An art project about the historic streetcar in the border communities of El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, sparked public interest and then took on a life of its own. This month, the streetcars that once rolled through both border communities are back on the streets of El Paso, a demonstration of the power of art to capture the imagination of a community and create a better future.
What begun as a sort of arts-driven guerilla marketing campaign for the fictional return of a historic streetcar in the border communities of El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, is becoming a reality, illustrating the power of the arts to capture the imagination of a community and help them look at old problems in different ways and imagine creative solutions.
Last year, El Paso, TX’s comprehensive plan Plan El Paso was named the Best Smart Growth Plan by the Atlantic Cities and honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for achievement in smart growth. Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council sat down with Carlos Gallinar, El Paso’s Deputy Director for City Development and Planning, to learn what El Paso is doing to become one of the premier cities of the Southwest.
El Paso, Texas, is split by a mountain and bordered by Mexico, and Susie Byrd is helping the city build great neighborhoods around these unique features.
Byrd is a City Council Representative in El Paso, and has represented District 2 since 2005. During her time as a Representative, Byrd has led numerous efforts to preserve the best parts of El Paso’s historic corridors while also transforming the city into a model of 21st-century success. Her leadership has helped lead to the adoption of a city-wide Smart Code (PDF), a new Rapid Transit System, and an innovative comprehensive plan for El Paso’s growth in coming decades. Plan El Paso has already been called the best smart growth plan in America, and it’s hardly a coincidence that an experienced, knowledgeable supporter like Byrd is behind it.