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WALKING TOUR

Walking Tour, Juarez, MX

Downtown Historic Walking Tour

Welcome to Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, and its Historic Downtown Self- Guided Walking Tour. It has been designed for you to stroll through the streets and buildings which are full of legends, traditions and history.

Self- Guided Walking Tour, Juarez, MX

Within two hours, 2.5 miles round trip, one will have an opportunity to walk through the Cuidad Juarez downtown area. One will see historical buildings such as the Mission of Guadalupe, built in 1659 by Franciscans; the Old Customs House, built in 1889; and streets that have experienced events and activities that have shaped the face their community.
From the founding over 400 years ago, Ciudad Juarez, formerly known as Villa Paso del Norte, has played an important role in the development of the region from the standpoint of social, economic, and industrial issues.

Old Juarez, Juarez, MX

The agreement that marked the end of the Porfirio Diaz dictatorship was signed in Ciudad Juarez. International trade has been taking place in our city for centuries. The "maquiladora," or twin plant program, was born in the mid-1960's, making our community a leader in this field.
Today, Ciudad Juarez is one of the most imporatant cities in Mexico, and combined with its sister city, EL Paso, Texas, creates a metropolitan area with a special combination of cultural, historical and traditional uniqueness worldwide.

OLD WOODEN INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE JUAREZ/EL PASO, Juarez, MX

This walking tour begins at the Paso del Norte International Bridge. Formerly known as the Santa Fe Bridge, because it connected Avenida Juarez in Ciudad Juarez with Santa Fe Street in El Paso, the bridge was rebuilt and renamed in 1965. It now connects Avenida Juarez with El Paso Street. This bridge accommodates pedestrians traveling both north and south but only handles northbound vehicular traffic. A short distance away, the Good Neighbor Bridge accommodates the southbound vehicular traffic by connecting Stanton Street in El Paso with Avenida Lerdo in Juarez.
Both bridges, along with the railroad bridge, link downtown Juarez and El Paso. The flags and plaques placed mid-way on the Paso del Norte International Bridge mark the official border of our two nations at the Rio Grande, or Rio Bravo, as it is known in Mexico.

"Grande" means great/ big and "bravo" means rough/spirited. Even though today we see a river that is channeled and tame, it wasn't always so. This river was in fact big and rough until Elephant Butte Dam in New Mexico was completed in 1916.

If we face northwest, we can see the river as it channels from the far-off San Juan Mountains in Colorado where it springs to life and begins its journey to the Gulf of Mexico.

The first bridges crossing the river were built at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Before the river (known to the Spaniards as Rio del Norte or The River of the North) was crossed by wading across the shallows that gave the region the name of "El Paso del Rio Norte" or Pass of the North. The first bridges were continually destroyed by the waters when the river flooded. Today's Paso del Norte International Bridge was constructed in 1962.

Below the bridge, we can see that there is a narrow canal that carries water at a faster rate than the river. This is due to the way the canal was built. This is the American Canal. It takes in the water from the Rio Grande before it comes into Mexico and its purpose is to irrigate fields of El Paso's Lower Valley.

Many tourists as well as El Pasoans and Juarenses walk across the Paso del Norte International Bridge because it links the heart of both cities. It is at this same bridge that we will end our tour.

Cuidad Juarez Street, Juarez, MX



AV. JUAREZ TOURIST STRIP (Ca. 1935)

The stretch of Avenida Juarez that runs from the Paso del Norte International Bridge to Avenida 16 de Septiembre is the oldest and historically the most colorful tourist strip of any Mexican border community. For generations shoppers have purchased Mexican products in the plentiful curio shops, and since frontier days diners and fun seekers have enjoyed the restaurants, saloons, casinos, nightclubs and other nocturnal attractions. U.S. gangsters engaged in illegal liquor trafficking across the border and carried on business on the strip with local entrepreneurs during the days of U.S. prohibition in the 1920's and 1930's. Before the onset of "no-fault" divorce laws in the United States, legions of American celebrities worked out details of their "quickie" Mexican divorces in law offices located in the district. It is said that the "margarita" drink was invented in one of the bars on the strip. Today as in the past, Avenida Juarez continues to bustle with tourist activity.

Avenida Juarez shares with other thoroughfares along the Mexican border (such as Avenida Revolucion in Tijuana) a reputation that, whether good or bad, is known over the world. In short, this Avenue is famous and infamous.

In the 1990's, the government of the state of Chihuahua, the city government and merchants along Juarez Avenue made an effort to revitalize and present a better image. Unfortunately, few historical buildings and sites remain standing along Avenida Juarez but the following are worth mentioning.

1. MARTINO RESTAURANT –Avenida Juarez Norte #643

MARTINO RESTAURANT, Juarez, MX

This famous restaurant was built in the 1920's and due to its tradition remains popular with locals and visitors alike. Some years ago, the owners tried to close it. However, the employees united and bought the restaurant and presently operate it themselves. It is an outstanding example of Juarez's culinary arts and features a variety of international cuisines.

2. KENTUCKY BAR – Avenida Juarez Norte #629

KENTUCKY BAR, Juarez, MX

Welcome to the oldest bar in the city still in service. Since opening its doors in 1920, this bar with its great tradition has preserved its elegance and prestige. Great personalities from the world of politics, art, cinema, sports and bullfighting, including John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and Jack Dempsey, have all sat at its beautiful bar. The photographs of many other famous patrons are displayed on the walls. Here you can buy bullfight tickets during the season.

A little farther down we find the Plaza del Mariachi. This is the place where Tommy's Bar once was located and where Juarense bartender, Francisco "Pancho" Morales claims to have created the famous Margarita Cocktail.

We now come to Calle Mejia and we are reminded that not far from here is the area known as Bellavista where a little food vendor's stall gave birth to the now famous "burritos. " This distinctive Mexican food gave Juarez a place in the Guiness Book of World Records for the world's largest burrito (153 ft.) in 1993.

3. TEMPLO BAUTISTA (BAPTIST CHURCH) – Avenida Juarez Norte #225

TEMPLO BAUTISTA (BAPTIST CHURCH), Juarez, MX

Built in 1921, this was the second Protestant Church established in Juarez. Building the church here was a very daring act during the days of U.S. Prohibition. From this location churchgoers witnessed the liquor and entertainment business boom. Religious services are still held here.

4. SAN LUIS BUILDING – Avenida Juarez at Av. 16 de Septiembre

SAN LUIS BUILDING, Juarez, MX

On this corner we find a brick building built to house the money exchange and bar known as Club San Luis. It was named after the Spirit of St. Louis, the plane flown by Charles Lindbergh on his famous transatlantic flight. A small replica of the plane can be seen on the front of the building. In 1929, Charles Lindbergh visited Juarez and met with Mexican aviator Captain Emilio Carranza, famous for his record setting flights and greatly admired by the public along the border.

From this vantage point we can see several interesting buildings, including the Old Customs House (today the Juarez Museum of History), the Custom Administrator's House and the Sauer Building.

5. CASA SAUER BUILDING - (Avenida Juarez at Av. 16 de Septiembre)

Across from the museum is a building constructed in the 1920's and named after George D. Sauer, a merchant dealing in groceries, wines, liquors, cigarettes and import-exports. Sauer & Co. existed at this site until 1934 and dealt in the beer and bottled drinks business in both Juarez and El Paso. In later years, this building housed the El Paso Trolley Company, Juarez Traction Co., El Paso Electric Co., and Southwest Telephone &Telegraph, all of which provided their services in Juarez. Medical offices, law firms and public notaries continue to occupy the building.

6. EX-ADUANA (OLD CUSTOMS HOUSE) JUAREZ MUSEUM OF HISTORY (Av. 16 de Septiembre #209)

Built in 1885-1889, this building served as the Customs House for many years and it now houses the city's Historical Museum. It is one of the few examples of Victorian architecture left in Juarez and is characteristic of the Porfirio Diaz era (1876-1911). On October 16,1909, President Porfirio Diaz hosted a banquet for President William H. Taft in the central hall. This was the first meeting ever held between the presidents of Mexico and the United States.

7. OLD CUSTOMS HOUSE (Ca. 1920's) – Av. 16 de Septiembre #209

OLD CUSTOMS HOUSE, Juarez, MX

The building's rooms and halls were lavishly decorated for the festivities of Mexico's Independence Centennial in 19 10. Only one year and a few months later on May 8, 1911, the pact for Porfirio Diaz's resignation to the presidency of Mexico was reached here. After the great battle of Ciudad Juarez in May, 1911, the peace treaties giving victory to the Mexican Revolution, headed by Francisco I. Madero, were signed in this building. The legendary Pancho Villa, Pascual Orozco and many other heroic figures participated in the "siege" of this city. The Mexican Revolution lasted ten years and numerous interested Americans took an active part in the events.

Since the arrival of the railroad in the 1880's, all the merchandise that crossed from one country to another and payment of taxes were controlled in the Customs House. For many years the railroad was the primary choice for transporting cargo. Mexican trains still cross the center of town at night to link up with Union Pacific, Burlington Northern/ Santa Fe railways in El Paso.

In 1990, the entire building was restored so that it could open its doors as the Ciudad Juarez Museum of History. This museum has a permanent exhibit of regional history starting with the pre-Columbian cultures such as that which existed in Casas Grandes and Paquime in the state of Chihuahua. It also covers the explorations by the Spanish Conquistadors, the period of the Spanish Vice ­Royalty, Independence, the Reformation, and the Porfirio Diaz era.

At present the museum is in the process of expanding its contents. More emphasis will be given to the daily life, customs and culture of border society which is characterized by migration, work and the meeting of cultures.

8. ADMINISTRATOR'S HOME OLD CUSTOMS HOUSE - (Avenida Juarez Sur # 144)

This is the part of the Old Customs House built in 1885 – 1889 that served as living quarters for the administrator. The building was recently restored and now houses the Gallery of "Distinguished Juarenses. "

For many years this avenue has been considered the city's main street. It was formerly called "Calle del Comercio" (Commerce Street).

9. PLAZA DE ARMAS (MAIN SQUARE) - (Calle Vicente Guerrero, Noche Triste and Av. 16 de Septiembre)

Main Square, Juarez, MX

Recently remodeled with a gazebo, kiosk and a fountain, the main plaza is typical of Mexican squares. Even today it is a meeting place for Juarenses. This space was used during colonial times for the garrisoned troops to present arms and carry out military maneuvers, hence its name. The square was plotted by order of the governor of New Mexico ca. 1680 across from the old Mission of Guadalupe which we will visit later. Close by, is the imposing cathedral with its stone cut towers which will also be visited later.

10. EL CAMINO REAL deTIERRA ADENTRO (THE ROYAL ROAD OF THE INTERIOR)

El Paso, TX/ Juarez, MX Map

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro is one of several historic trails that has had a significant role in the history and development of Mexico and the United States. This trail extended from Mexico City through Zacatecas, Durango, Chihuahua, and on to El Paso del Norte where it continued along the Rio Grande Valley to Santa Fe, New Mexico. El Camino was approximately 1,500 miles long and functioned for an extended period from 1598 to the 1880's. The trail also has significance as a North American Indian trade route prior to and during use by the Spanish explorers and colonists. It is the first road to be developed by Europeans in what is now the United States, and for a time it enjoyed the distinction of being the longest road in North America. After the independence of Mexico in 1821 and with the development of the Santa Fe trail, El Camino Real became the Santa Fe Trail, the major trade and commerce links from Missouri to Mexico City.

El Camino Real continued as a major trade route until the 1880's when the railroad was built from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, and on to Juarez and Chihuahua City.

11. SITE OF PRESIDENT BENITO JUAREZ' OFFICE Av. 16 de Septiembre Poniente (west)

BENITO JUAREZ, MX

From 1865 to 1866, Mexican president and patriot Benito Juarez was forced to move from one place to another while fleeing the occupying French forces who were trying to install Maximilian of Habsburg as Emperor of Mexico. Juarez wound up in Paso del Norte and at this location he maintained his office. Later he returned to Mexico City to occupy the National Palace upon the defeat of the French troops and fall of the Empire.

The Juarenses of that era were rewarded for the services they performed for the nation and the city subsequently took the name of this Mexican hero. The city's coat of arms bears the motto "Custodian of the Republic".

A small bust and plaque commemorate the site of his office that served as the seat of government in that troubled time.

On this site also stood the post office building, which was destroyed during the Mexican Revolution in the fierce battle of Juarez on May 8, 1911. Many buildings were badly damaged and destroyed during the Mexican Revolution and with them their silent testimony to the history of the city.

12. OLD CITY HALL Calle Mariscal at Av. 16 de Septiembre

OLD CITY HALL, MX

Old City Hall dates back to late nineteenth century. The saw cut lava rock covers thick adobe walls and beams which still guard the interior. This building was a "presidio" (fort) that served as barracks for the troops who fought the ferocious Apache Indians and protected travelers on El Camino Real.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries peace treaties with the Indians of the region were signed in this building. The highest authority was the Captain of the Presidio. He was also a lieutenant of the Governor of New Mexico since El Paso del Norte was the village with the greatest number of inhabitants in the province.

It was in this building that the first town council of El Paso del Norte met and decided to join the state of Chihuahua and cease being part of New Mexico.

The American flag flew over this building in 1846-47 when Colonel Alexander Doniphan's army occupied the village during the Mexican -American War.

In 1947, the building was reconstructed. In the foyer, we can find a mural depicting the local history and on its facade is the Juarez coat of arms. This site was the seat of civil authority for over 300 years. Currently it is being remodeled to house the Municipal Arts Center.

13. CUAUHTEMOC MARKET Calle Vicente Guerrero at Calle Mariscal

CUAUHTEMOC MARKET, Juarez, MX

Since the late 1880's, pioneers have exchanged goods and services on this site. Since 1906, this public market has housed different buildings. Its interior is a typical Mexican public market where one can buy anything from groceries and ready-made food to herbs, pets, souvenirs and folk art.

14. THE MISSION OF GUADALUPE Calle Vicente Guerrero in front of the Plaza de Armas

The Mission of Guadalupe, Juarez, MX

By standing in front of the Mission you will notice statues of its founder, Fray Garcia de San Francisco. Born in Old Castilla, Spain, he came to the New World in 1629 to reinforce mission efforts in the province of New Mexico. In 1659 he established the Mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe among the Manso Indians at the Pass of the North, a strategic location along the developing El Camino Real. The smaller bronze sculpture is a replica of the Fray Garcia statue located in downtown El Paso. It depicts Fray Garcia in the act of building his mission. In his right hand he holds the lintel beam carved by the Indians and bearing the name of the mission and year of its founding. The cluster of grapes in a Manso Indian basket, at Fray Garcia's feet, represents viticulture and agriculture which he introduced into the area.

On December 8, 1659, Fray Garcia de San Francisco, accompanied by Fray Juan de Salazar and ten families of Christian Indians, built a provisional oratory out of branches and mud and a monastery with a roof made of straw. On January 5, 1662, the New Church of the Mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe was inaugurated. One hundred Indians were baptized on that day.

Fray Garcia, after 12 years at the Pass, returned to minister among the Piro Indians of Senecu Mission, near modern Socorro, New Mexico, until his death on January 22, 1673.

Guadalupe Mission is the mother of the El Paso Valley Missions. To the tired traveler along the Camino Real, it was an important stop for food and rest. During the 1680 Pueblo Revolt in New Mexico, over 2,500 Spanish refugees and displaced Indians received food and shelter at the mission. Until 1692, the Pass of the North was the most northern outpost of colonial Spain in the New World.

Constructed solely of adobe, the thickness of its walls can be appreciated at the main and side doors. These doors with their simple portico and Spanish colonial oval windows known as "Ojo de Buey" (Bull's Eye), have been recently restored following the original sketches. The ceiling stands out for its artistic quality. The missionaries came from the Iberian Peninsula where an Arabic influence can be seen in civil and religious buildings. At the Mission of Guadalupe, one can appreciate the Indian elements in the rectangular decorations, the braiding, the circular stairs, the toothed profiles and the serpent pallets carved into each one of the ceiling rafters, sacristy doors, candlesticks, lectern and the side chapel.

At the center, the church has a stone altar installed during the last restoration (1968-1971). Under this altar lie the remains of the first settlers. The floor is flagstone. The choir, at the back of the church, is made of wood and is supported by two elegant carved wood columns crowned by a wide capital. The entrance door to the choir is sealed for its protection but one can admire the work on the door since it is one of the original doors of the mission. At the head of the altar is a panel with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe in a finely carved wood and glass niche. The entire building is seventeenth century Mexican Baroque which includes Indian motifs.

15. THE CATHEDRAL Av. 16 de Septiembre in front of the Plaza de Armas

THE CATHEDRAL, Juarez, MX

The Cathedral was also dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron of the cities and seat of the Bishop and the Diocese since 1957. Begun in 1941-45, it was rebuilt between 1975 and 1977 after it was destroyed by fire. The original facade and 100 ft. towers remain. The rest of the building was completely transformed in an austere and sober style. On the south side is the stained glass window representing "The Grace of God in the salvation of Mexico through the Virgin of Guadalupe," as well as the miracle of the roses.

16. GARITA DE LOS METALES (MINERALS'WEIGHING STATION)Calle Vicente Guerrero at Av. Francisco Villa

This building was constructed in 1889 as part of the Old Customs House Compound. Constructed of red brick, it was used to count metals prior to exportation. Today, it serves as a center for tourist information and the sale of folk art from the state of Chihuahua.

17. BENITO JUAREZ MONUMENT Calles Vicente Guerrero, Ramon Corona at Constitucion

BENITO JUAREZ MONUMENT, Juarez, MX

This is the most important monument within the city. It is an architectural gem commissioned by Governor Enrique Creel for the Centennial celebrations of Mexico's Independence. In 1909, President Porfirio Diaz came to Ciudad Juarez to place the first stone of this monument. It was finished one year later and inaugurated on September 16, 1910. Italian sculptors Augusto Volpi and Fransisci Rigalt were the overseers of the project. The monument is constructed of marble and has four plaques which represent the most significant episodes in the presidency of Benito Juarez.

18. MADERO STREET From the Juarez Monument to Av. 16 de Septiembre

The Mexican Revolution began in 1910 under the leadership of Francisco 1. Madero. Madero, originally from Coahuila, became President of Mexico in 1911, and was assassinated in a coup on February 23, 1913.

19. VICTORIA BUILDING Av. 16 de Septiembre at Madero Street

VICTORIA BUILDING, Juarez, MX

This building served as a theater. The land belonged to Mr. Inocente Ochoa, who was mayor of Villa Paso del Norte. In 1865 he provided lodging at his home for President Benito Juarez.

20. JUAREZ MARKET Av. 16 de Septiembre at Agustin Melgar Street

This traditional market dates from 1945. Today one can find folk art, food and drinks, Mariachis and much more.

21. HOTEL RIO BRAVO Av. 16 de Septiembre at Av. Francisco Villa

HOTEL RIO BRAVO, Juarez, MX

This was one of the finest hotels at the turn of the century. When President Porfirio Diaz came to Juarez to meet with President Taft, Diaz' entourage stayed at the Hotel Rio Bravo. Also, due to its proximity to the railroad and the international border, this was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolution. It was at this battle that the federal forces finally surrendered to the revolutionaries.

For hundreds of years the river flooded this long valley making the land fertile and as a result a great agricultural center. However, the river caused suffering to the population that settled along its banks. The meandering of the river and the flatness of the terrain caused its instability and the overflow of its banks. It moved incessantly exchanging Mexican and American lands. This was the reason for Mexico's claim on the land known as "El Chamizal" since 1865. Finally, the dispute was settled 100 years later, in 1964, when presidents Kennedy and Lopez Mateos agreed on the final terms for its transference. On October 27, 1967, President Lyndon Johnson officially turned over 333 hectares to President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz. The toll free Cordova International Bridge and the Mexican Chamizal Park were built on these lands.

As we return to the International Bridge and pass the toll both we can turn and look southeast and see the course of the river and the Chamizal Park.

Street, Juarez, MX


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