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Santa Fe ( ) is the capital of the state of New Mexicomarker. It is the fourth-largest city in the state and is the seat of . Santa Fe (literally 'holy faith' in Spanish) had a population of 62,203 at the April 1, 2000 census; the estimate for July 1, 2006, is 72,056. It is the principal city of the Santa Fe, New Mexico Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Santa Fe County and is part of the larger Santa Fe-Española Combined Statistical Area.


Spain and Mexico

The City of Santa Fe was originally occupied by a number of Pueblo Indian villages with founding dates between 1050 to 1150. The Santa Fe River provided water to people living there.

Santa Fe was the capital of Nuevo México, a province of New Spain explored by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and established in 1515. The "Kingdom of New Mexico" was first claimed for the Spanish Crown in 1540, almost 70 years before the founding of Santa Fe. Coronado and his men also traveled to the Grand Canyonmarker and through the Great Plainsmarker on their New Mexico expedition.

Spanish colonists first settled in northern New Mexico in 1598. Don Juan de Oñate became the first Governor and Captain-General of New Mexico and established his capital in 1598 near Ohkay Owingeh Pueblomarker (formerly known as San Juan Pueblo), north of Santa Fe. The city of Santa Fe was founded by Don Pedro de Peralta, New Mexico's third governor. Peralta gave the city its full name, "La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís", or "The Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi."

The town was formally founded in 1608 and made a capital in 1610,making it the oldest capital city in what is today the United States. Jamestown, Virginia (1607) is of similar vintage but not as a capital. Santa Fe is at least the third oldest surviving American city founded by European colonists, behind the oldest St. Augustine, Floridamarker (1565). (A few settlements were founded prior to St. Augustine but all failed, including the original Pensacolamarker colony in West Florida, founded by Tristán de Luna y Arellano in 1559, with the area abandoned in 1561 due to hurricanes, famine and warring tribes. Fort Carolinemarker, founded by the Frenchmarker in 1564 in what is today Jacksonville, Floridamarker only lasted a year before being obliterated by the Spanish in 1565.)

Except for the years 1680-1692, when, as a result of the Pueblo Revolt, the native Pueblo people drove the Spaniards out of the area known as New Mexico, later to be reconquered by Don Diego de Vargas, Santa Fe remained Spain's provincial seat until the outbreak of the Mexican War of Independence in 1810. In 1824 the city's status as the capital of the Mexican territory of Santa Fé de Nuevo México was formalized in the 1824 Constitution.

Santa Fe, 1846-1847

United States

In 1841, a small military and trading expedition set out from Austin, Texasmarker, with the aim of gaining control over the Santa Fe Trail. Known as the Santa Fe Expedition the force was poorly prepared and was easily repelled by the Mexican army. In 1846, the United States declared war on Mexico, and Brigadier General Stephen W. Kearny led the main body of his Army of the West of some 1,700 soldiers into the city to claim it and the whole New Mexico Territory for the United States. By 1848 the U.S. officially gained New Mexico through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Colonel Alexander William Doniphanmarker under the command of Kearny recovered ammunition from Santa Fe labeled "Spain 1776" showing both the quality of communication and military support New Mexico received under Mexican rule, or that it was a peaceful city until Anglo-Americans arrived.

In 1851, Jean Baptiste Lamy arrived in Santa Fe and began construction of Saint Francis Cathedral. For a few days in March 1862, the Confederate flag of General Henry Sibley flew over Santa Fe, until he was defeated by Union troops.

Santa Fe was originally envisioned as an important stop on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. But as the tracks progressed into New Mexicomarker, the civil engineers decided that it was more practical to go through Lamymarker, a town in Santa Fe Countymarker to the south of Santa Fe. The result was a gradual economic decline. This was reversed in part through the creation of a number of resources for the arts and archaeology, notably the School of American Research, created in 1907 under the leadership of the prominent archaeologist Edgar Lee Hewett. The first airplane to fly over Santa Fe was piloted by Rose Dugan, carrying Vera von Blumenthal as passenger. Together they started the development of the Pueblo Indian pottery industry, a major contribution to the founding of the annual Santa Fe Indian Market.

In 1912, New Mexico became the United States of America's 47th state, with Santa Fe as its capital.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 37.4 square miles (96.9 km2), of which, 37.3 square miles (96.7 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km2) of it (0.21%) is water.

Santa Fe is located at 7,000 feet (2134 m) above sea level, making it the highest state capital in the United States. The highest state capitals are:

  1. Santa Fe, New Mexico – 7,199 ft (2134 m) right through the center of the Capitol building
  2. Cheyenne, Wyomingmarker – 6,062 ft (1,848 m)
  3. Denver, Coloradomarker – 5,280 ft (1,609.3 m)
  4. Carson City, Nevadamarker – 4,802 ft (1,463 m)
  5. Salt Lake City, Utahmarker – 4,226 ft (1,288 m)
  6. Helena, Montanamarker – 4,058 ft (1,237 m)


Santa Fe is characterized by cool winters and warm summers. The average temperature in Santa Fe ranges from a low of 14°F (-10°C) to a high of 40°F (4°C) in winter, low of 55°F (13°C) to a high of 86°F (30°C) in summer. Santa Fe receives 2-3 inches (50-75 mm) of rain per month in summer and about 5 inches (13 cm) of snow per month in winter.

At 7,000 feet above sea level, Santa Fe's has warm days and cool evenings during Spring, Summer and Fall, and a jacket or sweater is advisable, even during the summer. Day temperatures reach an average low of during the winter months, and an average high of during the summer.

Nights are cool year-round in this high desert city. Santa Fe usually receives 6 to 8 snowfalls a year between November and April. Heaviest rainfall occurs in July and August. Santa Fe has 300+ days of sunshine a year an average relative humidity of 50%.

Santa Fe style and “The City Different”

Capitol Building

The Spanish laid out the city according to the “Laws of the Indies”, town planning rules and ordinances which had been established in 1573 by King Philip II. The fundamental principle was that the town be laid out around a central plaza. On its north side was the Palace of the Governorsmarker, while on the East was the church that later became the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisimarker.

An important style implemented in planning the city was the radiating grid of streets centering from the central Plaza. Many were narrow and included small alley-ways, but each gradually merged into the more casual byways of the agricultural perimeter areas. As the city grew throughout the 19th century, the building styles evolved too, so that by Statehood in 1912, the eclectic nature of the buildings caused it to look like “Anywhere USA”. The city government realized that the economic decline, which had started more than twenty years before with the railway moving west and the Federal government closing down Fort Marcy, might be reversed by the promotion of tourism.

To achieve that goal, the city created the idea of imposing a unified building style – the Spanish Pueblo Revival look, which was based on work done restoring the Palace of the Governors. The sources for this style came from the many defining features of local architecture: vigas and canales from many old adobe homes, churches built many years before and found in the Pueblos, and the earth-toned, adobe-colored look of the exteriors.

After 1912 this style became official: all buildings were to be built using these elements. By 1930 there was a broadening to include the “Territorial”, a style of the pre-statehood period which included the addition of portals and white-painted window and door pediments. The City had become “Different”.However, “in the rush to pueblofy” Santa Fe, the city lost a great deal of its architectural history and eclecticism”. Among the architects most closely associated with this “new” style is John Gaw Meem.

By an ordinance passed in 1958, new and rebuilt buildings, especially those in designated historic districts, must exhibit a Spanish Territorial or Pueblo style of architecture, with flat roofs and other features suggestive of the area's traditional adobe construction. However, many contemporary houses in the city are built from lumber, concrete blocks, and other common building materials, but with stucco surfaces (sometimes referred to as "faux-dobe", pronounced as one word: "foe-dough-bee") reflecting the historic style.

Santa Fe City officials
Mayor David Coss
Mayor Pro-Tem Rebecca Wurzburger
City manager Galen M. Buller
City attorney Frank D. Katz
City clerk Yolanda Y. Vigil, CMC
Municipal Judge Ann Yalman
Chief of police Aric Wheeler
Fire chief Barbara Salas
City councilors Pattie Bushee
Chris Calvert
Rosemary Romero
Rebecca Wurzburger
Miguel Chavez
Carmichael Dominguez
Matthew E.

Ronald S.


In 2005/2006, a consultant group from Portland, Oregonmarker, prepared a “Santa Fe Downtown Vision Plan” to examine the long-range needs for the “downtown” area, roughly bounded by the Paseo de Peralta on the north, south and east sides and by Guadalupe Street on the west. In consultation with members of community groups, who were encouraged to provide feedback, the consultants made a wide range of recommendations in the plan now published for public and City review.


City hall
The City of Santa Fe is a charter city. It is governed by a mayor-council system. The city is divided into four electoral districts, each represented by two councilors. Councilors are elected to staggered four-year terms and one councilor from each district is elected every two years.

The municipal judgeship is an elected position and a requirement of the holder is that they be a member of the state bar. The judge is elected to four-year terms. 

The mayor is the chief executive officer of the city and is a member of the governing body. The mayor has numerous powers and duties, but does not vote with the councilors except to break ties. Day-to-day operations of the municipality are undertaken by the city manager's office.

Federal representation

Joseph M.
Montoya Federal Building and Post Office
The Joseph M. Montoya Federal Building and Post Office serves as an office for U.S. federal government operations. It also contains the primary United States Postal Service post office in the city. Other post offices in the Santa Fe city limits include Coronado, De Vargas Mall, and Santa Fe Place Mall.

Arts and culture

The city is well-known as a center for arts that reflect the multicultural character of the city; and has been designated as a UNESCO Creative City.

Each Wednesday the alternative weekly newspaper, The Santa Fe Reporter, publishes information on the arts and culture of Santa Fe; and each Friday, the daily Santa Fe New Mexican publishes Pasatiempo, its long-running calendar and commentary on arts and events.

Visual art and galleries

The town and the surrounding areas have a high concentration of artists. They have come over the decades to capture on canvas and in other media the natural beauty of the landscape, the flora and the fauna. One of the most well-known New Mexico-based artists was Georgia O'Keeffe, who lived for a time in Santa Fe, but primarily in Abiquiumarker, a small village about 50 miles (80 km) away. The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe is devoted to exhibitions of her work and associated artists or related themes. As of early 2006, it holds over one thousand of her works in all media.

Canyon Road, east of the Plaza, has the highest concentration of art galleries in the city, and is a major destination for international collectors, tourists and locals. Santa Fe's art market is one of the largest in the United States, and the Canyon Road galleries showcase a wide array of contemporary, Southwestern, indigenous American, and experimental art, in addition to Russianmarker, Taos Masters, and Native American pieces.


There are many outdoor sculptures, including many statues of Francis of Assisi, and several other holy figures, such as Kateri Tekakwitha. Given that Francis of Assisi was known for his love of animals it is not surprising that there are great numbers of representations of crows, bulls, elephants, livestock and other beasts, all over town. The styles run the whole spectrum from Baroque to Post-modern. Notable sculptors connected with Santa Fe include John Connell, Luis Jiménez, and Allan Houser.


Numerous authors followed the influx of specialists in the visual arts. Well-known writers like D.H. Lawrence, Cormac McCarthy, Douglas Adams, Roger Zelazny, Alice Corbin Henderson, Mary Austin, Witter Bynner, Paul Horgan, George R. R. Martin, Mitch Cullin, Evan S. Connell, Richard Bradford, Jack Schaefer, Hampton Sides and Michael McGarrity are or were residents of Santa Fe. Walker Percy lived on a dude ranch outside of Santa Fe before returning to Louisiana to begin his literary career. Dayton Lummis, Jr., son of actor Dayton Lummis and himself a travel writer, resides in Santa Fe.

Music, dance, and opera

Music and opera are well represented in Santa Fe with the annual Santa Fe Opera productions, which take place between late June and late August each year, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival which is also held at the same time, mostly in the recently refurbished movie theatre, the Lensic Theater, now a major performing arts venue. Santa Fe has its own professional ballet company, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, which performs in both cities and tours nationally and internationally. The Santa Fe Jazz and International Music Festival was also held at the Lensic Theater for several years. Santa Fe New Music is a leading national presenter of new post-classical music and presents events year-round in many venues. GiG, a small performing arts center in Santa Fe, showcases jazz and world artists from all over the world year-round. The city's dance scene is quite varied, including the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, the National Dance Institute of New Mexico, Moving People Dance Theatre, and many other small ensembles. Many well-known national dance companies, including the Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Complexions, and the New York City Ballet, have also performed at the Lensic regularly while on tour.


Santa Fe has many world-class museums. Many are located around the historic downtown Plaza or close by:

Others are located on Museum Hill


The New Mexico Style were an American Basketball Association franchise founded in 2005, but reformed in Texasmarker for the 2007-8 season as the El Paso S'ol (which folded without playing an ABA game in their new city). The Santa Fe Roadrunners were a North American Hockey League team, but moved to Kansasmarker to become the Topeka Roadrunners. Rodeo De Santa Fe is held annually the last week of June. It is one of top 100 rodeos in the nation.

Science and technology

Santa Fe has had an association with science and technology since 1943 when the town served as the gateway to Los Alamos National Laboratorymarker (LANL), a 45 minute drive from the city. In 1984, the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) was founded to research complex systems in the physical, biological, economic, and political sciences. It hosts such Nobel laureates as Murray Gell-Mann (physics), Philip Warren Anderson (physics), and Kenneth Arrow (economics). The National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR) was founded in 1994 to focus on research at the intersection among bioscience, computing, and mathematics. In the 1990s and 2000s several technology companies formed to commercialize technologies from LANL, SFI, and NCGR. This community of companies has been dubbed the "Info Mesa."

Due to the presence of LANLmarker and SFI, and because of its attractiveness for visitors and an established tourist industry, Santa Fe routinely serves as a host to a variety of scientific meetings, summer schools, and public lectures, such as International q-bio Conference on Cellular Information Processing, Complex Systems Summer School, LANL's Center For Nonlinear Studies Annual Conference, and others.


After State government, tourism is a major element of the Santa Fe economy, with visitors attracted year-round by the climate and related outdoor activities (such as skiing in years of adequate snowfall; hiking in other seasons) plus cultural activities of the city and the region. Tourism information is provided by the convention and visitor bureau and the chamber of commerce.

Most tourist activity takes place in the historic downtown, especially on and around the Plaza, a one-block square adjacent to the Palace of the Governorsmarker, the original seat of New Mexico's territorial government since the time of Spanishmarker colonization. Other areas include “Museum Hill”, the site of the major art museums of the city as well as the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, which takes place each year during the second full weekend of July. The Canyon Road arts area with its galleries is also a major attraction for locals and visitors alike.

Some visitors find Santa Fe particularly attractive around the second week of September when the aspens in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains turn yellow and the skies are clear and blue. This is also the time of the annual Fiestas de Santa Fe, celebrating the "reconquering" of Santa Fe by Don Diego de Vargas, a highlight of which is the burning Zozobra ("Old Man Gloom"), a marionette.

Within easy striking distance for day-trips is the town of Taosmarker, about North and the historic Bandelier National Monumentmarker about away. Santa Fe's ski area, Ski Santa Fe, is about north of the city.

Architectural highlights

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, 1869


As of the census of 2000, there were 62,203 people, 27,569 households, and 14,969 families living in the city. The population density was 1,666.1 people per square mile (643.4/km2). There were 30,533 housing units at an average density of 817.8/sq mi (315.8/km2). According to the Census Bureau's 2006 American Community Survey, the racial makeup of the city was 75% White, 2.5% Native American, 1.9% Asian, 0.4% African American, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 16.9% from other races, and 3.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 44.5% of the population.

There were 27,569 households out of which 24.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.6% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.7% were non-families. 36.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the city the population was spread out with 20.3% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 28.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 91.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $40,392, and the median income for a family was $49,705. Males had a median income of $32,373 versus $27,431 for females. The per capita income for the city was $25,454. About 9.5% of families and 12.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.2% of those under age 18 and 9.2% of those age 65 or over.

Sister cities



Santa Fe is served by the Santa Fe Municipal Airportmarker. Currently, American Eagle provides regional jet service to and from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airportmarker, which began on June 11, 2009. An additional flight to and from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport was added on November 19, 2009 alongside a new flight to and from Los Angeles International Airportmarker. Many people fly into the Albuquerque International Sunportmarker and connect by other means to Santa Fe.


Santa Fe is located on I-25. In addition, U.S. Route 84 and U.S. Route 285 pass through the city along St. Francis Drive. NM-599 forms an expressway bypass around the northwestern part of the city.

In its earliest alignment (1926 - 1937) U.S. Route 66 ran through Santa Fe .

Public transportation

Santa Fe Trails operates a number of bus routes within the city and also provides connections to regional transit.

The New Mexico Rail Runner Express is a commuter rail service operating in Valenciamarker, Bernalillomarker (including Albuquerquemarker), Sandovalmarker, and Santa Fe Countiemarker. In Santa Fe County, the service uses 18 miles of new right-of-way connecting the BNSF Railway's old transcontinental mainline to existing right-of-way in Santa Fe used by the Santa Fe Southern Railway. Santa Fe is currently served by three stations, Santa Fe Depotmarker, South Capitolmarker, and Santa Fe County/NM 599. A fourth station, Zia Road, is under construction and does not yet have a planned opening date.

New Mexico Park and Ride, a division of the New Mexico Department of Transportation, and the North Central Regional Transit District operate primarily weekday commuter coach/bus service to Santa Fe from Torrancemarker, Rio Arribamarker, Taosmarker, San Miguelmarker and Los Alamos Countiemarker in addition to shuttle services within Santa Fe connecting major government activity centers. Prior to the Rail Runner's extension to Santa Fe, New Mexico Park and Ride operated commuter coach service between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.


Along with the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, a commuter rail line serving the metropolitan areas of Albuquerque and Santa Fe, the city or its environs are served by two other railroads. The Santa Fe Southern Railway, now mostly a tourist rail experience but also carrying freight, operates excursion services out of Santa Fe as far as Lamymarker, to the southeast. The Santa Fe Southern right-of-way is one of the United States' few rails with trails. Lamy is also served by Amtrak's daily Southwest Chief for train service to Chicagomarker, Los Angelesmarker, and intermediate points. Passengers transiting Lamy may use a special connecting coach/van service to reach Santa Fe.


Multi-use bicycle, pedestrian, and equestrian trails are increasingly popular in Santa Fe, for both recreation and commuting. These include the Dale Ball Trails, a 30 mile network starting within two miles of the Santa Fe Plaza; the long Santa Fe Rail Trail to Lamymarker; and the Santa Fe River Trail, which is in development. Santa Fe is the terminus of three National Historic Trails: El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail, the Old Spanish National Historic Trail, and the Santa Fe National Historic Trail.


Santa Fe Public Library

The public schools in Santa Fe are operated by Santa Fe Public Schools, with two major high schools, Santa Fe High School and Capital High School. The city has two private liberal arts colleges: St. John's College and the College of Santa Fe and a community college, Santa Fe Community College. Santa Fe is home to the Institute of American Indian Arts, which has expanded to a four-year college in recent years. The city has six private college preparatory high schools: Santa Fe Waldorf School, St. Michael's High Schoolmarker, Desert Academy, New Mexico School For The Deaf, Santa Fe Secondary School, and Santa Fe Preparatory Schoolmarker. It is also home to Santa Fe Indian School, an off the reservation school for Native Americans. There are also several charter schools, including Monte Del Sol, the Academy for Technology and the Classics and Charter School 37. The city boasts numerous private elementary schools as well, including Rio Grande School, Desert Montessori School, La Mariposa Montessori, Santa Fe School for the Arts, and The Tara School.


Dinosaur family sculpture, south of I-25 off Cerrillos Road, 2008.
  1. Garrard, Lewis H., Wah-to-yah and the Taos Trail, Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1955 (originally published in 1850)
  2. United States Geological Survey
  3. Average Weather for Santa Fe, NM - Temperature and Precipitation
  4. Hammett, p.14
  5. Hammett, p.15. "They ripped off the cast-iron storefronts, tore down the gingerbread trim, took off the Victorian brackets and dentils…"
  6. Santa Fe Downtown Vision Plan, March 2007 (Approved draft by City of Santa Fe Steering Committee) Several sections
  7. " Post Office™ Location - SANTA FE MAIN." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on July 5, 2009.
  8. " Post Office™ Location - CORONADO." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
  9. " Post Office™ Location - DE VARGAS MALL." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
  10. " Post Office™ Location - SANTA FE PLACE MALL." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
  11. Santa Fe Creative Tourism Experiences in New Mexico
  12. Santa Fe New Music
  13. GiG
  14. Museum Hill
  15. Museum of Spanish Colonial Art
  16. Santa Fe Rodeo - RODEO! de Santa Fe
  17. National Center for Genome Resources
  18. Complex Systems Summer School
  19. Center For Nonlinear Studies
  20. Santa
  21. Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce
  22. " Southwest Airlines Cities," Southwest Airlines
  23. Airline Service For New Mexico Capital In Limbo, website, 13 Nov 2007
  24. Dale Ball Trails and Connecting Trails and Biking Trails
  25. Santa Fe Waldorf School K-12
  26. Desert Montessori School

Further reading

  • Acuna, Rodolfo, Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, New York: Harper Collins, 1987 ISBN 006040163X
  • Hammett, Kingsley, Santa Fe: A Walk Through Time, Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2004 ISBN 1-58685-102-0
  • Larson, Jonathan, "Santa Fe", RENT, 1996
  • Wilson, Chris, The Myth of Santa Fe: Creating a Modern Regional Tradition, Albuquerque, NM: UNM Press, 1997 ISBN 0826317464

External links

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