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Albuquerque ( ; ; known as Bee'eldííldahsinil in Navajo, variants: Be'eldííldahsinil and Be'eldíílasinil meaning 'metal objects [bell?]-be large-up-lying', thus 'large metal objects [bells?] in position above' or 'place of the peals [bells] above') is the largest city in the state of New Mexicomarker, United Statesmarker. It is the county seat of Bernalillo Countymarker and is situated in the central part of the state, straddling the Rio Grandemarker. The city population was 521,999 as of July 1, 2008, according to U.S. census estimates, and ranks as the 34th-largest city in the U.S. As of June 2007, the city was the 6th fastest growing in America. With a metropolitan population of 845,913 as of July 1, 2008, Albuquerque is the 59th-largest United States metropolitan area. The Albuquerque MSA population includes the city of Rio Ranchomarker, one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Roughly half of the population of the state of New Mexicomarker lives in the Albuquerque area.

Albuquerque is home to the University of New Mexicomarker (UNM), Kirtland Air Force Basemarker, Sandia National Laboratoriesmarker, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, and Petroglyph National Monumentmarker. The Sandia Mountains run along the eastern side of Albuquerque, and the Rio Grandemarker flows through the city, north to south.


Early settlers

The city was founded in 1706 as the Spanishmarker colonial outpost of Ranchos de Alburquerque ; present-day Albuquerque retains much of the Spanish cultural and historical heritage.

Albuquerque was a farming community and strategically located military outpost along the Camino Real. The town of Alburquerque was built in the traditional Spanish village pattern: a central plaza surrounded by government buildings, homes, and a church. This central plaza area has been preserved and is open to the public as a museum, cultural area, and center of commerce. It is referred to as "Old Town Albuquerque" or simply "Old Town." "Old Town" was sometimes referred to as "La Placita" ("little plaza" in Spanish).

The village was named by the provincial governor Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdes in honour of Don Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, viceroy of New Spain from 1653 to 1660. One of de la Cueva's aristocratic titles was Duke of Alburquerque, referring to the Spanish town of Alburquerquemarker.

The Alburquerque family name dates from pre-12th century Iberia (Spainmarker and Portugalmarker) and is habitational in nature (de Alburquerque = from Alburquerque). The Spanish village of Alburquerquemarker is within the Badajozmarker province of Extremaduramarker region, and located just fifteen miles (24 km) from the Portuguese border. Cork trees dominate the landscape and Alburquerque is a center of the Spanish cork industry. Over the years, this region has been alternately under both Spanish and Portuguese rule. It is interesting to note that the name of the New Mexico city of Albuquerque follows the Portuguese spelling with only one 'r'. Historically, the land around Alburquerque was invaded and settled by the Moors (711 AD) and the Romans (218 BC) before them. Thus, the word Alburquerque may be rooted in the Arabic (Moorish) 'Abu al-Qurq', which means "father of the cork oak", or "land of the cork oak" (the land as father – fatherland). Alternately, it may be Latin (Roman) in origin and from 'albus quercus' or "white oak" (the wood of the cork oak is white after the bark has been removed). The seal of the Spanish village of Alburquerque is a white oak tree, framed by a shield, topped by a crown.

Spain established a Presidio in Albuquerque from 1706. After 1821, Mexico also had a military garrison there.

Following the American occupation of New Mexico, Albuquerque had a Federal garrison and quartermaster depot, the Post of Albuquerque, from 1846 to 1867. During the Civil War Albuquerque was occupied in February 1862 by Confederate troops under General Henry Hopkins Sibley, who soon afterwards advanced with his main body into northern New Mexico. During his retreat from Union troops into Texasmarker he made a stand on April 8, 1862, at Albuquerque and fought the Battle of Albuquerque against a detachment of Union soldiers commanded by Colonel Edward R. S. Canby. This day-long engagement at long range led to few casualties.

When the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad arrived in 1880, it bypassed the Plaza, locating the passenger depot and railyards about 2 miles (3 km) east in what quickly became known as New Albuquerque or New Town. To quell its then rising violent crime rate, gunman Milt Yarberry was appointed the town's first Marshal that same year. New Albuquerque was incorporated as a town in 1885, with Henry N. Jaffa its first mayor, and incorporated as a city in 1891. Old Town remained a separate community until the 1920s when it was absorbed by the City of Albuquerque. Albuquerque High Schoolmarker, the city's first public high school, was established in 1879.

Early 20th century

Depiction of Central Avenue, circa early 20th century
New Albuquerque quickly became a tidy southwestern town which by 1900 boasted a population of 8,000 inhabitants and all the modern amenities including an electric street railway connecting Old Town, New Town, and the recently established UNMmarker campus on the East Mesa. In 1902 the famous Alvarado Hotel was built adjacent to the new passenger depot and remained a symbol of the city until it was torn down in 1970 to make room for a parking lot. In 2002, the Alvarado Transportation Centermarker was built on the site in a manner resembling the old landmark. The large metro station functions as the downtown headquarters for the city's transit department, and serves as an intermodal hub for local buses, Greyhound buses, Amtrak passenger trains, and the Rail Runner commuter rail line.

New Mexico's dry climate brought many tuberculosis patients to the city in search of a cure during the early 1900s, and several sanitaria sprang up on the West Mesa to serve them. Presbyterian Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital, two of the largest hospitals in the Southwest, had their beginnings during this period. Influential New Deal-era governor Clyde Tingley and famed southwestern architect John Gaw Meem were among those brought to New Mexico by tuberculosis.

Decades of growth

Albuquerque at dusk in 2007.
In June 2007, Albuquerque was listed as the 6th fastest growing city in America by CNN and the US Census Bureau.

The first travelers on Route 66 appeared in Albuquerque in 1926, and before long, dozens of motels, restaurants, and gift shops had sprung up along the roadside to serve them. Route 66 originally ran through the city on a north-south alignment along Fourth Street, but in 1937 it was realigned along Central Avenue, a more direct east-west route. The intersection of Fourth and Central downtown was the principal crossroads of the city for decades. The majority of the surviving structures from the Route 66 era are on Central, though there are also some on Fourth. Signs between Bernalillomarker and Los Lunasmarker along the old route now have brown, historical highway markers denoting it as Pre-1937 Route 66.

The establishment of Kirtland Air Force Basemarker in 1939, Sandia Base in the early 1940s, and Sandia National Laboratoriesmarker in 1949, would make Albuquerque a key player of the Atomic Age. Meanwhile, the city continued to expand outward onto the West Mesa, reaching a population of 201,189 by 1960. In 1990 it was 384,736 and in 2007 it was 518,271.

Albuquerque's downtown entered the same phase and development (decline, "urban renewal" with continued decline, and gentrification) as nearly every city across the United States. As Albuquerque spread outward, the downtown area fell into a decline. Many historic buildings were razed in the 1960s and 1970s to make way for new plazas, high-rises, and parking lots as part of the city's urban renewal phase. Only recently has downtown come to regain much of its urban character, mainly through the construction of many new loft apartment buildings and the renovation of historic structures like the KiMo Theatermarker, in the gentrification phase.

New millennium

During the 21st century, the Albuquerque population has continued to grow rapidly. The population of the city proper is estimated at 521,999 in 2008, up from 448,607 in the 2000 census. The metropolitan area population is estimated at 845,913 in 2008, up from 729,649 in the 2000 census.

During 2005 and 2006, the city celebrated its tricentennial with a diverse program of cultural events.

Mesa del Sol is a new large master-planned community currently being developed in Albuquerque, that is projected to bring in 100,000 residents and 40,000 more jobs.

Urban trends and issues

Aerial photo of Albuquerque as seen from I-40 and I-25 interchange northeast of downtown area.
Rio Grande River shown in background
Government leaders and many citizens in the city have actively pursued urban projects taken on by cities many times larger . This has resulted in the successful revitalization of downtown, creating restaurants, offices, and residential lofts. The strip of Central Avenue between First and Eighth streets has become a hub of urban life. Alvarado Station provides convenient access to other parts of the city via ABQ RIDE, the city bus system. The city wants to provide better public transportation opportunities to ease the city's growing traffic woes. A street car is being considered and would initially extend up the Central Avenue corridor from the westside, through downtown, past UNM and the Nob Hill district, and into the Uptown Area.

Many citizens fear Albuquerque may be growing beyond its means. A majority of residents want to avoid increasing crime and traffic, worsening air quality, stressing water supplies, and encroaching on the natural environment. Many feel these are the negative consequences of persistent sprawl development patterns.

On March 23, 2007, the city's mayor Martin Chavez announced his plan to brand the city "the Q". Despite various opinions as to what the city's nickname should be, Mayor Chavez is continuing to push his initiative.

Soy de Burque, "I am from Burque", is one response to the mayor's vision of a "hip" reincarnation". This group of Albuquerque’s residents feels it is unnecessary to spend taxpayer money to hire marketing companies to brand their city with a more palatable nickname, recognizing the city already has a brand and nickname. This selling of a city’s cultural identity to marketing and advertising firms to brand and sell has been dubbed by Soy de Burque as culture branding. One central issue to their response is the branding campaign was never voted on, but rather declared by Mayor Chavez, and outsourced to marketing and advertising firms.

The passage of the Planned Growth Strategy in 2002–2004 marked the community's strongest effort to create a framework for a more balanced and sustainable approach to urban growth.

"A critical finding of the study is that many of the 'disconnects' between the public's preferences and what actually is taking place are caused by weak or non-existent implementation tools - rather than by inadequate policies, as contained in the City/County Comprehensive Plan and other already adopted legislation."

Urban sprawl is limited on three sides by the Pueblo of Sandia to the north, the Pueblo of Isleta and Kirtland Air Force Basemarker to the south, and the Sandia Mountains to the east. Suburban growth continues at a strong pace to the west beyond the Petroglyph National Monument, once thought to be a natural boundary to sprawl development.

Because of cheaper land and lower taxes, much of the growth in the metropolitan area is taking place outside of the City of Albuquerque itself. In Rio Rancho to the northwest, the communities east of the mountains, and the incorporated parts of Valencia County, population growth rates approach twice that of the city. The primary cities in Valencia County are Los Lunasmarker and Belenmarker, both of which are home to growing industrial complexes and new residential subdivisions. The Mid Region Council of Governments (MRCOG), which includes constituents from throughout the Albuquerque area, was formed to insure that these governments along the middle Rio Grande would be able to meet the needs of their rapidly rising populations. MRCOG's cornerstone project is the New Mexico Rail Runner Express.


Sandia Peak Ski Area on the Sandia Mountains.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Albuquerque has a total area of 181.3 square miles (469.6 km²). 180.6 square miles (467.8 km²) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km²) of it (0.35%) is water. The metro area has over developed.

Albuquerque lies within the northern, upper edges of the Chihuahuan Desert ecoregion, based on long-term patterns of climate, associations of plants and wildlife, and landforms, including drainage patterns. Located in central New Mexico, the city also has noticeable influences from the adjacent Colorado Plateau Semi-Desert, Arizona-New Mexico Mountains, and Southwest Plateaus and Plains Steppe ecoregions, depending on where one is located. Its main geographic connection lies with southern New Mexico, while culturally, Albuquerque is a crossroads of most of New Mexico.

Albuquerque has one of the highest elevations of any major city in the United States, though the effects of this are greatly tempered by its southwesterly continental position. The elevation of the city ranges from 4,900 feet (1,490 m) above sea level near the Rio Grande (in the Valley) to over 6,700 feet (1,950 m) in the foothill areas of Sandia Heights and Glenwood Hills. At the airport, the elevation is 5,352 feet (1,631 m) above sea level.

The Rio Grande is classified, like the Nile, as an 'exotic' river because it flows through a desert. The New Mexico portion of the Rio Grande lies within the Rio Grande Rift Valley, bordered by a system of faults, including those that lifted up the adjacent Sandia and Manzano Mountains, while lowering the area where the life-sustaining Rio Grande now flows.

Albuquerque is located at (35.110703, -106.609991).


Albuquerque's climate is usually sunny and dry, with low relative humidity. Brilliant sunshine defines the region, averaging more than 300 days a year; periods of variably mid and high-level cloudiness temper the sun at other times. Extended cloudiness is rare. The city has four distinct seasons, but the heat and cold are mild compared to the extremes that occur more commonly in other parts of the country.

Winters are rather brief but definite; daytime highs range from the mid 40s to upper 50s Fahrenheit, while the overnight lows drop into the low 20s to near 30 by sunrise; nights are often colder in the valley and uppermost foothills by several degrees, or during cold frontal passages from the Great Basin or Rocky Mountains. The occasional snowfall, associated with low pressure areas, fronts and troughs, often melts by the mid-afternoon; over half of the scant winter moisture occurs in the form of light rain showers, usually brief in duration. In the much higher and colder Sandia Mountains, moisture falls as snow; many years have enough snow to create decent skiing conditions at the local ski area.

Spring time starts off windy and cool, sometimes unsettled with some rain and even light snow, though spring is usually the driest part of the year in Albuquerque. March and April tend to see many days with the wind blowing at , and afternoon gusts can produce periods of blowing sand and dust. In May, the winds tend to subside, as temperatures start to feel like summer.

Summer daytime highs range from the upper 80s to the upper 90's, while dropping into the low 60s to low 70s overnight; the valley and uppermost foothills are often several degrees cooler than that. The heat is quite tolerable because of low humidity, except during the late summer during increased humidity from surges in the monsoonal pattern; at that time, daytime highs drop slightly but the extra moisture in the air can cause nighttime temperatures to increase.

Fall sees mild days and cool nights with less rain, though the weather can be more unsettled closer to winter.

The city was one of several in the region experiencing a severe winter storm on December 28–30, 2006, with locations in Albuquerque receiving between of snow.

Albuquerque's climate is classified as arid (BWk or BWh, depending on the particular scheme of the Köppen climate classification system one uses), meaning average annual precipitation is less than half of evaporation, and the mean temperature of the coldest month is above freezing (32F). Only the wettest areas of the Sandia foothills are barely semi-arid, where precipitation is more than half of, but still less than, evaporation; such areas are localized and usually lie above in elevation and often in arroyo drainages, signified by a slightly denser, taller growth of evergreen oak–juniper–pinon chaparral and rarely, woodland, often mixed with taller desert grasses. These elevated foothill areas still border arid areas, best described as desert grassland or desert shrub, on their west sides.

Traveling to the west, north and east of Albuquerque, one quickly rises in elevation and leaves the sheltering effect of the valley to enter a noticeably cooler and slightly wetter environment. One such area is still considered part of metro Albuquerque, commonly called the "East Mountain" area; it is covered in savannas or woodlands of low juniper and pinon trees, reminiscent of the lower parts of the southern Rocky Mountains, which do not actually contact Albuquerque proper.

Those mountains and highlands beyond the city create a "rain shadow" effect, due to the drying of descending air movements; the city usually receives very little rain or snow, averaging 8–9 inches (216 mm) of precipitation per year. Valley and west mesa areas, farther from the mountains are drier, averaging 6–8 inches of annual precipitation; the Sandia foothills tend to lift any available moisture, enhancing precipitation to about 10–17 inches annually. Most precipitation occurs during the summer monsoon season (also called a chubasco in Mexico), typically starting in early July and ending in mid-September.


Satellite image of Albuquerque taken by NASA.

The Sandia Mountains are the predominant geographic feature visible in Albuquerque. "Sandía" is Spanish for "watermelon", and is popularly believed to be a reference to the brilliant coloration of the mountains at sunset: bright pink (melon meat) and green (melon rind). The pink is due to large exposures of granodiorite cliffs, and the green is due to large swaths of conifer forests. However, Robert Julyan notes in The Place Names of New Mexico, "the most likely explanation is the one believed by the Sandia Pueblo Indians: the Spaniards, when they encountered the Pueblo in 1540, called it Sandia, because they thought the squash growing there were watermelons, and the name Sandia soon was transferred to the mountains east of the pueblo." He also notes that the Sandia Pueblo Indians call the mountain Bien Mur, "big mountain."

The Sandia foothills, on the west side of the mountains, have soils derived from that same rock material with varying sizes of decomposed granite, mixed with areas of clay and caliche (a calcareous clay common in the arid southwestern USA), along with some exposed granite bedrock.

Below the foothills, the area usually called the "Heights" consists of a mix of clay and caliche soils, overlain by a layer of decomposed granite, resulting from long-term outwash of that material from the adjacent mountains. This bajada is quite noticeable when driving into Albuquerque from the north or south, due to its fairly uniform slope from the mountains' edge downhill to the valley. Sand hills are scattered along the I-25 corridor and directly above the Rio Grande valley, forming the lower end of the Heights.

The Rio Grande valley, due to long-term shifting of the actual river channel, contains layers and areas of soils varying between caliche, clay, loam, and even some sand. It is the only part of Albuquerque where the water table often lies close to the surface, sometimes less than .

The last significant area of Albuquerque geologically is the West Mesa: this is the elevated land west of the Rio Grande, including the sandy terrace immediately west and above the river, and the rather sharply defined volcanic escarpment above and west of most of the developed city. The west mesa commonly has soils often referred to as "blow sand", along with occasional clay and caliche and even basalt, nearing the escarpment.


Tingley Beach in downtown Albuquerque, along the Rio Grande river.

Albuquerque's drinking water presently comes from a delicate aquifer that was once described as an "underground Lake Superiormarker". The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) has developed a water resources management strategy, which pursues conservation and the direct extraction of water from the Rio Grande for the development of a stable underground aquifer in the future.

The aquifer of the Rio Puerco is too saline to cost-effectively use for drinking purposes.

Much of the rainwater that Albuquerque receives does not recharge its aquifer. It is diverted through storm drains called arroyo, to the Rio Grandemarker. The water flowing in the Rio Grande was thought to recharge Albuquerque's aquifer, however, it is actually separated from the rest of the water table.

Of the per year of the water in the upper Colorado Rivermarker basin entitled to municipalities in New Mexico by the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact, Albuquerque owns 48,200. The water is delivered to the Rio Grande by the San JuanChama Project. The project's construction was initiated by legislation enacted by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, and completed in 1971. This diversion project transports water under the continental divide from Navajo Lakemarker to Lake Heron on the Rio Chama, a tributary of the Rio grande. Presently, this water is resold to downstream owners in Texasmarker. These arrangements will end in 2008 with the completion of the ABCWUA's Drinking Water Supply Project.

This project will, using a system of adjustable height dams, skim water from the Rio Grande into sluices which will lead to water treatment facilities for direct conversion to potable water. Some water will be allowed to flow through central Albuquerque, mostly to protect the endangered Rio Grande Silvery Minnow. Treated effluent water will be recycled into the Rio Grande to the South of the city. The ABCWUA expects river water to comprise up to seventy percent of its water budget in 2060. Groundwater will still be used. One of the policies of the ABCWUA's strategy is the acquisition of additional river water.



10 Tallest Buildings in Albuquerque
Name Height Floors
Albuquerque Plazamarker 22
Hyatt Regency Albuquerquemarker 21
Compass Bank Buildingmarker 18
Albuquerque Petroleum Buildingmarker 15
Bank of the West Towermarker 17
Gold Buildingmarker 14
Dennis Chavez Federal Buildingmarker 13
PNM Buildingmarker 12
Simms Buildingmarker 13
Pete V.marker Domenici U.S.marker Courthousemarker 7

John Gaw Meem, credited with developing and popularizing the Pueblo Revival style, was based in Santa Femarker but received an important Albuquerque commission in 1933 as the architect of the University of New Mexicomarker. He retained this commission for the next quarter-century and developed the University's distinctive Southwest style.

Due to the nature of the soil in the Rio Grande Valley, the skyline is lower than might be expected in a city of commensurate size elsewhere.

Albuquerque boasts a unique nighttime cityscape. Many building exteriors are illuminated in vibrant colors. The Wells Fargo Building is illuminated green. The DoubleTree Hotel and the Compass Bank building are illuminated blue. The rotunda of the county courthouse is illuminated yellow, while the tops of the Bank of Albuquerque and the Bank of the West are illuminated reddish-yellow.

Albuquerque has expanded greatly in area since the mid 1940s. During those years of expansion, the planning of the newer areas has considered that people drive rather than walk. The pre-1940s parts of Albuquerque are quite different in style and scale from the post 1940s areas. These older areas include the North Valley, the South Valley, various neighborhoods near downtown, and Corrales. The newer areas generally feature four to six lane roads in a 1 mile (1.61 km) grid. Each 1 square mile (2.59 km²) is divided into four neighborhoods by smaller roads set 0.5 miles (0.8 km) between major roads. When driving along major roads in the newer sections of Albuquerque, one sees strip malls, signs, and cinderblock walls. The upside of this planning style is that neighborhoods are shielded from the worst of the noise and lights on the major roads. The downside is that it is virtually impossible to go anywhere from home without driving.


Albuquerque is geographically divided into four quadrants which are officially part of the mailing address. They are NE (northeast), NW (northwest), SE (southeast), and SW (southwest). The north-south dividing line is Central Avenue (the path that Route 66 took through the city) and the east-west dividing line is the BNSF Railway tracks.

The Pueblo Deco style KiMo Theater is one of Albuquerque's best-known landmarks.
Northeast Quadrant
This quadrant has been experiencing a housing expansion since the late 1950s. It abuts the base of the Sandia Mountains and contains portions of the Sandia Heights neighborhoods, which are situated in or near the foothills and are significantly higher, in elevation and price range, than the rest of the city. Running from Central Ave. and the railroad tracks to the Sandia Peak Aerial Trammarker, this is the largest quadrant both geographically and by population. The University of New Mexicomarker, the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, the Uptown area which includes Coronado Center, Winrock Town Center, and the newly completed ABQ Uptown (outdoor shopping and fine dining), Journal Center (with over 2 million square feet (180,000 m²) of office space), Balloon Fiesta Park, and Albuquerque Academymarker are all located in this quadrant. Some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the city are located here, including High Desert, Primrose Pointe, Tanoan, Glenwood Hills, Sandia Heights, and North Albuquerque Acres. (Parts of Sandia Heights and North Albuquerque Acres are outside the city limits proper.) A few houses in the farthest reach of this quadrant lie in the Cibola National Forest, just over the line into Sandoval Countymarker.

Northwest Quadrant
This quadrant contains historic Old Town Albuquerque, which dates back to the 1700s, as well as the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The area has a mixture of commercial, low-income, middle-income, and some of the more expensive homes in the city. Northwest Albuquerque includes the largest section of downtown, the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park and the Bosque ("woodlands" Cottonwood forest), the Petroglyph National Monumentmarker, Double Eagle II Airportmarker, the historic Martineztown neighborhood, the Paradise Hills Area, and Cottonwood Mallmarker. Additionally, the "North Valley" area, which includes some small ranches and upscale residential homes along the Rio Grandemarker, is located in this quadrant. The City of Albuquerque engulfs the village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerquemarker and borders Corralesmarker in the northwest valley. The rapidly developing area on the west side of the river is known as the "westside" and consists primarily of traditional residential subdivisions. Here the city proper is bordered on the north by the City of Rio Ranchomarker.

Southeast Quadrant
Eclipse Aviation, Kirtland Air Force Basemarker, Sandia National Laboratoriesmarker, the Central New Mexico Community College main campus, the Albuquerque International Sunportmarker, Albuquerque Studios, University Stadiummarker, Isotopes Parkmarker, and University Arenamarker ("The Pit") are located in the Southeast (SE) quadrant.

The Nob Hill and East Downtown (EDo) neighborhoods lie along Central Avenue, the border between the Southeast and Northeast quadrants. The expensive residential developments of Four Hills, nestled in the Manzano foothills, Volterra, Willow Wood, and Ridgecrest are also located in this quadrant. In sharp contrast to these upscale developments, some of the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods in the city are also located in Southeast Albuquerque. During the past two decades, parts of the SE quadrant, mainly around Gibson Blvd. and Central Ave., have become high crime areas. However, recent developments in the neighborhood such as the Cesar Chavez Community Center, Veterans' Memorial, and the renovated Talin Market have shown that this area is reestablishing itself as one of many cultural centers in the city. In fact, the area surrounding Talin Market was named the 'International District' by the city in 2009.

Southwest Quadrant
Traditionally consisting of agricultural and rural areas, the Southwest quadrant is often referred to as the "South Valley". Although the city limits of Albuquerque do not include all of the area, the South Valley is considered to extend all the way to the Isleta Indian Reservation. This includes the old communities of Atrisco, Los Padillas, Kinney, Mountainview, and Pajarito. The south end of downtown Albuquerque and the Bosque ("woodlands" cottonwood forest), the historic Barelas neighborhood, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, the Rio Grande Zoomarker (which is part of the City's Albuquerque Biological Park system), and Tingley Beachmarker are also located here.

The southwest area is currently undergoing rapid and controversial development, including large retail stores and quickly built subdivisions.


Census 2000 data

As of the census of 2000, there were 448,607 people, 183,236 households, and 112,690 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,483.4 people per square mile (958.9/km²). There were 198,465 housing units at an average density of 1,098.7/sq mi (424.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.59% White, 3.09% Black or African American, 3.89% Native American, 2.24% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 14.78% from other races, and 4.31% Multiracial (from two or more races). 39.92% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 183,236 households out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.6% were married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.5% were non-families. 30.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.5% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 30.9% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 94.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $38,272, and the median income for a family was $46,979. Males had a median income of $34,208 versus $26,397 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,884. About 10.0% of families and 13.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.4% of those under age 18 and 8.5% of those age 65 or over.

2008 estimates

Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Metropolitan Statistical Area's July 1, 2008, populations were estimated at 521,999 and 845,913 respectively by the United States Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program.

At the 2005–2007 U.S. Census American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates, the city had 488,416 persons of a single race, divided as:White, 342,324 (70.1%);Black, 17,072 (3.5%);American Indian or Alaskan Native, 24,891 (5.1%);Asian, 12,848 (2.6%);Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 793 (0.2%); andsome other race, 90,488 (18.5%).

There were 17,162 (3.4% of the population) of two or more races. There were 221,175 (43.7% of the population) Hispanics (of any race).


Albuquerque lies at the center of the New Mexico Technology Corridor, a concentration of high-tech private companies and government institutions along the Rio Grande. Larger institutions whose employees contribute to the population are numerous and include Sandia National Laboratoriesmarker, Kirtland Air Force Basemarker, and the attendant contracting companies which bring highly educated workers to a somewhat isolated region. Intelmarker operates a large semiconductor factory or "fab" just outside the city boundaries of suburban Rio Ranchomarker, in neighboring Sandoval Countymarker, with its attendant large capital investment. Northrop Grumman is located along I-25 in northeast Albuquerque, and TempurPedicmarker is located on the West Mesa next to I-40.

The solar energy and architectural-design innovator Steve Baer located his company, Zomeworks, to the region in the late 1960s; and Los Alamos National Laboratorymarker, Sandiamarker, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratorymarker cooperate here in an enterprise that began with the Manhattan Project. In January 2007, Tempur-Pedic opened an mattress factory in northwest Albuquerque. SCHOTT Solar, Inc., announced in January 2008 they will open a facility manufacturing receivers for concentrated solar thermal power plants (CSP) and 64MW of photovoltaic (PV) modules.

Forbes Magazine rated Albuquerque the best city in America for business and careers in 2006 and the 13th best (out of 200 metro areas) in 2008.

Arts and culture

Albuquerque is home to 300 visual arts, music, dance, literary, film, ethnic, and craft organizations, museums, festivals and associations. Those with international and national appeal include:

Albuquerque Studios, a 28-acre city-operated campus includes eight sound stages, production office space, mill space, and an ample back lot. The lot sits on a 9,000-acre development on Albuquerque’s southeast mesa which incorporates the best practices of planned and sustainable urban development. For info on filming in Albuquerque,

Baila! Baila! Dance Company is an internationally renowned Mexican folkloric dance company that has appeared at Epcot Center, Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Olympics.

The Flamenco Program at the University of New Mexico is the only program in the United States to offer a fully developed curriculum in Flamenco technique and choreography and a minor in Flamenco. Every year in June, the Program’s director, Eva Encinias-Sandoval, organizes the two-week Festival Flamenco Internacional, including master classes with guest artists from Spain and the U.S., a children’s component, and a series of performances in venues around Albuquerque.

Gathering of Nations PowWow is one of the largest in the western hemisphere, attracting over 3,000 dancers, singers and drummers from 500 tribes across Canada, the U.S., Central America and South America. The event includes the Miss Indian World pageant, and the Indian Traders’ Market. It is held on the last weekend in April at a University of New Mexico sports arena.

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center showcases the arts and culture of the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico, including a museum, excellent gift shop, travel center, restaurant and outdoor performance area for multiple Indian dance presentations throughout the year. The Center offers information about visiting the pueblos, with a calendar of feast days and events. It also features exhibits of weaving, pottery, jewelry, clothing and photography.

National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico is the largest cultural center of its kind in the United States, with programs in the visual, performing and literary arts, as well as year-round family programming through its acclaimed education program. The Center is home to an 11,000 square foot art museum, state-of-the-art performing arts center, genealogy center and library, gift shop and restaurant. Part of the State of New Mexico’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the Center sits on 50+ acres in the historic Albuquerque neighborhood of Barelas.

Outpost Performance Space has, for 20 years, presented hundreds of performances and classes on jazz (from dixie to avant-garde), folk, blues and roots music, experimental music, classical music, international music, poetry and spoken word, theater and performance art, featuring local, regional, national and international established and emerging artists.

The Tamarind Institute was founded in 1960 to train fine art lithographers who have, in turn, created important print shops throughout the country.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is one of the largest hot air balloon gatherings in the world, held in early October. Founded in 1972 with 13 balloons, today it hosts 700 balloons in a variety of ascensions and activities in this 9-day event attracting thousands. Its new balloon museum is a major attraction. The Fiesta is one of the most photographed events in the world.[27]

Those with regional and local appeal include:

ArtStreet, art for the homeless, operated by Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless,

516 ARTS, an independent nonprofit venue for contemporary visual and literary art, film/video and music dedicated to featuring local artists in a museum-style gallery in downtown Albuquerque. New Mexico has a multitude of visual artists working in as many media. 516 ARTS offers adventurous programs that address current issues in world culture, presenting innovative and interdisciplinary exhibitions, events and educational activities.

Los Reyes de Albuquerque is a band of seven musicians headed by Roberto Martinez, winner of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Heritage Fellowship. The group is dedicated to presenting, preserving, and perpetuating traditional New Mexican and Mexican folk music. Since 1962, the group has performed in nursing homes and homeless shelters throughout New Mexico, as well as at the Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festivals and in films like Robert Redford’s 1988 “Milagro Beanfield War.”

Mariachi Spectacular, a five-day celebration of mariachi music held in several indoor and outdoor venues around Albuquerque, featuring mariachi groups from Mexico, New Mexico and across the nation. Workshops, competitions, concerts, a mass, and more.

National Dance Institute of New Mexico is the largest arts education organization in New Mexico, providing outstanding dance instruction and performance experience to thousands of school children around the state. NDI was founded by famed dancer Jacques d’Amboise, who has a home in Santa Fe.

New Mexico Ballet Company was founded in 1963 to provide training and performances to hundreds of dancers and to provide audiences with traditional and contemporary repertoire while serving as a launching point for dancers seeking careers in dance.

New Mexico Jazz Workshop an Albuquerque institution presenting a variety of performances and educational programs, including Salsa Under the Stars, Jazz Under the Stars, Summer Music Festival, Women’s Voices, Blues Fest, Jam sessions, and Yule Struttin’, among others.

New Mexico Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Guillermo Figueroa, reaching 130,000 audience members annually, including a large music education program.

Teatro Nuevo Mexico, Albuquerque’s only Latino theater company presents standard repertoire and contemporary works by local and regional playwrights, as well as zarzuela (Spanish musical theater) utilizing national and international performers.

Tricklock Theater Company is an international theater organization founded in 1993 to create, tour and produce theatrical performances as a permanent resident company committed to artistic risk, physicality, absurdism and poetic work.

Other Albuquerque music groups specialize in Baroque music, New Mexico traditional music, girl choir, boy choir, chamber music, folk music festival, youth symphony, music in hospitals, wind quintet, barbershop music, pipes/drums, mariachi, cathedral music, men’s chorus, gay men’s chorus, women’s chorus, Balkan chorus, renaissance choir, jazz band, hand bells, gamelan music, concert band, guitar, gospel, piano, taiko drummers, Medieval/Renaissance music, old time fiddling, world music, klezmer/Judaic music, blues band, jug band and amateur orchestra.

Dance groups include ballet, airdance, folk dance, Mexican folkloric, New Mexican dance, contemporary dance, Aztec dance, Scottish dance, belly dance, Eagle dance, flamenco/Spanish dance, Indian dance, Japanese folk dance, dance for persons with disabilities, Irish dance, Step dance, children’s dance, Greek dance, jazz dance and tango.

Theater groups include two opera companies, one musical theater company, eight theater companies, two bilingual companies (Spanish/English), a Shakespeare project, five theaters companies for and by children and young people, storytellers association, and one theater guild.

Literary organizations include a center for book arts, poetry slams, press women association, mystery writers, romance writers, National Pen Women, Book Co-op, Southwest Writers, Universal Writers Group, Writers to Writers Workshop, Women in Communication, Soc. Of children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, Maxwell Museum of Anthropology

Visual arts: Albuquerque is home to 30 arts associations, artists’ cooperatives and other organizations that support artists.

Crafts: Albuquerque is home to 22 craft guilds and associations.

Museums: New Mexico Holocaust & Intolerance Museum, Albuq. Museum of Arts and History, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Balloon Museum, Explora! Science Center and Children’s Museum, National Atomic Museum, UNM Art Museum, Alice Hoppes African American Pavilion

Festivals not listed above: Rio Grande Valley Celtic Festival, Albuquerque Wine Festival, Albuquerque Folk [music] Festival, State Fair, New Mexico Wine Festival,

For a complete list of arts organizations and cultural activities in Albuquerque:

Other points of interest

Albuquerque contains a variety of museums, galleries, shops and other points of interest. Some of these include the Albuquerque Biological Park, Museum of Natural History and Science, and Old Town Albuquerque.

The majority of locally owned boutiques and fine dining establishments are scattered throughout Downtown, Old Town, and Uptown. Old Town features an intriguing ghost tour performed by the Southwest Ghosthunters Association.

The Sandia and Manzano Mountains to the east offer interesting trails, open spaces, and rock climbing. Climbs from one to 10 pitches can be found at all ability levels.

The Sandia Peak Tramway,marker located adjacent to Albuquerque is the world's longest passenger aerial tramway. It also has the world's third longest single span. It stretches from the Northeast edge of the city to the crestline of the Sandia Mountains.

References in popular culture

Bill Gates' mugshot from a traffic violation in 1977


Club Sport League Venue Capacity
Albuquerque Isotopes Baseball AAA PCL Isotopes Parkmarker 12,500
Albuquerque Thunderbirds Basketball NBA D-League Tingley Coliseummarker 11,200
New Mexico Scorpions AA minor league ice hockey CHL Santa Ana Star Centermarker 8,000
New Mexico Wildcats Arena football AIFA Santa Ana Star Centermarker 8,000
University of New Mexico Lobos NCAA Division I Football Mountain West Conference University Stadiummarker 41,000
University of New Mexico Lobos NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Basketball Mountain West Conference University Arenamarker (also known as The Pit) 18,018
New Mexico Strongman Strength Athletics North American Strongman, Inc. Various venues Unknown

Parks and recreation

Albuquerque has numerous parks, bike paths, and hiking areas scattered throughout the metro area. Most of the city's best biking and hiking areas are concentrated in and around the Sandia and Manzano foothills.

The city was ranked #1 as the fittest city in the United States, according to a March 2007 issue of Men's Fitness magazine. The critera used in the study included the availability of gyms and bike paths, commute times, and federal health statistics on obesity-related injuries and illnesses.
  • Documents the extensive network of bicycle trails and lanes
  • An overview of available recreation activities
  • A comprehensive list of parks in the area
  • Petroglyph National Monumentmarker
  • Sandia Tramwaymarker


Albuquerque City Council
President Isaac Benton (since 2008).
Vice-President Sally Mayer (since 2008)
District 1 Ken Sánchez
District 2 Debbie O'Malley
District 3 Isaac Benton
District 4 Bradley Winter
District 5 Michael J. Cadigan
District 6 Rey Garduño
District 7 Sally Mayer
District 8 Trudy Jones
District 9 Don Harris

Albuquerque is a charter city City government is divided into an executive branch, headed by a Mayor and a nine-member Council that holds the legislative authority. The form of city government is therefore mayor-council government. As of December 1, 2009, the mayor is Richard J. Berry, winning office over Incumbent Mayor Martin Chávez.

The Mayor holds a full-time paid elected position with a four-year term.The Council members hold part-time paid positions and are elected from the nine Council districts for four-year terms, with four or five Councilors elected every two years. Elections for Mayor and Councilor are nonpartisan. Each year in December one of the Council members is elected by the members of the Council to be the Council President, and one is elected to be the Vice-President. On December 1, 2008, Isaac Benton was elected President of the Council for the next year and Sally Mayer was elected Vice-President.

The Council is the legislative authority of the city, and has the power to adopt all ordinances, resolutions, or other legislation.The Council meets two times a month, with meetings held in the Vincent E. Griego Council Chambers in the basement level of Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Government Center.Ordinances and resolutions passed by the Council are presented to the Mayor for his approval. If the Mayor vetoes an item, the Council can override the veto with a vote of two-thirds of the membership of the Council.

Each year, the Mayor submits a city budget proposal for the year to the Council by April 1, and the Council acts on the proposal within the next 60 days.


University of New Mexico
The city is home to the University of New Mexicomarker, one of two large state universities in New Mexico. UNM includes a School of Medicine which was ranked in the top 50 primary care-oriented medical schools in the country. Albuquerque is also home to the National American University, Trinity Southwest University, and the University of St. Francis College of Nursing and Allied Health Department of Physician Assistant Studies. The Central New Mexico Community College serves most of the area, as do several technical schools including ITT Technical Institute and the University of Phoenix. Furthermore, The Art Center Design College offers bachelor's degrees in Graphic and Interior Design, animation, illustration, Photography as well as several other disciplines.Albuquerque Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in the nation, provides educational services to over 87,000 children across the city.


Albuquerque is a media hub for much of New Mexicomarker. The city is served by one major newspaper, the Albuquerque Journal, and several smaller daily and weekly papers. Albuquerque is also home to numerous radio and television stations that serve the metropolitan and outlying rural areas. Many small public relations and advertising firms are headquartered in Albuquerque. During the past decade, various national magazines have ranked Albuquerque amongst their top ten cities to live in. Albuquerque was voted once again as the best place in 2009, based on a list of factors including the climate and state of the local economy.



Main highways

Some of the main highways in the city include:

  • Pan-American Freeway – More commonly known as Interstate 25 or "I-25", it is the main north–south highway on the city's eastern side of the Rio Grandemarker. It is also the main north–south highway in the state (by connecting Albuquerque with Santa Femarker and Las Crucesmarker) and a plausible route of the eponymous Pan American Highway.
  • Coronado Freeway – More commonly known as Interstate 40 or "I-40", it is the city's main east–west traffic artery and an important transcontinental route. The freeway's name in the city is in reference to 16th century conquistador and explorer Francisco Vazquez de Coronado.
  • Paseo del Norte – Concurrent with State Highway 423, Paseo del Norte connects two parts of Albuquerque that are separated by the North Valleymarker and by Los Ranchos de Albuquerquemarker. Paseo del Norte is a freeway from Jefferson Street to Eagle Ranch Road, as it crosses the Rio Grande. A controversial extension of this road through Petroglyph National Monumentmarker was finally opened in 2007. Roughly parallel to Interstate 40 and approximately five miles to the north, Paseo Del Norte connects Interstate 25 and Coors Boulevard.
  • Coors Boulevard – Coors is the main north-south artery to the west of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque. There is one full interchange where it connects with Interstate 40. The rest of the route has stoplights, sidewalks and bike lanes. To the north of Interstate 40, part of the route is numbered as State Highway 448, while to the south, part of the route is numbered as State Highway 45.
  • Central Avenue – Central is one of the historical routings of Route 66, it is no longer a main through highway, its usefulness having been supplanted by Interstate 40.
  • Tramway Boulevard – Serves as a bypass around the northeastern quadrant, the route is designated as NM-556. Tramway Boulevard starts at I-25 near near Sandia Pueblo, and heads east as a two-lane road. It turns south near the base of the Sandia Peak Tramwaymarker and becomes a divided highway until its terminus near I-40 and Central Avenue by the western entrance to Tijeras Canyonmarker.

The interchange between I-40 and I-25 is known as the "Big Imarker". Originally built in 1966, it was rebuilt in 2002.

Numerous major intersection of the city have been outfitted with red-light cameras to issue fines for running red light as well as speeding.

There are six road bridges that cross the Rio Grandemarker and serve the municipality on at least one end if not both. The eastern approaches of the northernmost three all pass through adjacent unincorporated areas, the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerquemarker, or the North Valleymarker. In downstream order they are:
  • Alameda Bridge
  • Paseo del Norte Bridge
  • Montano Bridge
  • I-40 Bridge
  • Old Town Bridge
  • Barelas Bridge

Two more bridges serve urbanized area contiguous to the city's perforated southern boundary.


Rail Runner Express Downtown Albuquerque station train platform.
The state owns most of the city's rail infrastructure which is used by a commuter rail system, long distance passenger trains, and the freight trains of the BNSF Railway.

Intercity rail
Amtrak's Southwest Chief, which travels between Chicagomarker and Los Angelesmarker, serves the Albuquerque area daily with one stop in each direction at the Alvarado Transportation Centermarker in downtown.

Commuter rail
The New Mexico Rail Runner Express, a commuter rail line, began service between Sandoval County and Albuquerque in July 2006 using an existing BNSF right-of-way which was purchased by New Mexico in 2005. Service expanded to Valencia County in December 2006 and to Santa Femarker on December 17, 2008. Rail Runner now connects Santa Femarker, Sandoval, Bernalillo, and Valencia Counties with eleven station stops, including three stops within Albuquerque.The trains connect Albuquerque to downtown Santa Fe with eight roundtrips per weekday. The section of the line running south to Belenmarker is served less frequently.

Local mass transit

New intermodal transportation hub in downtown Albuquerque.

ABQ RIDE is the local transit agency in the city. ABQ RIDE operates a variety of bus routes, including the Rapid Ride express bus service.

In 2006 the City of Albuquerque under the mayorship of Martin Chavez had planned and attempted to "fast track" the development of a "Modern Streetcar" project. Funding for the US$270 million system was not resolved as many citizens vocally opposed the project. The city and its transit department maintain a policy commitment to the streetcar project. The project would run mostly in the southeast quadrant on Central Avenue and Yale Boulevard.

Albuquerque was one of two cities in New Mexico to have had electric street railways. Albuquerque's horse-drawn streetcar lines were electrified during the first few years of the twentieth century. The Albuquerque Traction Company assumed operation of the system in 1905. The system grew to its maximum length of during the next ten years by connecting destinations such as Old Town to the west and the University of New Mexicomarker to the east with the town's urban center near the former Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway depot. The Albuquerque Traction Company failed financially in 1915 and the vaguely named City Electric Company was formed. Despite traffic booms during the first world war, and unaided by lawsuits attempting to force the streetcar company to pay for paving, that system also failed later in 1927, leaving the streetcar's "motorettes" unemployed.

Bicycle transit

Albuquerque has a well developed bicycle network. In and around the City there are trails, bike routes, and paths that provide the residents and visitors with alternatives to motorized travel. The city was recently reviewed as having a major up and coming bike scene in North America. The City of Albuquerque also recently opened its first Bicycle Boulevard on Silver Avenue. There are plans for more investment in bikes and bike transit by the city in the coming years.


Albuquerque is served by two airports, the larger of which is Albuquerque International Sunportmarker. It is located 3 miles (5 km) southeast of the central business district of Albuquerque. The Albuquerque International Sunport served over 6,000,000 passengers in 2008. Double Eagle II Airportmarker is the other airport. It is primarily used as an air ambulance, corporate flight, military flight, training flight, charter flight, and private flight facility.



PNM Resources, New Mexico's largest electricity provider, is based in Albuquerque. They serve about 487,000 electricity customers statewide.

New Mexico Gas Company provides natural gas services to more than 500,000 customers in the state, including the Albuquerque metro area.


The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority is responsible for the delivery of drinking water and the treatment of wastewater.


Albuquerque is the medical hub of New Mexico, hosting numerous state-of-the-art medical centers. Some of the city's premier hospitals include the VA Medical Center, Presbyterian Hospital, Heart Hospital of New Mexico, and Lovelace Women's Hospital. University of New Mexico Hospital is the only level I trauma center in the state.

Notable natives and residents

Sister cities

Albuquerque has nine sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:


  1. James J. Parsons. The Cork Oak Forests and the Evolution of the Cork Industry in Southern Spain and Portugal. 1962. Clark University
  2. Brochure "Alburquerque: Villa Medieval" Excmo. Ayuntamiento de Alburquerque and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya. 2006
  3. Jeremy Jojola - "Q" Quarrel (KOBTV, 2007)
  4. Marisa Demarco - Talking Points: Burque vs. the Q" (Albuquerque Alibi 2007)
  5. Planned Growth Strategy
  6. Petroglyph National Monument
  7. Robert Julyan, The Place Names of New Mexico (revised edition), UNM Press, 1998.
  8. The project's page at the United States Bureau of Reclamation's website[1]
  9. The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority
  10. Best Places
  11. Location of Cameras, City of Albuquerque

External links

Related information

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