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Encyclopedia > Albuquerque
This article is about the largest city of New Mexico. For other places with this name, see Albuquerque (disambiguation).
Albuquerque skyline in the fall

Albuquerque is a city and the county seat of Bernalillo County, New Mexico U.S.A.. It is situated in the central part of the state, about 325 miles (523 km) southwest of Denver, Colorado (444 miles by road on I-25), straddling the Rio Grande. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 448,607, making it by far the largest city in New Mexico. The metropolitan area has a population 712,738 and includes the city of Rio Rancho, one of the fastest growing cities in the country.

Albuquerque is home to the University of New Mexico and Kirtland Air Force Base as well as Sandia National Laboratories and Petroglyph National Monument. Nestled between the Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande, Albuquerque's climate is usually sunny and dry, averaging no more than 10-12 inches of precipitation per year.

The city hosts the Spanish town of Alburquerque was founded in 1706 as a Spanish colonial outpost. Alburquerque 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."

The village was named by the provincial governor Cuervo y Valdez in honour of the Duke of Alburquerque, viceroy of New Spain from 1702 to 1710. The first "r" in "Alburquerque" was dropped at some point in the 19th century, supposedly by an Anglo-American railroad station-master unable to correctly pronounce the city's name. In the 1990's, the Central Avenue Trolley Buses were emblazoned with the name Alburquerque (note the extra "r" as the fifth letter) in honor of the city's historic name.

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 Texas he made a stand on the 8th of April 1862 at Albuquerque. A day-long engagement at long range led to few casualties against a detachment of Union soldiers commanded by Colonel Edward R. S. Canby.


Image of Albuquerque, New Mexico taken by NASA

Albuquerque is located at 35°6'39" North, 106°36'36" West (35.110703, -106.609991)1.

The Sandia Mountains which include Sandia Peak are situated to the East of the city. The Sandia Peak Tramway runs from the base of the mountain to the peak, and is the longest aerial tramway in the world.

"Sandia" comes from the Spanish for "watermelon". The name is a reference to the mountain's reddish color during sunsets.

The Rio Grande (Spanish for Great River) runs through the city, flowing North to South as it passes down through central New Mexico.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 469.5 km² (181.3 mi²). 467.9 km² (180.6 mi²) of it is land and 1.7 km² (0.6 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.35% water.

The elevation of the city ranges from 4500 feet above sea level near the Rio Grande (in the Valley) to 6500 feet in the Northeast Heights. At the airport, the elevation is 5352 feet above sea level. Interestingly, Albuquerque has one of the highest altitudes of any major city in the United States.

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 are the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks.

Northeast quadrant

This is an area which has been experiencing a housing expansion. It abutts the base of the Sandia Mountains and Sandia Heights neighborhoods, which are situated in or near the foothills, are significantly higher than the rest of the city. The University of New Mexico and some of the most affluent regions of the city are located here.

Northwest quadrant

This quadrant contains Albuquerque's Spanish "Old Town" as well as the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Additionally, the "North Valley" area, which consists of ranches and expensive residential homes along the Rio Grande River, is located in this quadrant. The area on the West side of the Rio Grande River is known as the "West Mesa" and consists primarily of traditional residential subdivisions.

Southeast quadrant

Kirtland Air Force Base, Sandia National Laboratories, the Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute main campus, and the Albuquerque International Sunport are located in the Southeast quadrant. Some more expensive residential developments are located in this quadrant.

In contrast to expensive residences, some of the most poverty striken areas are also located in Southeast Albuquerque. This is where the "inner-city" sections of the city are located. Parts of SE Albuquerque are referred to as the "war zone".

Southwest quadrant

Primarily consisting of agricultural and rural areas, the Southwest quadrant is often referred to as the "South Valley". Downtown Albuquerque and the National Hispanic Cultural Center are also located here.

The southwest area is currently undergoing rapid development. Open range land is rapidly being filled in by cookie cutter subdivisions and big box stores. In 2004, Wal-Mart began construction of a new super center on the site of a former dairy farm.

Culture and Technology

A distinctive architecture that celebrates the Pueblo tradition characterizes many buildings in the city as well as the entire campus of the University of New Mexico.

In Looney Tunes cartoons Bugs Bunny often found upon arriving at the wrong place that he had taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

Albuquerque is home to the Kimo Theater  (http://www.cabq.gov/kimo/)[Carl Boller & Robert Boller architects, 1927] one of the United States' last and best maintained Pueblo Deco theaters. Modern buildings are still occasionally built in this style, combining the colors of Southwestern earth tones, adobe building styles (rounded corners and edges), and decorative motifs from the indigenous cultures with the soaring lines and linear repetition found in American Art Deco architecture.

Examples of Pueblo Deco-style buildings can be seen in Marcus Whiffen's book, "Pueblo deco: The art deco architecture of the Southwest" (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0826306764/102-6956404-0000945).

Even near the center of town, rural characteristics such as the sounds of roosters crowing, still greet the inhabitants.

The city was formerly the home of the Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque for 29 years. However, in July 2004 the group filed for bankruptcy after fund-raising failed to pay off the group's debts. It is expected to disband by Fall 2004.

It is the home of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra (http://www.nmso.org/).

Albuquerque lies at the center of the New Mexico Technology Corridor, a band of high-tech private companies and government intitutions along the Rio Grande. Larger institutions whose employees contribute to the populace are numerous and include Sandia National Laboratories, Kirtland Air Force Base, and the attendant contracting companies which bring highly educated workers to a somewhat isolated region. Intel operates a large semiconductor factory or "fab" in neighboring Rio Rancho (http://ci.rio-rancho.nm.us/), in Sandoval County, outside the city and county, with its attendant large-capital investment.

Albuquerque was the initial home of Microsoft founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory cooperate in an enterprise that began with the Manhattan Project.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 448,607 people, 183,236 households, and 112,690 families residing in the city. The population density is 958.9/km² (2,483.4/mi²). There are 198,465 housing units at an average density of 424.2/km² (1,098.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 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% from two or more races. 39.92% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

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

In the city the population is 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 35 years. For every 100 females there are 94.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $38,272, and the median income for a family is $46,979. Males have a median income of $34,208 versus $26,397 for females. The per capita income for the city is $20,884. 13.5% of the population and 10.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 17.4% of those under the age of 18 and 8.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Colleges and universities

Professional Schools

  • New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics
  • Body Dynamics School of Massage Therapy

Sports teams

Albuquerque is home to the Albuquerque Isotopes minor league baseball team and the New Mexico Scorpions ice hockey team.


External links

  • City's official website (http://www.cabq.gov)
  • Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau (http://www.abqcvb.org)
  • Maps and aerial photos
    • Street map from Mapquest (http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?latlongtype=decimal&latitude=35.110703&longitude=-106.609991&zoom=6)
    • Topographic map from Topozone (http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lat=35.110703&lon=-106.609991&s=200&size=m&layer=DRG100)
    • Aerial photograph from Microsoft Terraserver (http://terraserver.microsoft.com/map.aspx?t=1&s=14&lon=-106.609991&lat=35.110703&w=750&h=500)

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopędia Britannica.

Regions of New Mexico
Llano Estacado
Largest Cities
Alamogordo | Albuquerque | Artesia | Carlsbad | Clovis | Deming | Farmington | Gallup | Hobbs | Las Cruces | Las Vegas | Los Alamos | Los Lunas | Portales | Rio Rancho | Roswell | Santa Fe | Silver City | Sunland Park
Bernalillo | Catron | Chaves | Cibola | Colfax | Curry | De Baca | Dońa Ana | Eddy | Grant | Guadalupe | Harding | Hidalgo | Lea | Lincoln | Los Alamos | Luna | McKinley | Mora | Otero | Quay | Rio Arriba | Roosevelt | San Juan | San Miguel | Sandoval | Santa Fe | Sierra | Socorro | Taos | Torrance | Union | Valencia

  Results from FactBites:
Albuquerque New Mexico : Hotels : Restaurants : Real Estate (537 words)
A mix of three diverse peoples in a breathtaking setting, Albuquerque still retains a certain old-time feel and is a worthy stopover for ancient petroglyphs, authentic Southwest art and cuisine and the picturesque annual Balloon Festival.
Albuquerque is rated one of the top cities for jobs.
Albuquerque's weather is a study in polar extremes— extremes of day and night and extremes of summer and winter.
Albuquerque, Afonso de. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05 (294 words)
Albuquerque sailed with Tristão da Cunha along the coasts of Madagascar and E Africa and captured the island of Socotra (Suqutra).
Albuquerque captured Goa (1510), making it the mainstay of Portuguese power in India; Malacca (1511), extending Portuguese domination to SE Asia; and Hormoz again (1515).
Albuquerque had built forts at Goa, Calicut, Malacca, and Hormoz; reconstructed those of Cannanore (Kannur) and Cochin (Kochi); begun shipbuilding and other industries in Portuguese India; and established relations with the rulers of SE Asia.
  More results at FactBites »



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