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U.S. Southwest:

Santa Fe, New Mexico

August 31, 2019

(Elevation: 7,200 ft.)

Santa Fe, New Mexico’s capital, is located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The city was founded in 1610 (13 years before Plymouth Colony was settled by the Mayflower Pilgrims) as the capital of Nuevo México, making it the oldest state capital in the U.S., and the oldest European community west of the Mississippi.


State of New Mexico Archives


"Map of the United States of Mexico, according to what has been organized and defined by the various acts of the Congress of said republic, created by the best authorities. "     1847 J. Distrunell

The city was once the capital for the Spanish "Kingdom of New Mexico," the Mexican province of Nuevo Mejico, the American territory of New Mexico (which contained what is today Arizona and New Mexico) and since 1912 the state of New Mexico. Santa Fe was the first foreign capital over taken by the United States, when it was captured during the Mexican-American War, in 1846.


Throughout Santa Fe's long history, the town has also been a regional seat of culture and civilization. Inhabitants have left a legacy of architecture and city planning that today makes Santa Fe a significant historic city in the American West.

It is also recognized as one of the most intriguing urban environments in the nation, due largely to the city's preservation of historic buildings and a modern zoning code, passed in 1958, which mandates use of  its distinctive Spanish-Pueblo style of architecture, based on the adobe and wood construction of the past.

Tourism Santa Fe

Saint Francis Cathedral


The cathedral, located in the center of the city, was built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy between 1869 and 1886. In dramatic contrast to the surrounding adobe structures, the cathedral was designed in the Romanesque Revival style nad includes rounded arches, Corinthian columns, towers and a rose window in the front of the structure.


The Railyard

On February 9, 1880 the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company pulled its first train into the Santa Fe, depot. For the next one hundred years, the railroad brought tourists, business people and new residents to Santa Fe, as the railyard became the city's focal point of activity.

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Like other railroad-related locales around the U.S. Santa Fe’s station, tracks, equipment and surrounding neighborhood began to decline, as railroads were replaced by air travel and interstate highways. By 1987 the Santa Fe railyard was declared a blighted area requiring redevelopment.

Development of building sites commenced in 2006, with a grand opening in 2008. The railyard has been repurposed into a mix of uses serving the diverse interests of the community, including parks, galleries, retails shops and restaurants. And with the New Mexico Railrunner Express commuter service, trains once again regularly arrive and depart from the historic Santa Fe Depot.


New Mexico Histroy Museum

The Railyard Gallery

New Mexico Capitol Building

The New Mexico Capitol Art Collection was created in 1991 when the state legislature founded the Capitol Art Foundation. The Collection consists of nearly 600 artworks, exhibited in the interior public spaces of the State Capitol Complex, as well as on the Capitol grounds. The Collection includes paintings, photography, works on paper, sculpture, mixed media, textiles, ceramic and glass works, as well as furniture. There are over 600 New Mexico artists represented.

New Mexico Capitol Building Gallery

Downtown Santa Fe


"The City Different"

For the past 400 years, the downtown district of Santa Fe Has been a labyrinth of history, art, and heritage. The site is ringed by architecture in the Pueblo, Spanish and Territorial styles that reflect its diverse history.

The center of town includes monuments, restaurants, businesses and art galleries, including the Palace of the Governors (the oldest public building in the U.S.), the New Mexico Museum of Art, and the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. In true pueblo fashion, the much of the architecture is traditional adobe.

Downtown Santa Fe Gallery


New Mexico History Musuem

Another great learning and vistor experience occurred next, when we visited the New Mexico History Museum. The museum is one of the best history museums I’ve ever visited, covering the state’s story from the ancient native Americans, Spanish colonization (including the Pueblo Revolt) and American annexation. It also included more recent history, with some great Project Manhattan exhibits.

New Mexico History Museum Gallery