History of the First Ward

By: Valerie Alva

EL PASO — El Paso’s first barrio may soon be wiped out by its own city officials. Duranguito, or Union Plaza to its residents, has been selected by city council to be the new home for the proposed multipurpose arena. The history of Duranguito is constantly ignored, according to Paso del Sur activist Cynthia Renteria. “The area has a lot of historical significance and it’s part of a past that isn’t often recognized in the narrative of El Paso,” she also reflects and explains that the story of the city is only vaguely explained up until 1881. “So it’s like the Spanish arrived here.

Modernization making its way to Downtown

By Edith Martinez

Buildings that were once home to broken windows and moldy ceilings now house a culture of free spirits with modern options. The Martin Building is just one of the new choices for downtown living. 

With its iconic “ElectriCity” rooftop sign, tenants enjoy both a mixture of classic and modern urban design. The building is now a part of downtown’s growing living spaces where rents start at $695, and are stylish as described by tenant Luis Piña. 

 “The building was completely vacant before,” Piña said. “It was not as appealing and now simply the location is everything. They are more modern and chic and I feel they are targeted toward young professionals who have careers and enjoy modern downtown living.”

 Buildings are not the only thing undergoing change in downtown.

How Downtown El Pasoans are changing their outlook with every step

 

By Caitlin Cook

Living near construction can take a toll on one’s quality of life. Residents of downtown El Paso have experienced this first hand- from the laying down of StreetCar Project tracks to the Bassett Tower renovation, getting outdoors in the few quiet places they can has been a refuge from the stress of the city. Elisa Dobler, a Therapist and Outreach Coordinator at the El Paso Child Guidance Center, knows this well. “Anytime there is an increase in loud, disruptive noise, it may cause stress in those who experience it daily,” Dobler said.  “The [World Health Organization] has written on the ‘Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise’ and the detrimental health effects.”

One escape residents have found has been through Downtown El Paso Fitness, also known as DTEPFIT.

Sunset Heights

By Pamela Ortiz

Residents in Sunset Heights take pride of their neighborhood. They work together, live together and even fight together. Every so often, the Sunset Heights Neighborhood Improvement Association meets underneath the Hal Marcus Art Gallery to discuss vital issues that will affect their area.  

On their recent July 12th meeting discussing the new district eight city council representative, resident and blogger, Sito Negron, said that he wanted someone who would preserve Sunset Heights with its historic charm. “The neighborhood has a certain feel and look to it, if they want to remodel they have to go thru a process because of the historical look and character it has to it,” he said.

Roderick Artspace

By Lizbeth Carmona

Walking the halls of the Roderick Artspace lofts, bright colors, quotes from famous authors on seizing the day, and indie music leaking through closed doors can all be experienced before even entering the resident’s lofts. An eclectic variety of people fill the 51 lofts in the new Roderick Artspace apartments in

downtown El Paso, especially people who make around 30% to 60% of the area median income and would like to dedicate themselves fully to their craft. Found on 601 N Oregon Street, Artspace is a location for both artists and local businesses looking to attract artistic commerce and improve the city’s cultural representation. Though not having long since the first residents began to move in, the Artspace is charged with creative energy. The first floor provides space for businesses that are attracted by the area such as the Kalavera Culture shop and El Paso Opera.

Downtown commerce under construction

By Weber Santiago

While road closure signs and bright orange cones have been a headache for downtown El Paso commuters, some business owners see them as a sign of improvement. Despite slow business due to construction, the downtown revitalization effort has maintained its popularity among proprietors. “Everything they’re building, the stadium, the San Jacinto Plaza, the lofts, it all makes downtown more safe,” Healthy Bite owner, Patricia Terrazas De Herrera said. The recent series of constructions in the area has provided hope for Healthy Bite, a self described “colorful daytime cafe with … health-conscious eats & smoothies.” Ft

Healthy Bite hopes that all the change will provide an incentive for more people to visit the area. Currently their customer base are mostly employees who work in the area.

A new era for older businesses

By Jacob Reyes

Downtown El Paso is an area filled with people and businesses that flourish with unique culture and history. One of those businesses is Star Western Wear with its shelves stacked with blue jeans and rows of cowboy hats that line the wall of the massive Downtown store. A store rooted in West-loving customers knows a successful future is embedded in change. Edie Zuvanich, marketing director at Star Western Wear’s downtown location, has seen this shift occur firsthand. “A lot of El Pasoans really didn’t know very much about Downtown and they had a specific mindset about Downtown.

Walls divide, murals unite

By Melanie Martinez

Many murals in El Paso reflect what it’s like to live in a border city and the struggles and pride that come from it. Pops of color have slowly been introduced into Downtown El Paso as artists have made this concrete jungle their canvas. “Art to me is an expression of who you are in the inside. To me, art started as a way to express myself and to build upon the experiences I’ve had through my life,” Leslie Grey said. Grey is an artist known for makeup and her contributions to local street art.

San Jacinto beauty reaches its fame to Instagram

By Aliana Contreras

The newly renovated San Jacinto Plaza has not only received attention from El Pasoans, but also from many talented photographers – both local and worldwide. “I’m a hobbyist. I’ve dropped a lot of money on photography, so I’m pretty obsessed with the whole hobby,” Jay said. Jay, also known as “that1duder” on Instagram, is a photographer from Seattle who traveled to El Paso three years ago to pursue his hobby of photography. “Coming down here, I didn’t know what to expect.

A home for aspiring artists: Downtown El Paso

By Sarah Olberman   

Galleries and museums are embracing local artists like never before, giving them more exposure as the El Paso creative community begins to prosper, artists say. “Before I moved to Los Angeles, the only places I would see local art was like at bars,” said Matthew Martinez, better known by his alias JAM! “That was my first experience with seeing really talented artists in a bar setting. Seeing that, I really wanted to give people an opportunity to have something in a traditional, real, contemporary gallery because I feel like there’s a lacking for that,” Martinez said. Martinez opened his gallery and store, Dream Chasers Club, 200 S. Santa Fe St., in 2015 after living in California and on the East Coast.