Several Pueblo Indian villages dating back between 1050 and 1150 originally inhabited Santa Fe, the capitol of New Mexico. One of the earliest known settlements, considered today as downtown Santa Fe, was a cluster of homes centered on the location called “the plaza”. Named Ogapoge, this Native American village spread for half a mile to the south and west. The Santa Fe river – a seasonal water way – was once a year round stream until the 1700’s. The river was recognized in 2007 as the most endangered river in the United States according to the conservation group American Rivers.
The name “Santa Fe” literally translated from Spanish means “holy faith”. The full name when founded was “La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis”- translated means “The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi”.
In 1851, Jean Baptiste-Lamy arrived in Santa Fe and began construction of Saint Francis Cathedral and establishing El Colegio de San Miguel. This centrally located church, recently renovated is still a vibrant ministry of the catholic community in Santa Fe. El Colegio de San Miguel took 7 years to recruit Christian Brothers from France. A solid Catholic education was highly sought after by affluent young men from throughout the area- one of which was William H Bonney (aka Billy the kid). In March of 1862, the Confederate flag of General Henry Sibley flew over Santa Fe for a few short days until defeated by Union troops.
Santa Fe was originally envisioned as an important stop on the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. However, as tracks were laid into New Mexico, civil engineers concluded it to be more practical to go through Lamy (a small village south of the city of Santa Fe). A branch line was completed from Lamy to Santa Fe in 1880. Three original conductor homes made from red brick were erected for Railway personnel and still stand on the corner of Galisteo Street and Manhattan just across from Pueblo Bonito bed & breakfast inn. Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroads extended a narrow gauge, called the “Chili Line” from the nearby city of Espanola to Santa Fe in 1886. The result of bypassing Santa Fe however created a gradual economic decline. This economic decline was reversed in part when the creation of a number of resources for the arts and archaeology occurred.
Santa Fe became the headquarters for the School of American Archaeology mainly because the historic Palace of the Governors was provided for its homebase. The Museum of New Mexico was then established in 1909 as an agency of the school. Thus through the museum, the school took an early interest in promoting and preserving the artistic traditions of Southwestern Indians. Edger Lee Hewett (director of the school) and Kenneth M Chapman (an artist hired by Hewett), provided extensive support for Indian artists by offering studio facilities, as well as collecting and exhibiting their work. In 1922, the School sponsored the first Southwest Indian Fair, precursor of today’s world-renowned Santa Fe Indian Market which consistently features renowned artists like San Ildefonso black potter Maria Montoya Martinez.
1912 New Mexico became the 47thstate of the United State of America with Santa Fe as its capitol city. From1942-46, Los Alamos (40 minutes north of Santa Fe) was base to the Manhattan Project. Santa Fe assumed a vital role in providing support to non-essential military personnel with services, housing, provisions and entertainment. Manhattan Avenue (named after the project) is approximately three blocks south of Santa Fe’s plaza and connects to the rail yard district. This provided families with secure and convenient downtown Santa Fe housing while taking up residence in New Mexico and guarding Los Alamos. Pueblo Bonito bed & breakfast located at 138 W Manhattan was at that time apartments which provided George Sanders (Robert Oppenheimers personal body guard), his wife and infant daughter a comfortable home (see photos).
Today Santa Fe, NM is a well known center for arts that reflect the multicultural character of its inhabitants and the city. Santa Fe is generally considered to be the second largest art center in the United States after New York City. The city and surrounding areas have a high concentration of artists, which have come over the decades to capture the natural beauty of the landscape and essence of Native American culture. A well known New Mexico based painter was Georgia O’Keeffe, who lived in Santa Fe, but primarily in Abiquiu (a small village 50 miles from Santa Fe in Northern New Mexico). The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in downtown Santa Fe is devoted to exhibitions of her work and associated artists or related themes. Opened in 2006, it holds over one thousand of her works in all media and is funded by a private foundation. O’Keeffe’s friend, well known western nature photographer Eliot Porter, died in Santa Fe.
Canyon Road, just a 5-minute stroll from Pueblo Bonito Inn is notorious for the large number and high quality of art galleries all within a mile stretch. Described by Santa Fe visitors as “an art lovers Disney land” this is a major destination for collectors, tourists and locals. Canyon Road Art Galleries showcase a wide variety of styles from contemporary to Southwestern to experimental and include but are not limited to European, Taos, Masters, and Native American pieces. Breath taking outdoor sculptures line the street and galleries feature notable sculptors connected with Santa Fe like Allen Houser, Doug Hyde (studied under Houser), and Glenna Goodacre. Is it a wonder that Santa Fe is a designated UNESCO Creative City, and is considered one the best places in the world to shop specifically for Native American Indian arts and crafts?
In 2011 Santa Fe, NM was voted #2 Destination by Conde Nast reader’s choice award and #5 Most Popular North American Travel Cities by Travel+Leisure Magazine for the 10th consecutive year.Santa Fe is undoubtedly one of the most unique US travel destinations offered to New Mexico visitors. Santa Fe tourists enjoy numerous activities and events including high quality arts and culture, top notch native cuisine, breathtaking natural beauty, nationally ranked spas and museums, world history, US history and New Mexico history just to mention a few. Nick named “the city different” for a reason, its a unique place every American should experience at least once in their lifetime. Be warned however, the lure of the relaxed, laid back “manana” culture is intoxicating. How else better to experience the old world charm of historic Santa Fe than in a 150 yr old adobe pueblo-style compound turned Santa b&b- Pueblo Bonito bed & breakfast inn. Call us today 1-800-461-4599 for a memorable historic Santa Fe vacation visit!
Credits: wikitravel.org as directly connected to pages from hot links provided; Santa Fe Countys Talk of the Town (Sea Bird Publications inc).