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A Brief History of Albuquerque
Evidence of one of the first inhabitants - Sandia Man - is preserved just northeast of Albuquerque in the Sandia Mountains. By the year 800 A.D., the Anasazi Indians were established in central and northern New Mexico, a culture that reached its height in the mid-12th Century at Chaco Canyon, the hub of a network of communities some 150 miles northwest of Albuquerque. New influences came with the Athapaskan-speaking nomads from the North. These Native Americans' descendants are with us today in the Navajo and Apache tribes. The Anasazi, whose own culture disappeared mysteriously in the 13th Century, are believed to live on through descendants now populating Indian towns or "pueblos" concentrated in the Rio Grande Valley.
The Spanish then turned their attentions to colonizing the area and converting the Native Americans to Christianity. Unfortunately, their methods were harsh, and after years of Spanish oppression, the Pueblos and Apaches in 1860 struck back in one of the few successful Native American revolts in American history.
Control of New Mexico was regained by the Spanish in 1692, and for more than a century they ruled the areas as a viceroyalty. When Mexico declared its independence in 1821, New Mexico became one of its territories. Then, when fighting erupted between the United States and Mexico in 1846, Col. Stephen W. Kearny and his soldiers captured Santa Fe, declaring New Mexico a part of the United States. That declaration was confirmed two years later when New Mexico was formally ceded to the United States as a territory. It would not become a state until 1912.
Albuquerque: The Foundations of a City
Albuquerque has its beginnings back in 1692 when 30 families from Bernalillo - now a small community 15 miles north of Albuquerque - settled in 1706. They named their new town San Francisco de Alburquerque, after the Duke of Alburquerque, the viceroy of New Spain. The extra "r" was later dropped.
Albuquerque offered good protection from marauding Native Americans, and some 6000 people lived there by 1790. It has remained the state's largest city since then. The railroad era heralded a boom for Albuquerque, starting with the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe in 1879. The city's population had doubled before the territory gained statehood in 1912.
Over the years, Albuquerque became known as a health resort where a dry, sunny climate cured whatever ills a person had and made the healthy feel even better.
The original city center saw the focus of activity shift a few miles east when the railroad arrived. The old section, the Spanish heart of the city, became known as Old Town, and has been preserved as a historical district. It is one of the prime attractions for visitors to the city today.
Albuquerque's War-Time, Scientific Boom
During World War II, the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, as well as Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory to the north, put New Mexico on the map as a scientific research center. It was Los Alamos that served as the super-secret nerve center for the development and testing of the first atomic bomb.
In recent years, the Albuquerque Downtown area saw itself rivaled by yet a newer district of shopping malls and other businesses known as Uptown. Downtown Albuquerque has since been undergoing a renewal, including restoration of the "Pueblo Deco" style Kimo Theater, construction of a new Federal courthouse, development of several plazas, and new office construction as well as restoration of such historic buildings as the Las Posada Hotel.
Today, Albuquerque sprawls over 128 square miles and continues to grow faster than most cities in the United States. Following years of development eastward to the Sandias, expansion is now shifting to the West, where vast stretches of open land are available for homes and businesses.