Why El Paso Usually Gets Unfairly Labeled as an “Ugly City”
El Paso came in number 12 on a Buzzfeed list of “Ugliest U.S. Cities”. It isn’t ugly, but I can understand why someone passing through might think it is.
First, a couple of things about Buzzfeed and how seriously any of their lists should be taken. The website Buzzfeed doesn’t even pretend to be a source of accurate information. In this case, the entire article was taken from a Reddit post that asked, “what’s the ugliest city you’ve visited”. So in no way is this supposed to be an accurate list in either qualitative or quantitative terms. This is a bunch of randos on Reddit sharing towns that they think is ugly. It’s not like El Paso got the 12th most votes from a panel of respected urban planners and architects. Some rando on Reddit said they didn’t like El Paso, that’s all.
Here are a few of the reasons I think people passing through the Sun City might think, mistakenly, that it’s an “ugly” city. Let’s start this as if we are westbound motorists driving through El Paso on Interstate 10.
1.) For starters, we’ve already driven hundreds of miles through some of the most barren and desolate parts of the Southwestern United States. Not everybody digs the whole “desert vibe” so those people are probably already thinking the city is ugly before they even get to the city limits.
2.) You’re passing the Horizon City exit. That area of far-east El Paso has a kind of ramshackle appearance with truck stops, abandoned truck stops and strip clubs. So, maybe visitors aren’t wowed by that.
3.) About 10 minutes later, you’re passing Lee Trevino and you’re realizing that this is the biggest city you’ve been in since leaving Dallas (or San Antonio).
4.) Downtown looks nicer from I-10. Especially at night. Especially, especially if there is a Chihuahua’s game and the stadium is all lit up.
5.) You round the corner past downtown and everything to your right is fairly appealing: UTEP, the Sun Bowl, the mountain right in the middle of the city.
6.) Then, you look left. Not only is it Juarez, Mexico…it’s one of the poorest, most run-down neighborhoods, not just in Juarez but in all of Mexico. Unless they’re with someone who knows better, most people just assume that’s another part of El Paso.
This isn’t a slam against Mexico or even Juarez. THEY know it’s an unattractive part of town. But people driving by think it’s OUR town, which it isn’t.