepers, as well as crews with leaf blowers and push brooms immediately begin to sweep up the layers of dust that covered the city streets adjacent to the blast. As had been predicted, the implosion was contained and the vast majority of the rubble remained within the demolition site and will be taken to the city landfills.
It is also interesting to note that the ringside seats for the demolition of City Hall were also reserved for the chosen few, with rooms at nearby hotels being reserved for those with money to spend the day partying while City Hall met its demise. With the upcoming election we must be vigilant that this is not a foreshadowing of the future of El Paso politics.
Due to a quirk of fate and the graciousness of some very fine business people this reporter was allowed to film the demise of this symbol of El Paso’s promise from a vantage point near ground zero.
It was sad to watch this building that has served the city so well die such an ignominious death. Immediately after the first explosions, it still stood straight and tall as if defying those who wanted it to be gone. Unfortunately, though it appeared to resist to the bitter end, this proud symbol finally gave into the laws of physics and collapsed into a pile of rubble. It is to be hoped that this does not represent the dreams of the citizens of El Paso.