Santa Fe, the capital of the state of New Mexico, is the fourth-largest city in the state
population of 69,204 in 2012) and is the seat of Santa Fe County. The city of Santa Fe, founded by
Spanish colonists in 1610, is known as the oldest state capital city in the United States and the
oldest city in New Mexico. Santa Fe means "holy faith" in Spanish.
The area of Santa Fe was originally occupied by indigenous people, who had built a number of Pueblo villages about 1050 to 1150. One of the earliest known settlements in what today is downtown Santa Fe came sometime after 900. A Native American group built a cluster of homes that centered around the site of today's Plaza and spread for half a mile to the south and west; the village was called Ogapoge. The people settled along the Santa Fe River for its water and transportation.
The river had a year-round flow until the 1700s. By the 20th century the Santa Fe River was a seasonal waterway. As of 2007, the river was recognized as the most endangered river in the United States, according to the conservation group American Rivers.
Don Juan de Onate led the first European effort to colonize the region in 1598, establishing Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico as a province of New Spain. Under Juan de Onate and his son, the capital of the province was the settlement of San Juan de los Caballeros north of Santa Fe near modern Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. New Mexico's second Spanish governor, Don Pedro de Peralta, however, founded a new city at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in 1607, which he called La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis, the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi.
As a result of the Pueblo Revolt, the native Pueblo people drove the Spaniards out of the area known as New Mexico, maintaining independence from 1680 to 1692, when the territory was reconquered by Don Diego de Vargas. Santa Fe remained Spain's provincial seat until the outbreak of the Mexican War of Independence in 1810. It was considered important to fur traders based in present-day Saint Louis, Missouri. When the area was still under Spanish rule, the Chouteau brothers of Saint Louis gained a monopoly on the fur trade, before the United States acquired Missouri under the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The fur trade contributed to the wealth of St. Louis.
The city's status as the capital of the Mexican territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico was formalized in the 1824 Constitution after Mexico achieved independence from Spain.
When the Republic of Texas seceded from Mexico in 1836, it claimed Santa Fe as part of the western portion of Texas along the Rio Grande. In 1841, a small military and trading expedition set out from Austin, intending to take control of the Santa Fe Trail. Known as the Texan Santa Fe Expedition, the force was poorly prepared and was easily captured by the Mexican army. In 1846, the United States declared war on Mexico. Brigadier General Stephen W. Kearny led the main body of his Army of the West of some 1,700 soldiers into Santa Fe to claim it and the whole New Mexico Territory for the United States. By 1848 the U.S. officially gained New Mexico through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
In 1851, Jean Baptiste Lamy arrived, becoming bishop of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado in 1853. During his leadership, he traveled to France, Rome, Tucson, Los Angeles, St. Louis, New Orleans, and Mexico City. He built the Santa Fe Saint Francis Cathedral and shaped Catholicism in the region until his death in 1888.
As part of the New Mexico Campaign of the Civil War, General Henry Sibley occupied the city, flying the Confederate flag over Santa Fe for a few days in March 1862. Sibley was forced to withdraw after Union troops destroyed his logistical trains following the Battle of Glorieta Pass. The Santa Fe National Cemetery was created by the federal government after the war in 1870 to inter the Union soldiers who died fighting there.
As railroads were extended into the West, Santa Fe was originally envisioned as an important stop on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. But as the tracks were constructed into New Mexico, the civil engineers decided that it was more practical to go through Lamy, a town in Santa Fe County to the south of Santa Fe. A branch line was completed from Lamy to Santa Fe in 1880. The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad extended the narrow gauge Chili Line from the nearby city of Espanola to Santa Fe in 1886.
Neither efforts were sufficient to offset the negative effects of Santa Fe having been bypassed by the main railroad route. It suffered gradual economic decline into the early 20th century. Activists created a number of resources for the arts and archaeology, notably the School of American Research, created in 1907 under the leadership of the prominent archaeologist Edgar Lee Hewett. In the early 20th century, Santa Fe became a base for numerous writers and artists. The first airplane to fly over Santa Fe was piloted by Rose Dugan, carrying Vera von Blumenthal as passenger. Together the two women started the development of the Pueblo Indian pottery industry, helping native women to market their wares. They contributed to the founding of the annual Santa Fe Indian Market.
In 1912, New Mexico was admitted as the United States of America's 47th state, with Santa Fe as its capital.
In 1912, when the town's population was approximately 5,000 people, the city's civic leaders designed and enacted a sophisticated city plan that incorporated elements of contemporary movements for the City Beautiful movement, city planning, and historic preservation; the latter particularly influenced by similar movements in Germany. The plan anticipated limited future growth, considered the scarcity of water, and recognized the future prospects of suburban development on the outskirts. The planners foresaw conflicts between preservationists and scientific planners. They set forth the principle that historic streets and structures be preserved and that new development must be harmonious with the city's character.