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New Mexico

Albuquerque's History

Albuquerque, New Mexico's largest city, was named to honor a Spanish Duke, the 10th Duke of Albuquerque. Colonial Governor Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdez elected the name but over the centuries, the first "r" has been dropped.

In 1706, Albuquerque was founded by a group of colonists who had been granted permission by King Philip of Spain to establish a new villa (city) on the banks of the Rio Grande (which means big or great river). The colonists chose a place along the river where it made a wide curve providing good irrigation for crops, a source of wood from the bosque (cottonwoods, willows and olive trees) and nearby mountains. The site also provided protection and trade with the Indians from the pueblos in the area.

The early Spanish settlers were religious people, and the first building erected was a small adobe chapel. Its plaza was surrounded by small adobe homes, clustered close together for mutual protection against any threats posed by hostile forces in this vast and dangerous country. The church, San Felipe de Neri, still stands on the spot. The building itself has been enlarged several times and remodeled, but its original thick adobe walls are still intact. The church is the hub of Old Town, the historic and sentimental heart of Albuquerque, with activity revolving around shopping and dining. To this day, special holidays and feast days are still commemorated as part of the year-round attractions of this "original" Albuquerque.

Albuquerque stands with one foot in the past, one foot in the present and both eyes on the future. Home to some of the nation's finest high-tech research facilities, Sandia National Laboratory, Phillips Laboratory, and the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque is leading the way in technology transfer. Civilian application of military technology has provided the spark for many an entrepreneur and led to a technological boon. Albuquerque continues to set the pace for success in the southwest as a visitor destination and a great place to live.

San Felipe de Neri in Old Town. This church was the first structure built in Old Town in 1706, and it remains the center of life in Old Town.
San Felipe de Neri in Old Town. This church was the first structure built in Old Town in 1706, and it remains the center of life in Old Town.



Document Information
Source: Albuquerque CVB, Marbles Studio
Last modified: 20041005
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