Fabled El Paso, just barely in Texas and in fact on Mountain Time (rather than Central), was at one time part of the New Mexico Territory. It is still an important crossing point for those entering from or departing for Mexico. One glance at a map will show why this city along the Rio Grande has become the transportation and business hub for southern New Mexico and West Texas, as well as a destination for outdoor adventurers and history buffs. Most residents speak English and at least some Spanish, and the mix of American Indian, Spanish, and American cultures is evident in the city's art and music, architecture, and cuisine.
Many of El Paso's downtown gems, such as the historically protected Plaza Hotel (one of Conrad Hilton's first hotels), unfortunately today stand empty. Hotels during the 1950s were often full, sometimes with Hollywood stars and the wealthy heading for a cheap and easy divorce in Ciudad Juárez (often called just Juárez), across the river. Adding to the town's bravado back then were live alligators in the plaza pond. (A sculpture of writhing alligators has replaced the real reptiles, which ended their residency in the 1960s.)