I had the pleasure of first visiting Albuquerque a number of years ago while
I was in the Air Force. I
remember driving into town and noticing all the
"earth tone" colors--BROWN. Being from the southeast, it took a little getting
used to, but after a few days it was great. Loved this visit also. We look
forward to returning soon and seeing things we did not have time to see on this trip.
Albuquerque, the largest city in the state of New Mexico, is the county seat of Bernalillo County and is situated in the central part of the state, straddling the Rio Grande. The city population was 545,852 as of the 2010 Census and ranks as the 32nd-largest city in the U.S. As of June 2007, the city was the sixth fastest-growing in America.
Albuquerque is home to the University of New Mexico, Kirtland Air Force Base, Sandia National Laboratories, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, and Petroglyph National Monument, and is the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande. The Sandia Mountains run along the eastern side of Albuquerque, and the Rio Grande flows through the city, north to south.
Albuquerque was founded in 1706 as the Spanish colonial outpost of Ranchos de Albuquerque, 18 families had resided in the area. Present-day Albuquerque retains much of its historical Spanish cultural heritage.
Albuquerque was a farming community and strategically located military outpost along the Camino Real. The town was also the sheep-herding center of the West. After 1821, Mexico also had a military garrison there. The town of Albuquerque was built in the traditional Spanish village pattern: a central plaza surrounded by government buildings, homes, and a church. This central plaza area has been preserved and is open to the public as a museum, cultural area, and center of commerce. It is referred to as "Old Town Albuquerque" or simply "Old Town." "Old Town" was sometimes referred to as "La Placita" ("little plaza" in Spanish).
After the American occupation of New Mexico, Albuquerque had a federal garrison and quartermaster depot, the Post of Albuquerque, from 1846 to 1867. During the Civil War Albuquerque was occupied in February 1862 by Confederate troops under General Henry Hopkins Sibley, who soon afterward advanced with his main body into northern New Mexico. During his retreat from Union troops into Texas he made a stand on April 8, 1862, at Albuquerque and fought the Battle of Albuquerque against a detachment of Union soldiers commanded by Colonel Edward R. S. Canby. This daylong engagement at long range led to few casualties.
Sidenote: Colonel Canby is known for leading his forces at the Battle of Blakely in Spanish Fort, Alabama a few hours after Robert E. Lee surrendered his troops to the Northern Army.
When the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad arrived in 1880, it bypassed the Plaza, locating the passenger depot and rail yards about two miles east in what quickly became known as New Albuquerque or New Town. Many Anglo merchants, mountain men, and settlers slowly filtered into Albuquerque creating a major mercantile commercial center which is now Downtown Albuquerque.
Due to a rising rate of violent crime, gunman Milt Yarberry was appointed the town's first marshal that year. New Albuquerque was incorporated as a town in 1885, with Henry N. Jaffa its first mayor, and it was incorporated as a city in 1891.and it was incorporated as a city in 1891.
Old Town remained a separate community until the 1920s when it was absorbed by the city of Albuquerque. Old Albuquerque High School, the city's first public high school, was established in 1879.
New Albuquerque quickly became a tidy southwestern town. By 1900, it boasted a population of 8,000 inhabitants and all the modern amenities, including an electric street railway connecting Old Town, New Town, and the recently established University of New Mexico campus on the East Mesa. In 1902, the famous Alvarado Hotel was built adjacent to the new passenger depot, and it remained a symbol of the city until it was razed in 1970 to make room for a parking lot. In 2002, the Alvarado Transportation Center was built on the site in a manner resembling the old landmark.
The large metro station functions as the downtown headquarters for the city's transit department. It also serves as an inter-model hub for local buses, Greyhound buses, Amtrak passenger trains, and the Rail Runner commuter rail line. The first travelers on Route 66 appeared in Albuquerque in 1926, and before long, dozens of motels, restaurants, and gift shops had sprung up along the roadside to serve them.
Route 66 originally ran through the city on a north-south alignment along Fourth Street, but in 1937 it was realigned along Central Avenue, a more direct east-west route. The intersection of Fourth and Central downtown was the principal crossroads of the city for decades. The majority of the surviving structures from the Route 66 era are on Central, though there are also some on Fourth. Signs between Bernalillo and Los Lunas along the old route now have brown, historical highway markers denoting it as Pre-1937 Route 66.