Urban to Rural Transect, Taos, Geoff Dyer. About 2005. Courtesy of Town of Taos and Placemakers.






Albuquerque (established 1706)

_Albuquerque, established 1706 although founded as an administrative center known as a villa in 1706, the early settlement consisted of only a few houses clustered around a church completed about 1718, with ranchos stretching north and south along the Rio Grande. In 1779, the governor in Santa Fe ordered the community to consolidate into a fortified plaza to better withstand nomadic Indian raids.

__This regularized plaza appears to have been larger than today, perhaps stretching north one block to the current Church Street. After the original church on the west side of the plaza collapsed in 1790, the community constructed the current one in the northern half of the fortified plaza, thereby reducing it to its current rectangular shape.

__Over the three decades following the American
occupation in 1846, many merchants added whitewashed Territorial style porches in front of their buildings. Then, following the arrival of the railroad in 1881, they also created a plaza park with shade trees and radiating walkways surrounded
by a white picket fence. Many businesses moved to the railroad New Town, although Old Town remained the religious and commercial center for nearby Hispanic farming villages.

__After the designation of Route 66 along Central Avenue two blocks to the south in 1938, the plaza increasingly became a tourist destination. To assure its historic appeal, the city council mandated in 1956 that all new construction be in thethe “Spanish Colonial, Territorial or Western Victorian architectural styles,” thereby mandating a pre-1885 appearance. The gazebo erected in 1969--with its carriage lamps, and cut-out bargeboards trimming its roof and crowning lantern-- is the most prominent manifestation of what was meant by the Western Victorian style.


Further Reading

(in addition to The Plazas of New Mexico)

  • Susan Dewitt, Historic Albuquerque Today: An Overview Survey of Historic Buildings and Districts, (Albuquerque: Historic Landmarks Survey of Albuquerque, 1978).

  • Byron A. Johnson, Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico: A Guide to its History and Architecture, (Albuquerque: City of Albuquerque, 1980).
  • Marc Simmons, Albuquerque: A Narrative History, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982).
  • Nina Veregge, "Transformations of Spanish Urban Landscapes in the American Southwest, 1821-1900" Journal of the Southwest, Winter 1993).


External Links

  • The Albuquerque Museum, Photo Archives
  • /arthistory/photo-archives

  • Duke City Fix
  • Old Town - New Fun
  • University of New Mexico, Center for Southwest Research http://elibrary.unm.edu.cswr/