Albuquerque History

Albuquerque History

The History Of Albuquerque And Its People

Even if you've lived here, you probably only know Albuquerque history in bits and pieces. Most of us learn the essentials, or the big historical events, and pretty much leave it at that.  

It’s time to go a little bit deeper and explore the nuances in our history.

Albuquerque history is an incredibly interesting, winding story. We have many influences in our culture due to the many settlers that came to New Mexico over the centuries. You will find influences from the Pueblo Indians, the Spanish, from Mexico, and from other European countries.

The History Of Albuquerque

Albuquerque was founded officially in 1706 and just celebrated its Tricentennial! Yes, it really is 300+ years old. Of course, it isn’t nearly the same city now that it was 300 years ago, but much of the foundation in lifestyle, culture, and religious beliefs remain to this day. It has grown into a large city of approximately 840,000 people.

albuquerque new mexico
The Albuquerque Horizon

The city is a result of different influences brought in by conquerors, blended with existing cultural norms and shaped over the last 300 years. The Native Americans, specifically the Pueblo Indians, were the first known settlers. Their history in Albuquerque begins more than a thousand years ago.

The Pueblo Indians

All the way back in 2,000 B.C. the Rio Grande Valley was cultivated and developed by our ancestors. Even before being discovered by the Europeans who would eventually conqueror us, the Pueblo people already had their own longstanding beautiful culture and were already equipped with basic and advanced skills in pottery, ceramic making, crafts and arts. It was definitely surprising to the conquistadors that our people were so skilled. Traditional techniques in these areas have been handed down from generations to generations and are still being practiced, and continually preserved, by the people.

The Spanish Conquistadors

A big part of the history of Albuquerque is the influence the Spanish conquistadors had. While our native people were very skilled in arts and crafts, the conquistadors brought with them weapon making skills and metal refinement skills. Also, the native people picked up some agricultural practices from the Spanish.

The amazing thing is that our ancestors were very adaptable and when a new skill or trade was learned, it was integrated into the lifestyle. As such, when the settlers from the East Coast came they were also surprised how skilled the residents of New Mexico were.

cabeza de vaca, new mexico history
Cabeza de Vaca

Cabeza de Vaca is probably the most recognized conquistador. He came to the New Mexico area while looking for Florida and returned to Spain claiming to have found the "Seven Cities of Gold".
However, the main Spanish conquistadors that explored the Albuquerque area were under the leadership of General Francisco de Coronado in 1540. He branded the area as the “Kingdom of New Mexico”. Later on, other Spanish explorers brought expeditions to the area.

In 1598, by permission of King Philip II of Spain, colonists built and established a new villa (a city) near the Rio Grande. Under the direction of Don Juan De Onate the colonists chose a perfect place for irrigation, on the banks of the Rio Grande, which teemed with fish and had an abundance of wildlife. The villa was built at the foot of the high mountains near the river.

There's More Albuquerque History To Explore. Click Here For Books Galore!

How We Got Our Name

The history of Albuquerque includes how we got our long, strange name. But really, it is not so strange at all. Albuquerque is still a familiar name in Spain.

albuquerque, albuquerque new mexico

Francisco Cuervo y Valdez, the Governor of the new colony, sent a report to the Duke of Alburquerque in Spain. In it was news about the new villa in New Mexico. It was initially named after the Duke of Spain, hence La Villa de Alburquerque. Over time, as centuries passed, the letter “r” in Alburquerque was omitted. Today, the villa is known as Albuquerque.

Albuquerque Today

Albuquerque history doesn't stop 100 years ago. We are still building history every day. Today, Albuquerque is considered the research and technological industry’s center point in New Mexico.

Advanced as it seems, the area still has a strong connection with its rich past. The Old Town Plaza and the preservation of the rock carvings at Petroglyph National Monument are proof of that. In fact, even the decaying trail of neon signs located along Route 66 can be found. And let me tell you, we Burquenos (that’s what Albuquerque residents are known as) love our Route 66!

Visit our page about Albuquerque as it is today.
Old Town Plaza
You’ve read some references to Old Town, which is the historic center of Albuquerque. The European settlers were a very religious people. In fact, much of the conquering was done in the name of the church. They erected a small chapel in the center of their town, The Plaza, in 1719 and named it San Felipe de Neri in honor of King Phillip II of Spain. The building collapsed in 1792 after a very heavy rain. In 1793 a new church was built on the same spot. It has remained intact and is one of the oldest buildings in the city. Albuquerque history is much richer due to this spiritual heart to the city.

albuquerque old town, san felipe de neri
San Felipe de Neri Church
Albuquerque History & The Tricentennial
In 2006 Albuquerque celebrated its Tricentennial anniversary. Reminiscing and being proud of where our history and ancestors came from was the main focus of the celebration. The people living here put high regards on their roots. It is extremely important for us to not only deeply understand and appreciate our history, but also to continue to honor it with ancient traditions, rituals, and practices. Many different people have affected and influenced Albuquerque history and its culture, beliefs and practices. We are the original “melting pot”, although not entirely without bloodshed.

Read about our state capital, Santa Fe, for more about the history of New Mexico.

Indeed, Albuquerque history plays an essential role in the lives of Burquenos. Appreciating the past has become an integral part in their daily lives. Because of this, many traditions live on.

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