History of Albuquerque
Albuquerque was founded in 1706 as a Spanish military outpost and a small agricultural community. After 1821, Mexico held a military garrison in the city. Ever since its foundation Albuquerque was under heavy Spanish influence, which can be noted in the outline of the city - there is a central plaza, surrounded by homes, churches and government buildings. Today, this area is known as the “Old Town.”
A federal garrison was established in the city after the United States occupied New Mexico. During the Civil War, the Confederate troops occupied Albuquerque and the Battle of Albuquerque was fought on April 8 of the same year. Railroad reached the town in 1880 and soon new settlers followed, mostly merchants and mountain men. Albuquerque was incorporated as a town in 1885 and as a city in 1891.
By the turn of the century, the city had 8.000 inhabitants and all the necessary infrastructures, including an electric street car. In the early 20th century, many tuberculosis sufferers came to Albuquerque because the dry climate in the city was beneficial for their condition. As a result, many health care establishments were opened, many of which are still in use. First travelers along the Route 66 came in 1926 and the city opened a number of motels, hotels, restaurants and other businesses to accommodate them. The route ran through the city until 1937, when it was rerouted.
The city gained prominence during the Atomic Age, after Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia Base were opened in 1939 and 1940 respectively. In the next decades the city continued to spread outwards, which caused a decline in the urban center, a fate that Albuquerque shared with many other American cities. Many historic buildings were destroyed during the 1960s and the 1970s and replaced with modern plazas, parking lots and skyscrapers.
Geography and Climate
Albuquerque has a total area of 181.3 square miles, most of which is water. The city is located at the northern section of the Chihuahuan Desert eco-region in central New Mexico, near the edge of the Colorado Plateau. It has one of the highest elevations among major U.S. cities, ranging from 4,900 feet at the Rio Grande to 6,700 feet at the foothills of Glenwood Hills and Sandia Heights.
The climate in the city is semi-arid, sunny, dry and hot. Winter is short and not too cold, spring and fall are warm and often windy and summer is long and hot. Heat is tolerable in the city since the humidity is low, except for late summer when there is some extra moisture.
The highest building in Albuquerque is Bank of Albuquerque Tower with 22 floors. The skyline in Albuquerque is lower than what would be expected for a city of its size, however the nature of soil in the city is not favorable for very high structures. The nighttime cityscape of Albuquerque is quite unique, as many buildings in the center are illuminated at night in bright colors, such as blue, green and yellow.
At the 2010 U.S. Census, Albuquerque had a population of 545,852, which is a 21.7% increase compared to 2000. The racial makeup in 2010 was 46.7% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 42.1% White, 3.8% Native American, 2.7% Black or African American, 2.5% Asian and 1.8% from two or more races.
The median household income was $38,272 and the per capita income was $20,884.
Albuquerque represents the center and the largest city in the New Mexico technology Corridor, which consists of high-tech companies and institutions along the course of the Rio Grande.
Largest employers in the city are Kirtland Air Force Base, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque Public Schools, Sandia National Laboratories, Presbyterian Health Systems, State of New Mexico, Lovelace Health System, Intel Corporation, PNM Resources and Bank of Albuquerque.
Intel has a large semiconductor factory in the nearby Rio Rancho and TempurPedic has a mattress factory in northwest Albuquerque.
Albuquerque was ranked the best city in the USA for businesses and careers by Forbes Magazine in 2006.
Points of Interest
Some of the most popular points of interest in the city include Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, New Mexico Museum of Holocaust and Intolerance, Albuquerque Museum, Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, University of New Mexico with its Arboretum and the Art Museum, Albuquerque Biological Park, Rio Grande Zoo, Rio Grande Valley State Park and Rio Grande Nature Center State Park, Sandia Peak Aerial Tram, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, KiMo Theater, Tingley Beach and many more.
Downtown, Uptown and Old Town Albuquerque have a number of small, locally-owned shops, restaurants, bars, cafes and clubs. Ghost tours are available in Old Town through the Southwest Ghosthunters Association.
University of New Mexico is the most important institution of higher education in Albuquerque and the largest public university in New Mexico. Its School of Medicine was among the 50 best medical schools for primary care.
Other institutions of higher education in the city include the National American University, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, Trinity Southwest University, as well as the Ayurvedic Institute, one of the first Ayurveda colleges outside of India.
The primary airport in the city is Albuquerque International Sunport. Intercity rail transportation is provided by Amtrak with its Southwest Chief train and commuter rail is provided by the New Mexico Rail Runner Express.