Fronteras: Saving El Paso's Barrio Duranguito | Texas Public Radio

Fronteras: Saving El Paso's Barrio Duranguito

Nov 30, 2018

When we think of “urban renewal,” trendy coffee shops and shopping centers often come to mind. But what about the people living in the zones destined for demolition? Yolanda Chávez Leyva, a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, was on the front lines in the fight to save the people and the history of El Paso’s oldest neighborhood: Barrio Duranguito.

Historic building on Chihuahua Street in Barrio Duranguito - that was damaged on September 12, 2017 - featuring artwork by Zeke Peña.
Credit Photo courtesy of Paso del Sur.

Low-income, minority neighborhoods are often targeted by developers, and the residents of those barrios — where, for some, have called the neighborhoods home for generations — face the burden of displacement.

FRONTERAS EXTRAEl Paso's Segundo Barrio

This is the case for El Paso oldest neighborhood adjacent to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Duranguito roots date back to 1827. And like many old, predominately minority neighborhoods, the homes are in need of repair. But also like many old, minority neighborhoods, its residents take pride in where they live.

But developers have had eyes on Duranguito and other south El Paso properties as part of a long-term downtown revitalization plan.
Chávez Leyva, associate professor in the department of history at the UTEP, has played an active role in saving Duranguito.

She talks about the battle to save it from demolition.

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Norma Martinez can be reached at and on Twitter @NormDog1 and Lauren Terrazas can be reached at and on Twitter @terrazas_lauren.