1936 aerial photo looking northeast at the original El Paso Municipal Airport
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) built the El Paso International Airport in El Paso TX.
The antecedent to the El Paso International Airport, built by the WPA, was the Municipal Airport, established by Standard Airlines. This original airport was established close to the east side of the Franklin Mountains. More than 1000 men worked on landscaping, groundwork, as well as airplane and airport improvements. This original site then became a cement batching plant, and later on it became a US Army training base during WWII. It is important to consider the precedent of the original airport because it gives important historical context to the decisions made by the airline and the WPA to move the airport to a new location. Only one year after this airport opened, Standard Airlines decided the demand was too high and established the airport that would eventually be known as the El Paso International Airport.
Today, the El Paso International Airport is the biggest civil airport in West Texas and home to seven major airlines. It handles more than 3 million passengers on a yearly basis. The airport placed El Paso on the map, as it made it easier for passengers to access the city, addressing the needs of America and neighboring countries. These new improvements and the move of the airport represent the increasing demand of international flight. It reflects an economic growth where people are using air travel more, and is an indication that the New Deal did help stir up the American economy.
The process of researching this New Deal site involved collecting and evaluating information from primary sources regarding these historical events. The research was done with several newspapers from the time period of the New Deal that regarded deliberation of the land and the establishment of the project. The American airport bulletin also establishes the map and locations of airports around the country which was useful to identify the location and history of the airport.
A secondary source was also used for the project, where WPA renovations are addressed, but it focuses more on the aftermath of the renovations and the transformation to what today is the El Paso International Airport.
List of sources used:
"Airport Tract will be sold under hammer". El Paso Herald-Post. September 18, 1936. El Paso, TX. pg. #9.
"WPA Official Foresees Wide Air Advances", Friday, October 29, 1937, pg. #2. (Newspaper article explaining the need for more airports as part of WPA projects.)
Freeman, Paul. "(Original) El Paso Municipal Airport, El Paso, TX". Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Texas: El Paso Area. Modified April 26, 2013. https://airfields-freeman.com/TX/Airfields_TX_ElPaso.htm#elpasomuni
Timmons, Wilbert H. El Paso: A Borderlands History. El Paso, Tex: Texas Western Press/The University of Texas at El Paso, 2004.
Project originally submitted by Daniela Castillo on December 26, 2021.
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