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Overview of Albuquerque,  New Mexico

"Some information from Wikipedia"

Albuquerque New Mexico Overview

Albuquerque, New Mexico

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico, United States. It 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 448,607 as of the 2000 U.S. census. As of the 2005 census estimate, the city's population was 494,236, with a metropolitan population of 797,940. In 2005 Albuquerque ranked as the 33rd-largest city and 62nd-largest metropolitan area in the U.S. The metropolitan population includes the city of Rio Rancho, one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.

ABQ (the code for the city's airport and also a colloquialism for the city) is located where the Interstate highways I-40 and I-25 meet in an interchange which locals refer to as the "Big I."

Albuquerque is home to the University of New Mexico (UNM) and Kirtland Air Force Base as well as Sandia National Laboratories and Petroglyph National Monument. The Sandia Mountains run along the eastern side of Albuquerque and the Rio Grande flows through the city north to south. Albuquerque's climate is usually sunny and dry, averaging around 8-9 inches (250 to 300 mm) of precipitation per year. With more than 300 days of sunshine annually, Albuquerque is considered as having one of the best climates in North America.

The city has hosted the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta every October since 1972.


The city was founded in 1706 as the Spanish colonial outpost of Alburquerque; present-day Albuquerque retains much Spanish cultural and historical heritage.

Alburquerque was a farming community and strategically located military outpost along the Camino Real. The town of Alburquerque 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."

The village was named by the provincial governor Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdes in honour of Don Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, Duke of Alburquerque, viceroy of New Spain from 1653 to 1660. The first "r" in "Alburquerque" was dropped at some point in the 19th century, supposedly by an Anglo-American railroad station-master unable to correctly pronounce the city's name. In the 1990's, the Central Avenue Trolley Buses were emblazoned with the name Alburquerque (note the extra "r" as the fifth letter) in honor of the city's historic name. Throughout 2005 and 2006, the tricentennial celebration is taking place throughout the city. During the Civil War Albuquerque was occupied in February 1862 by Confederate troops under General Henry Hopkins Sibley, who soon afterwards 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. A day-long engagement at long range led to few casualties against a detachment of Union soldiers commanded by Colonel Edward R. S. Canby.

When the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad arrived in 1880, it bypassed the Plaza, locating the passenger depot and railyards about two miles east in what quickly became known as New Albuquerque or New Town. Old Town remained a separate community until the 1940s when it was absorbed by the City of Albuquerque, which had been incorporated in 1891. Albuquerque High School, the city's first high school, was established in 1879.

New Albuquerque quickly became a tidy southwestern town which by 1900 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 UNM campus on the East Mesa. In 1902 the famous Alvarado Hotel was built adjacent to the new passenger depot and remained a symbol of the city until it was torn down 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, and serves as an intermodal hub for local buses, Greyhound buses, and the Rail Runner commuter rail line.

New Mexico's dry climate brought many tuberculosis patients to the city in search of a cure during the early 1900s, and several sanitaria sprang up on the East Mesa to serve them. Presbyterian Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital, two of the largest hospitals in the Southwest, had their beginnings during this period. Influential New Deal-era governor Clyde Tingley and famed southwestern architect John Gaw Meem were among those brought to New Mexico by tuberculosis.

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.

The establishment of Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia National Laboratories, in 1939 and 1949, respectively, would make Albuquerque a key player of the Atomic Age. Meanwhile, the city continued to expand outward onto the East Mesa, reaching a population of 200,000 by 1960.

As Albuquerque spread outward, the downtown area fell into a decline. Many historic buildings were razed in the 1960s and 1970s to make way for new plazas, highrises, and parking lots as part of the city's urban renewal project. Only recently has downtown come to regain much of its urban character, mainly through the construction of many new loft apartment buildings and the renovation of historic structures like the KiMo Theater.

Now in the 21st century, Albuquerque continues to grow quite fast. The population of the city proper is estimated at 494,236 in 2005, up from 448,607 in the 2000 census, and is projected to reach 540,279 in 2010. Also, the metropolitan area population is estimated at 780,439 in 2005, up from 712,738 in the 2000 census, and is projected to reach 855,285 in 2010, and surpass 1 million by 2020.

Climate and geography

Albuquerque's climate is usually sunny and dry with low amounts of humidity. The sun shines more than 300 days a year. Average winter daytime highs are in the upper 40s to low 50s Fahrenheit while dropping into the mid 20s F overnight. The occasional snowfall often melts by the mid-afternoon. Summer daytime highs are normally in the low to mid 90s F while dropping into the 60s F overnight, and the heat is quite tolerable because of low humidity. The Sandia Mountains - named for the watermelon red the mountains turn at dusk - are the predominant geographical feature visible in Albuquerque. The mountains create a rain shadow, and the city receives very little rain: only averaging 8-9 inches (216 mm) of precipitation a year, most of which occurs during the summer monsoonal season that typically starts in July and usually ends in mid-September. During this period, winds originate more from the south to southeast direction and carry moisture from the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico into the region. As this moisture moves into the Albuquerque area (and many other areas in the southwest), a combination of orographic uplift from the mountains, and daytime heating from the sun, causes thunderstorms to develop across the region. This is what causes most of the rain in the Albuquerque area. The clouds as well as the mountains often turn spectacular colors in the evening.

Interesting Facts

The Sandia Mountains which include Sandia Peak are situated to the East of the city. The Sandia Peak Tramway runs from the base of the mountain to the peak, and is the longest single span aerial tramway in the world.

"Sandia" comes from the Spanish for "watermelon". The name is a reference to the the brilliant coloration that appears at sunset: bright pink (melon meat) and green (melon rind). The pink is due to large exposures of granidiorite cliffs, and the green is due to large swaths of conifer forests.

The Rio Grande (Spanish for "big river") flows North to South through the city and supports a riparian forest habitat called a "bosque."

Albuquerque has one of the highest altitudes of any major city in the United States. The elevation of the city ranges from 4900 feet (1490 m) above sea level near the Rio Grande (in the Valley) to 6500 feet (1980 m) in the Northeast Heights. At the airport, the elevation is 5352 feet (1631 m) above sea level. The Rio Grande is classified, like the Nile, as an 'exotic' river because it flows through a desert.

Points of interest

Albuquerque Biological Park
Albuquerque Aquarium
Albuquerque Museum
Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum
Eclipse Aviation
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
Kirtland Air Force Base
Maxwell Museum of Anthropology
National Atomic Museum
National Hispanic Cultural Center
Old Town Albuquerque
Petroglyph National Monument
Rio Grande Botanic Garden
Rio Grande Nature Center and Trail
Rio Grande Zoo
Sandia National Laboratories
Sandia Peak Aerial Tram
Tingley Beach
University of New Mexico
University of New Mexico Arboretum
University of New Mexico Art Museum (includes Jonson Gallery)

Historic landmarks

Ernie Pyle House/Library
Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
First National Bank Building
Jones Motor Co.
KiMo Theater
Kress Store
La Posada de Albuquerque
Santa Fe Railway Shops
Occidental Life Building
Old Albuquerque High School
Old Post Office
Rosenwald Building
San Felipe de Neri Church
Simms Building
Southwestern Brewing & Ice Co.
Sunshine Building

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