Located in north-central New Mexico, Albuquerque is the county seat of Bernalillo County. Nicknamed “The Duke City” is the name in honor of the 10th Duke of Alburquerque, who also served as Viceroy of New Spain. As the largest and most populous city in New Mexico, Albuquerque is a center for visual arts, historical attractions, technology and media companies. This vibrant city is known for hosting many fairs and festivals, as well as for its diverse range of restaurants offering delicious New Mexican and international cuisine.
Geography and climate of Albuquerque
Albuquerque lies at the heart of the Albuquerque Basin ecoregion, with its Bosque gallery forest flanked by the Sandia-Manzano Mountains to the east and West Mesa and Petroglyph National Monument to the west. The city has one of the highest elevations compared to any other major city in the country, ranging from 6,700 feet in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains to 4,900 feet in the Rio Grande Valley. The Rio Grande River flows through the city in a north-south direction. Albuquerque covers a total area of 189.5 square miles, of which 187.7 square miles are land and 1.8 square miles are water.
According to the Köppen climate classification, Albuquerque experiences a cold semi-arid climate with hot, dry summers and extremely cold, snowy winters. July is the hottest month of the year with average temperatures between 30 and 28°C. December is the coldest month of the year with average temperatures between 29°F and 49°F. The city receives an average rainfall of 9 inches and an average snowfall of 8 inches.
Brief History of Albuquerque
The presence of several archaeological sites in what is now the Albuquerque area provides evidence of Paleo-Indian cultures dating back more than 12,000 years. Tanoan Puebloans settled in the area around 1250. In the early 1540s, Spanish conquistador Francisco Vazquez de Coronado led an expedition to the area, and after Juan de Onate’s expedition in 1598, the Spanish colonists settled the area. However, the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 drove out these settlers. In 1692 these settlers returned and settled in their abandoned estancias. In 1706, the Spanish governor of New Mexico officially declared the area a “Royal Charter City” and named it Alburquerque. In 1846 the United States took possession of the city.
Albuquerque originally began as a trading and military outpost along the El Camino Real, connecting the northernmost areas of New Spain to Mexico City. The Battle of Albuquerque eventually helped Union forces liberate the area from occupying Confederate forces. Many people began settling here with the arrival of the Santa Fe Railway in 1880, and the city was officially incorporated in 1891. Albuquerque became a key player in the nuclear age with the subsequent establishment of Kirtland Air Force Base, Sandia Base, and Sandia National Laboratories.
Population and Economy of Albuquerque
According to the latest US census, Albuquerque has a population of 560,447 with an average age of 37.1 years. It is currently the 32nd most populous city in the country and the fourth most populous city in the American Southwest. The city has a population density of 2,907.6 people per square mile, making it one of the most sparsely populated major cities in the country. Major ethnic groups in Albuquerque include White (Hispanic) at 32.1%, White (non-Hispanic) at 38.3%, Hispanic (Other and Two+) at 15.9%, and Native American and Alaskan Native at 3.8% %.
Albuquerque has an average household income of $53,936 and an average home value of $204,100. As New Mexico’s leading economic center, the city is responsible for more than half of the state’s economic activity. Albuquerque’s highly diversified economy employs approximately 271,434 people. Some of the city’s largest industries are health and social care, retail, and education services. The city serves as the heart of the New Mexico Technology Corridor, which in turn forms part of the larger Rio Grande Technology Corridor that stretches from southern Colorado to southwestern Texas. Some of the best universities in Albuquerque include Central New Mexico Community College, the main campus of the University of New Mexico, and the Pima Medical Institute.
Attractions in and around Albuquerque
Old Town Albuquerque
Albuquerque’s original historic city, founded in 1706, attracts many visitors and is a well-known tourist destination. In the center of town is Old Town Plaza, surrounded by about ten blocks of historic adobe buildings. These adobe buildings have been converted into art galleries, restaurants, and shops, facilitating daily commercial use.
Located in Old Town, this public art and history museum serves as a repository of artwork from the Southwest United States as well as historical documents and photographs of Albuquerque. Multiple exhibits, artifacts, and permanent installations tell stories about Albuquerque’s rich history and colonial life in New Mexico. The museum plays a significant role in the city’s cultural and educational program.
The historic Kimo Theater is located on the northeast corner of Fifth Street and Central Avenue in downtown Albuquerque. Designed by entrepreneur Oreste Bachechi and his wife and built in 1927, the theater features Pueblo Deco architectural style. Designed by noted architect Carl Heinrich Boller of the Boller Brothers architectural firm, the three-story stucco building is a central feature of downtown Albuquerque. The Kimo Theater was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 2, 1977.
In addition to its many tourist attractions, Albuquerque is known for hosting the International Balloon Fiesta – the largest gathering of hot air balloons in the world, held at Balloon Fiesta Park in early October each year. Another popular event is the New Mexico State Fair, held each year in mid-September at the city’s Expo New Mexico site.