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Albuquerque - 300 Year Old Duke City

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Greetings from Albuquerque Postcard

Greetings From Albuquerque Postcard



Albuquerque’s history dates back 12,000 years when the Ancient Puebloan Indians settled in the area. Living here for two centuries between the years 1000 to 1300, this inspiring group planted corn, beans and squash and constructed adobe and brick pit homes along the banks of the Rio Grande. Further, they established several communities throughout northeastern New Mexico, connecting them with sophisticated roads.

Then, in 1540, Conquistador Francisco Vasquez de Coronado came north in search of the mythical Seven Cities of Cibola. Though Coronado left empty handed, it didn’t stop even more Spanish settlers arriving in the area, looking for the elusive gold. The Pueblo Rebellion of 1680 discouraged further settlement until Spanish General Don Diego de Vargas arrived in 1692. By the end of the 16th century, several trading posts were established just north of the present day city.

By the beginning of the 17th century, the area that would one day become Albuquerque was called Bosque Grande de San Francisco Xavier. In 1706, the ambitious provisional governor of the territory, Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdez, petitioned the Spanish government for permission to establish the bosque as a formal villa and call it Albuquerque, after Viceroy Francisco Fernandez de la Cueva, the Duke of Albuquerque. Later the spelling was changed because some influential person couldn't pronounce the "R" in Albuquerque. The city is still nicknamed "Duke City.”

During much of the 18th and 19th century, Albuquerque was little more than a dusty trading center along the El Camino Real, the trail linking Mexico and Santa Fe. Close-knit families of Spanish descent accounted for most of the population living around the central plaza, in what is now Old Town.

This began to change when Josiah Gregg, a frontiersman and trailblazer established the Old Fort Smith Wagon Road between Arkansas and Santa Fe in 1839. For ten years, people cared little about the trail until the California Gold Rush of 1849, when it became heavily traveled by those pioneers seeking their fortunes in the far west.


In 1846, the United States claimed the territory when General Stephen Kearny established an army post. During the Civil War, Confederate troops briefly occupied Albuquerque, but once the war was over, white merchants and tradesmen began to arrive in numbers.




When the railroad steamed through in 1880, the city changed drastically, bringing in hundreds of white settlers and changing the demographics and architecture of the city. Numerous new businesses were established around the new railroad and the city began to grow. By 1885, Albuquerque was incorporated.


In 1889, the University of New Mexico was founded in Albuquerque, bringing with it, not only knowledge, but also new and different cultures to the community.


Growth continued steadily into the 20th century and saw another spurt when Route 66 brought a steady stream of traffic right through the city. Before the 1930’s, Albuquerque’s Main Street, now called Central Avenue, consisted of a few motor courts, gas stations, campgrounds and a café. In no time at all new motels, restaurants and services, complete with neon signs, began to compete for the attention of Mother Road travelers. A cafe shaped like an iceberg, opened for business on the present site of the Lobo Theatre; a sombrero-shaped restaurant offered Mexican food, and the Aztec Lodge and De Anza Motor Lodge presented pueblo-inspired accommodations.


Albuquerque Plaze, 1908

Old Town Plaza in 1908.

This image available for photographic prints HERE.



When the realignment of Route 66 was completed in 1937, there were more motels on Central Avenue than had been built in the previous ten to twelve years on the other alignment. By 1955, there were more than 100 motels on Albuquerque's Central Avenue and in the summer, it was hard to find an open room.




Continued Next Page



Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico

Old Town Albuquerque, January, 2015, Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

This image available for photographic prints HERE.



Gas and Eat, Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Rio Pecos Oil Company's Gas & Eat Cafe was shaped like an iceberg, enticing Route 66 travelers in for a cool drink or bit of ice cream. Unfortunately, this Route 66 icon is gone today. Photo, 1943.


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