When walking downtown El Paso, I was stuck by a huge six story building stepping out of history. After finding the historical buildings plaque, I discovered that the building was once home to the Popular Dry Goods Company, once the largest locally owned retail store in the area. The building now houses the Fallas Discount Store.
When I see a building like this, I must go in—even if it is only a couple of floors. The Popular Dry Goods store was built in 1902 and served the people of El Paso and Juarez through the free trade era and the Mexican Revolution.
“Providing jobs and “high fashion” to both sides of the border region, The Popular remained both an economic and cultural force in the Borderland throughout its 93 year history. The Popular was noted for its “New York Style” of wares and fashion. Many national department store chains, such as Dillard’s, entered the Southwest marketplace in the 1970s, well behind their presence in other areas. For much of its history, The Popular maintained a stronghold on the sale of high end goods. With customers traveling from the interior of Mexico and across the Southwest, The Popular developed a reputation for its fine goods and excellent service.” (Guide to the The Popular Dry Goods Company Records)
The building roughly takes up and entire block and is a center piece on Mesa as you drive through downtown. There is enough structure left to begin to see what the building may have looked like once upon a time, but it is hard to say what the upper floors looked like—or even what they look like now.
Sometimes the feeling of nostalgia take my breath away when I see these iconic buildings. There is much history that survives through them. I am always happy to be able to dig into their past and see what the buildings were when they were built and how they thrived.
For an interesting look into the Popular Dry Good Company history, the El Paso Times has a media gallery posted at his link. http://photos.elpasotimes.com/2013/07/30/archive-photos-the-popular-dry-goods-co/