El Paso, TX Urban Hike 08/10/2016

We got up early and started a walking tour of El Paso. This is a fascinating city.

Built in 1914 by Henry Charles Trost as the Alhambra Theater, the Moorish style movie theater was later renamed the Palace Theater.


St. Charles Hotel – The combination of materials, stone blocks, brick, cast iron, tile and tin is typical of the elaborate Queen Anne Victorian Style.


State National Bank – Second Renaissance style building made of granite and glazed terra cotta designed by Henry C. Trost. Begun March 1921, opened to the public 1-30-1922.


Caples Building – Richard Caples, mayor of El Paso from 1889 to 1893, commissioned Henry C. Trost to design what would become El Paso’s first reinforced concrete building. Most of the principal facades were covered with brick, and the concrete shows only in the sparse use of ornamentation. The top two stories have terracotta detailing and arched windows.


Popular Department Store – The Popular Department Store is another design by architect Henry C. Trost in the Chicago Commercial Style using all white terra cotta. Built in 1917 The Popular opened as a modern department store with a six-story building on Mesa and San Antonio Streets. The Popular, “La Popular,” served the El Paso, southern New Mexico and Chihuahua region for 93 years. In 1995, the devalued peso and Mexico’s recession along with the newly enacted North American Free Trade Agreement posed an economic strain to the region. All Popular stores were closed on November 6, 1995.


The El Paso County Courthouse is a modern style steel & concrete building completed in 1991. It has an Alamo shaped red granite entrance on the north side which extends upward to the height of the fifth floor. The remainder of the building is sheathed in sky-blue reflective glass.


The United States Courthouse is a Neo-Classical Revival composition with Art Deco influences built in 1936.


O.T. Bassett Tower – Completed in 1930, the fifteen-story, setback skyscraper rises over a larger one-story base. Henry C. Trost was commissioned to design the building. The entrance is an elaborate display of Art Deco design elements including a frieze of plant designs in square plaques just above the ground story. Ten eagle sentries guard the 15th floor.


The mustachioed face over the main entrance is reputed to be that of Henry C. Trost himself.



Abdou Building – Constructed in 1910 for the Rio Grande Valley Bank. The bank closed on 04/15/1920. The building was renamed after being purchased by prominent businessman Sam Abdou in 1925.


Main Post Office – Constructed in 1917, and in continuous operation since then, the two-story building is considered one of the most noteworthy eclectic Roman styles in far West Texas.


Hotel Cortez – Renaissance Style building designed by Trost & Trost. At the time it opened this was the largest hotel between Dallas and Los Angeles. The entrance on Mesa Street has a five-story cast relief portal and ornamented windows on the 6th & 7th floors.

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San Jacinto Plaza was once the site of the corrals for Ponce de León’s ranch. A public square was donated to the town and in 1903 the City Council named it San Jacinto Plaza, in honor of the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto, Texas. The City contracted with J. Fisher Satterwaite to create beauty out of this desert patch. He surrounded the park with a fence, created a walled pond, erected a gazebo and planted 75 Chinese Elm trees. He also introduced three alligators into the pond. The reptiles thrived. The plaza has been remodeled several times. In 1967, the pond was removed and the alligators placed into the City Zoo. Fiberglass alligators are reminders of the real alligators that once lived in a pond here.

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Roberts-Banner Building – Five story U-shaped concrete building of Romanesque style designed by Henry C. Trost for M.D. Roberts and W.M. Banner, prominent New Mexico stockmen. Each floor’s frieze shows ornate details of European and Mesoamerican-influenced designs — heraldic, floral and speech-scroll motifs, more specifically.


Plaza Hotel – In the fall of 1929, Conrad Hilton began the construction of this high-rise Art-Deco hotel. Nineteen days later the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Despite this, the hotel opened on November 30, 1930. The hotel was sold in 1963 and renamed the Plaza Hotel.


Fray Garcia Monument – In the center of the plaza is a 14-foot bronze sculpture of Fray García de San Francisco by John Houser. Fray Garcia was the priest who founded the area’s first mission.


Plaza Theater – The Plaza Theatre opened September 12, 1930 for movies and stage shows. The theatre’s Atmospheric style beauty is equally matched by its glorious Spanish Colonial decor.



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