Officially founded in 1706, Albuquerque ranks as one of the oldest cities in the U.S. Situated on the Rio Grande and bordered by the beautiful Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque's 11 distinct neighborhoods reflect the rich history and culturally diverse influences of the area.
Weather conditions have also shaped the lifestyle in Albuquerque, with the number of sunny days averaging more than 300 per year. Outdoor enthusiasts have a wide array of recreational options from which to choose, including hiking and biking trails, rock climbing, golf and even skiing.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Albuquerque, being the largest city of New Mexico, is also its economic center, and it accounts for almost half of the state's economic activity. The business activities of the city cover sectors such as government, service, trade, agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and research and development.
The city's medical services and facilities also play a vital role in the development of the local economy. The city attracts nearly 4 million tourists every year to ski the Sandia Mountains and to absorb its ethnic heritage.
Some of the major employers are Kirtland Air Force Base, the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque Public Schools, Sandia National Laboratories and the City of Albuquerque.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
The city is known for its picturesque cityscape in the nighttime, and most of the buildings have exteriors in vibrant colors.
The city has expanded rapidly since the mid-1940s. There is a vast difference in the buildings constructed pre- and-post 1940s. The older areas include the North Valley, South Valley, various neighborhoods near the downtown and Corrales.
The city is divided into four major quadrants:
- The Northeast Quadrant is mostly a residential area and is the largest quadrant both in terms of size and population.
- The Northwest Quadrant portrays the historic culture of the city. This quadrant contains the largest downtown section of the city and is a mixture of commercial, low income, middle income and some of the most expensive homes.
- The Southeast Quadrant is a sharp contrast between the upscale developments and the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods.
- The Southwest Quadrant is often referred to as South Valley and traditionally consisted of agricultural and rural areas. However, this quadrant is presently undergoing rapid developments including large retail stores and subdivisions.
Petroglyph National Monument: At this national park, visitors can wander among the thousands of images carved on basalt rock by the Native Americans and Spanish explorers who lived in the area. Hiking trails also lead to several volcanoes, and archaeological sites dot the park.
Old Town: With 10 blocks of flat-topped, adobe buildings that appear much as they did when built more than 200 years ago, Old Town is Albuquerque's original village. The San Felipe de Neri Church, built in 1793, is one of the most recognizable and popular buildings in the area. Other Old Town attractions include art galleries and museums (among them the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science), more than 100 shops lining the streets (featuring Southwest jewelry, pottery, textiles and crafts) and the Albuquerque Biological Park, which is home to:
- Rio Grande Zoo
- Albuquerque Aquarium
- Rio Grande Botanic Garden
- Tingley Beach
The KiMo Theatre: Located in Downtown Albuquerque, the KiMo Theatre was originally constructed in 1927 as a movie palace and theatre for vaudeville acts. Restored to its original condition, it is a well-known landmark that hosts civic and cultural events throughout the year.
Route 66: Now Central Avenue, this historic road leads through the restaurants and art galleries of Nob Hill and the bright lights of Downtown Albuquerque.
Collegiate sports: These play an important role in the city, and UNM's basketball teams compete in an arena nicknamed The Pit. Originally constructed in 1966, The Pit was built roof first; then contractors excavated the hole and built the arena. Known as one of the loudest arenas in the country, The Pit has undergone several expansions to accommodate the growing crowds of spectators. Sports fans can also catch a baseball game with the Albuquerque Isotopes, basketball with the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, or hockey with the New Mexico Scorpions.
- Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which takes place each October and is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world. Balloon aficionados may also want to visit the Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, which features exhibits on the science and history of hot air ballooning.
- Gathering of Nations Pow-Wow, with singers and dancers representing more than 500 tribes of Native Americans from the United States, Canada and Mexico.
- Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, which features exhibits about the culture and heritage of New Mexico's Pueblo Indians.
- In the winter months, skiers can ride up the Sandia Peak Tramway (the longest passenger tram in the world) to the east side of the Sandia Mountains. Runs are open to beginning and intermediate skiers and snowboarders.
- Award-winning local wines are available in restaurants throughout the city, and many wineries offer tours and tastings.
- Several breweries in Albuquerque allow patrons to taste various blends and even make one of their own.
Albuquerque is home to the University of New Mexico. Founded in 1889 and with almost 25,000 students enrolled, the university is a vibrant part of the community. UNM also serves as a cultural center, housing the University Art Museum, theater and dance companies and a symphony orchestra.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Officially founded in 1706, Albuquerque is one of the oldest cities in the U.S.
- Albuquerque, being the largest city in New Mexico, is also its economic center and accounts for almost half of the state's economic activity.
- Albuquerque was named for a Spanish duke and was originally spelled "Alburquerque." Over time, the first "r" disappeared, though historians offer varying reasons as to why.
- Albuquerque celebrated its 300th birthday in April 2006. Albuquerque is one of only a few U.S. cities that can claim a tricentennial mark.
- New Mexico officially became part of the United States in 1912 as the 47th state.
- Albuquerque's largest employer is the Albuquerque public schools system. It covers a geographic area larger than the state of Rhode Island and serves students who are native speakers of 65 languages.
- Why is Albuquerque nicknamed the Duke City? In memory of the Duke of Albuquerque in Spain. There is still a Duke of Albuquerque in Spain and from time to time, he visits his namesake city.
- The word Albuquerque comes from the Latin words "albus" and "quercus," meaning "white oak." The first "r" in the city's name was discarded over time.
- The original town of Alburquerque (notice the different spelling) is in western Spain near Portugal and has a population of about 8,000.
- Famous Albuquerque residents included the late Ben Abruzzo and Maxie Anderson, who along with Larry Newman piloted the Double Eagle II, the first manned balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
- Repeat winners of the Indianapolis 500 auto race, Al Unser Sr., Al Unser Jr. and Bobby Unser, live in Albuquerque.
- World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle made his home in Albuquerque during his later life. His home is now a part of the Albuquerque Public Library and houses personal memorabilia.
- Coach John Baker, subject of the book and television movie "A Shining Season," lived his highly inspirational life here until his death.
- The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta began in 1972 when a small group of balloonists launched 13 balloons from the parking lot of Coronado Center.
- Today, the Balloon Fiesta has become the largest balloon event in the world, hosting hundreds of pilots and balloons at Balloon Fiesta Park, just off I-25 north.
- The biscochito (bizcochito) was adopted as the official cookie by the New Mexico Legislature in 1989. This act made New Mexico the first to have an official state cookie.
- In 1996 the New Mexico Legislature passed a measure declaring "Red or Green?" the official state question. It was done to signify the impact the chile industry has on the state's economy.
- New Mexico's insignia is the Zia sun symbol, which originated with the Zia Pueblo Indians. Its design reflects their tribal philosophy, teaching the harmony of all things in the universe.
- The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History closed its doors on Kirtland Air Force Base after the Sept. 11 attacks. It opened in its latest location in southeast Albuquerque in 2009.
- Historic neon signs still glow on old Route 66 through Albuquerque, which is now Central Avenue.