World Facts Index > United States > Albuquerque

Albuquerque is a city of diversity. Geographic and historical circumstances have brought Native American, Hispanic and Anglo cultures together to create a unique multicultural community. The land awes and inspires with its changes from the Sandia and Manzano Mountains to the east, the river valley that splits the city in half, to the West Mesa escarpment with its ghosts of volcanic activity. The weather is mild and it is not unusual for a seventy-degree day during the winter where people can be seen snow skiing at Sandia Peak Ski Area in shorts. Albuquerque is a year-round destination for travelers, offering recreational activities such as white water rafting, the Kodak Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, gambling for the high stakes enthusiast, hiking, skiing, world class bird watching, and great dining. The mixture of old-world and new architectural styles is stunning. In spite of the size of the city and all of the amenities that go with big city life, Albuquerque manages to retain a small town charm.

Old Town

Whether you stroll through this historic district on your own, or tour with the Albuquerque Museum, Old Town is the perfect place to begin exploring The Duke City. At the heart of this district is the original central plaza that is lined with over a hundred quaint little shops. Like everything else in Albuquerque a visit to Old Town is a delightful mix of old and new, with sights that range from Civil War cannons to the Church of San Felipe de Neri. A stroll around the plaza will give you a glimpse into the rich history of the area as well as a taste of the tremendous artistic talents showcased in places like The Tanner Chaney Gallery. Stop in The Candy Lady for a delectable chocolate that will tempt the child in everyone. While there take your sense of humor to the adult room for some raucous renditions of the old family recipes. Go further back in time with a trip through the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, or satisfy your childlike curiosity in the Explora! Science Center. Best of all you can stay in the area in the modern luxury of the Sheraton Old Town, or in the elegance of a bed and breakfast like the Bottger-Koch Mansion.


The hub of business and government activity in the city is the bustling downtown area. But business is not the only activity that takes place in this cultural center. The Civic Plaza is host to myriad activities and during summer months, Summerfest is held. This is a celebration of New Mexico's many cultures that showcases the food, music and dance of a different ethnic group every Saturday. If the Civic Plaza is downtown's outdoor venue, the newly renovated KiMo Theater is the city's crown jewel of indoor venues for the performing arts. The Hyatt Regency, one of the city's newest luxury hotels dominates the downtown skyline. With two lounges and a restaurant that offers fine dining, this is the ultimate hotel for the business traveler.


This region of Albuquerque boomed following the second World War when Route 66 became an artery for interstate travel and migration to the west. The residential neighborhoods are quaint tree-lined streets with 1950s ranch-style homes and a sprinkling of well-groomed parks. The uptown district is the retail center of the city. Two large, indoor shopping malls, Winrock Center and Coronado Center, lie within a mile of each other. Restaurateurs have taken advantage of the traffic generated by these centers. The Japanese Kitchen sushi bar caters to local businessmen and shoppers alike. The Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown offers a range of rates for all levels of business travelers. If you are overwhelmed by the district's hole-in-the-wall and specialty eateries, try the hotel's Classic Grille, offering meals with a Southwestern flair. If you're visiting over the weekend, be sure to drop in for the Fajitas-and-Margaritas-for-Two special.

Nob Hill/University

This eccentric area is a mix of art deco, Spanish colonial, pueblo, and modern architectural styles. It has undergone a recent facelift and the Nob Hill Merchants Association has revitalized and reclaimed this once run-down neighborhood. Once bland strip malls now house a mix of retailers, galleries and coffee houses that cater to students from the nearby University of New Mexico as well as the locals who drop in for a little gossip. Closer to the university are a variety of restaurants, delis and sidewalk cafes that offer fare from the far reaches of world. The award-winning Olympia Café has offered authentic Greek cuisine from the same location since 1972. Just east of the Nob Hill area lie the New Mexico State Fair grounds, home of the sixth largest state fair in the US.

Northeast Heights

The sheer, pink granite Sandia Mountains provide a picturesque backdrop for this sprawling area which contain some of the newest developments within the city limits. One of Albuquerque's landmark features is the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway. For an unforgettable evening, punctuated by one of the most awe inspiring views in the Western United States, catch a ride on the tram to the top of the mountains where you can enjoy a sunset meal at the High Finance Restaurant. A drive past the opulent mansions that perch on the boulder strewn foothills of the mountains will take you to the hikers' Mecca of Albuquerque. Elena Gallegos Park offers miles of trails through the sage and juniper hills. On the north end of the mountains, La Luz Trail winds to the soaring heights of Sandia Crest, where hang gliders ride the warm air currents that rise from the valley floor.

West Mesa

The silicon age drives the economy of one of the fastest growing regions in the country. The Intel Corporation has sparked a massive boom on the city's west side. As new neighborhoods sprawl across the mesa, their growth is steered by the basalt escarpment of Petroglyph National Monument. A hike down the trails of this unique treasure offers visitors a glimpse into New Mexico's prehistoric past. Shopping abounds at the new Cottonwood Mall, the state's largest indoor mall. The Hilton Garden Inn, across the street from the Intel complex, offers a central location for the visitor with business on the west side. A drive down Coors Boulevard after dark offers a remarkable vista. The city becomes a sea of light that stretches from the distant mountains to the cottonwood Bosque of the Rio Grande.

North Valley/South Valley

The Rio Grande Valley offers the visitor a glimpse at what the Spanish explorers saw in the fifteenth century when they rode north along the Rio Grande del Norte. The economic diversity of the city unravels as you follow Rio Grande Boulevard from north to south. Some of the homes in the south valley have withstood the test of time for hundreds of years. Nestled among these ancient dwellings are the Albuquerque Country Club and the Rio Grande Zoological Park. A new addition to the south valley is the Albuquerque Aquarium and Rio Grande Botanic Gardens, where you can dine with the sharks in their exclusive restaurant.

The North Valley is home to some of the city's more prominent families. The world famous racing family, the Unsers, have an estate here. Set in the adobe walls that surround the estate are wheels from cars that actually ran at the Indianapolis 500. Giant, ancient cottonwoods shade bridle paths and walking trails. The River Horse Ranch offers visitors an opportunity to take guided or unguided rides along the banks of the river. A nice way to end the day is a visit to the Anderson Vineyards, where you can taste one of New Mexico's premier wines.

East Mountains

Surrounded by majestic ponderosa pines and expansive vistas, this area is growing faster than some people like. Populated with a mix of income groups, age groups, and ethnic backgrounds, the east mountain area is seen as a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the big city. You can ski Sandia Peak Ski Area in the morning and golf at Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club in the afternoon. Lodging in the East Mountains is limited to bed and breakfasts and
Elaine's is a peaceful place to end the day. The frenetic pace of the city is forgotten as visitors can enjoy a hot drink by the fire, or sit on the porch watching the hummingbirds chase each other among the pines.

History of Albuquerque

The Rio Grande has always brought life to the inhabitants of the Albuquerque Valley. The river provided water to traders and nomads as they made their way across the high desert. As early as 500 A.D., pockets of civilization began to appear along the river that served as the principal trade route between the pre-pueblo culture and other groups who lived to the north. For over six centuries, this culture thrived as the people developed transportation and communication networks. The bounty of the region provided rich soil for farming, and the nearby mountains harbored wildlife for hunting. Although not a city by civilized standards, at least 15,000 people were cultivating the Middle Rio Grande Valley by the 15th century.

But the river that brought life to this peaceful civilization also served as a conduit for Spanish conquest. In 1540, under the command of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, a group of Spanish explorers encountered the natives when they traveled north from Mexico in search of the mythical Seven Cities of Cibola. At first, the Indians welcomed the new travelers with open arms, but the Spanish viewed the natives as heathens and therefore inferior. The two cultures inevitably clashed. Coronado set up his winter quarters in one of the pueblos, Tiguex (present-day Bernalillo near Albuquerque). This was a harsh winter for the Spanish as they suffered from fierce attacks by the natives. One year later, Coronado returned to Tiguex on his trip back to Mexico. This was to be the beginning of the Spanish colonization of this area now known to Europeans as Nuevo Mexico. The remains of Tiguex now form the heart of Coronado State Monument.

More than a century passed and the American Southwest was claimed as Spanish territory. Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdez, the territory's provisional governor, petitioned the crown for permission to establish a villa in the area in 1706. He proposed naming the new settlement, San Francisco Xavier de Alburquerque - in honor of the Duke who was responsible for preliminary approval of Cuervo's application. This settlement was nicknamed "The Duke's City" by the Spanish settlers. The 18 original families lived in a walled village in an area now known as Old Town. In later years, Anglo settlers shortened the name to Albuquerque leaving out the first "r".

The Spanish colonies grew and in 1821, Mexico declared its independence from Spain. The new government opened Nuevo Mexico to trade with the Americans. Under the spell of Jefferson's Manifest Destiny, Americans began settling in territory claimed by the young Mexican government. When the United States annexed the Texas Republic in 1845, Congress sent troops to the Rio Grande to protect the new territory. Clashes with Mexican forces eventually led to a declaration of war with Mexico in 1846. Two years later, U.S. General Stephen Kearny declared New Mexico a United States Territory and established a military outpost in Albuquerque.

Less than 20 years passed before another flag flew briefly in the skies above New Mexico, when the Confederate Army briefly occupied Albuquerque during the Civil War. 1880 marked the arrival of the railroad that changed the city dramatically and forever. The train depot divided the city into two districts, Old Town and New Town. The people who arrived in the next five years began to outnumber the original inhabitants. This brought changes in architectural style and the city's ethnic makeup. Soon afterward, telephone and electricity made their debut.

Albuquerque was incorporated as a town in 1885 and just six years later was recognized as a city. New Mexico was admitted to the United States in 1912, becoming the 47th state in the Union. Albuquerque's mild year-round weather brought about the building of sanatoriums that attracted many invalids from around the world. Two of the sanatoriums operating at that time are still standing today; Presbyterian Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital. In 1926, the United States established the first transcontinental highway, Route 66. This transformed Albuquerque's "main drag" into a thriving tourist attraction. In 1928, Albuquerque's airport opened, officially internationalizing travel to the city.

The First World War had very little effect on the thriving city, but this was not true for World War II. In 1942, the United States government built Kirtland Air Force Base that became integrally involved in the Manhattan Project. After the war, Sandia National Laboratories, a research and development facility was built on Kirtland. This top-secret facility became even more important during the Cold War. Sandia Labs has helped Albuquerque establish a reputation as one of the world's top high-tech research and development cities.

Albuquerque has made a commitment in recent years to preserving both its ancient and recent past. The city council's Quality of Life Tax has generated funds for the purchase and protection of many acres of open space and the enhancement of existing facilities. Old Town is now a thriving tourist center; Downtown is the subject of an ongoing and highly successful revitalization project. The All-Indian Pueblo Council created The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center documenting and celebrating Pueblo Indian history and accomplishments.

The Weather

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High 46 54 61 70 78 90 92 88 81 71 57 47
Avg. Low 21 26 32 38 48 58 64 62 55 44 31 24
Mean 34 40 47 55 64 74 78 76 68 57 44 35
Avg. Precip. 0.4 in 0.5 in 0.5 in 0.5 in 0.5 in 0.6 in 1.4 in 1.6 in 1.0 in 0.9 in 0.4 in 0.5 in


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