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El Paso’s Segundo Barrio creating history

Annabella Mireles
686 properties in the Segundo Barrio area are now part of the historic district.

Segundo Barrio, a Hispanic neighborhood rich in history, art and culture was named a National Historic District by the National Register of Historic Places. 

“People are finally recognizing the contributions that people from the Segundo have made,”  

UTEP professor of history, Yolanda Leyva said.  

Leyva says, the Segundo Barrio became the place where Mexican immigrants first lived when they came to the United States. 

“By the 1910s, it became the most densely populated area in El Paso.” Leyva said. “Lots of historians talk about it as being the Ellis Island of Mexicans.”  

Since Segundo Barrio was a popular place to migrate for immigrants, there are many people from around the United States who can trace their roots back to El Paso, Leyva said. 

“Because there (are) always immigrants coming in, Mexican culture is really kept alive right there. Music, language, food – it’s all kept alive right there,” Levya said. 

The Segundo Barrio also welcomes creativity as some of the neighborhood walls are plastered  with colorful artworks created by the artists that grew up there.  

Muralist and artist Francisco Delgado says the Segundo Barrio is a starting point for many artists, and noted that art is highly respected in Chicano communities.  

One of Delgado’s favorite art pieces in the Segundo Barrio is one he designed, a mural  outside of Sacred Heart Church, called “Sacred Heart”.  

“Growing up there, you don’t notice that you’re part of the working class until you’re actually out of there,” Delgado said. 

Delgado says overall there was a strong community growing up in Segundo Barrio and the experience made him strong.  

Not only are the walls of the Segundo Barrio covered in art, the community is home to a variety of creative people, according to Leyva.  

“So you have poets, you have novelists growing up there,” Leyva said. 

She said Mexican author Mariano Azuela wrote the first great novel of the Mexican revolution in a building on South Oregon Street.  

Don Tosti, the first Latino composer to sell a million records, was born and raised in South Oregon Street, Leyva said.  

“You have these amazing shining lights of creativity throughout the 20th century to now,” Leyva said.  

Digital artist and muralist Bobby Lerma says artists that grew up in Segundo consider the neighborhood a safe haven. 

Lerma created a non-profit company called “Segundo Barrio Apparel Company” where 75% of the proceeds go directly to the community. 

As the company’s Instagram bio puts it: “Just some friends that want to contribute to the place where we grew up.”  

Lerma says that artists that left the Segundo Barrio, although in different parts of the city, formed their foundations for their art in the neighborhood. 


Julia Lucero is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributors
Julia Lucero
Julia Lucero is a senior majoring in Multimedia Journalism. She is a contributor with The Prospector, member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and writer for Borderzine. She has experience editing/producing audio and visual projects.
Annabella Mireles
Annabella Mireles, Photo Editor
Annabella Mireles is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in digital media production and minoring in film. She is the photo editor at the Prospector newspaper and Minero magazine as well as owning her own photography business. She plans on pursuing photography full time.
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El Paso’s Segundo Barrio creating history