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Oldest Neighborhoods  

Albuquerque started out as a loose collection of farms along the river in 1706. Not until the late 1700s were some houses built near San Felipe de Neri Church in what we now call Old Town.

Atrisco on the West Side is even older than Albuquerque. It too was a collection of farms and ranches, founded in 1703 as a Spanish Land Grant. 

As Albuquerque grew, they formed tiny communities named for the most prominent family. In following decades Albuquerque had such satellite communities as Los Duranes, Los Candelarias, Los Griegos, Los Montaños, Los Poblanos, and Los Gallegos. Most were annexed to the city in the late 1940s.

Los Barelas is typical of these enclaves. Around 1825 Antonio Sandoval, a rancher, dug an extension of the old Griegos-Candelaria Ditch across the valley and south along the sand hills at the valley edge to bring water to the fields south of Albuquerque. More farmers moved in, and soon a small village was formed, called Los Barelas after the largest family in the area.

In the North Valley, Alameda is named for an Indian pueblo that once existed in that area. Corrales, named for the corrals of landowner Juan González, dates from the 1700s. It remained a Spanish farming village until after World War II, when artists and writers began to restore old adobe houses.

In 1763 San Miguel de Carnué started on a Spanish Land Grant east of Albuquerque.

Martineztown started when families in the 1800s drove their herds east to the sand hills for summer grazing and camped. The area had a large acequia. Around 1850, Manuel Martín and his wife Anna María decided to settle permanently, and the area came to be known as Los Martínes, and later, Martineztown. Today Martineztown is bounded by Broadway, I-25, Martin Luther King Blvd. and Mountain Road.


After the Railroad

            The railroad spawned a second town, a new commercial district. It became known as New Town, and the original community became Old Town.

The first developers hired civil engineer Walter Marmon to design and lay out the streets of New Town. A Midwesterner, Marmon stuck with the familiar. He laid out a grid of numbered north-south streets. He named the main street parallel to the railroad tracks Broadway because he thought a proper city should have a Broadway. The major arterial was already called Railroad Avenue (later renamed Central Avenue).

In 1880, the same year the railroad arrived, Franz Huning started his Highland Addition east of the railroad between Copper and Iron. It was Albuquerque's first master-planned suburb. Huning’s new subdivision, with its Midwestern-style Queen Anne homes drew merchants, doctors and professionals. (After a period of decline, the neighborhood is now fashionable again and many of the century-old homes are renovated. Huning Highland was named a national historic district in 1979 and a city historic overlay zone in 1981.)

The second housing development was the Perea Addition of José L. Perea, better known as the Downtown Neighborhood District, west of New Town in 1881.

In 1881 Sister Blandina Segale wrote: “I predict this Old Town Albuquerque will not long remain the metropolis.” Two years earlier when she arrived here, “there was not a house where the railroad station is now but the houses are springing up like mushrooms.”

North of New Town was the Mandell Addition, platted in 1880. Located around Fourth and New York (now Lomas), it became known as the McClellan Park Neighborhood. This was a thriving turn-of-the-century residential neighborhood outside the city limits. Residents converted an old apple orchard into McClellan Park, named in 1919 by prominent citizen William McClellan for his wife and mother. The McClellans lived adjacent to the park. The neighborhood faded away as auto dealerships grew along Fourth Street, which was a part of Route 66 through Albuquerque for a time, and railroad-related warehouses went in near the tracks. You can still see a few of the modest and charming older houses tucked away on First, Second, and Third streets.

In 1891 wholesale grocer Martin Stamm filed a plat for the Terrace Addition to sell house lots south of Central to Hazeldine and east of the city limits to Buena Vista, in the area of present-day TVI. Local people thought it was too far away; it then took an hour by horse and buggy to get there. This addition includes the Silver Hill neighborhood west of Yale on Gold and Silver. There were no water lines, so Stamm drilled his own well and provided water to residents.


Early Growth

D.K.B. Sellers was one of the busiest developers of the period. In 1906 he built University Heights south of Central from Yale to Girard. He described it as the “coming aristocratic section of Albuquerque.” He too provided his own waterworks. His two-story water tank is incorporated to a house at 319 Carlisle SE. The next subdivision was the Valley View Addition in 1911.

Both were well outside city limits on the East Mesa. Promoters offered clean air (“Escape the Coal Smoke of Downtown”) and rural life, and the automobile made commuting possible.

            In the early 1900s American Lumber Co.’s sawmill north and east of Old Town began processing logs from the Zuni Mountains in western New Mexico. By 1908 it was the largest manufacturing company in the Southwest. It employed more than 1,000 men in Albuquerque. Nearby workers built their homes of wood or adobe. This became the Sawmill Neighborhood. 

            The railroad had a similar impact on the one-time farming community of Los Barelas. The railroad built its shops east of Barelas on what is now 2nd Street. Ultimately the railroad would employ hundreds of men, and new subdivisions sprang up to house them. To this day Barelas has two distinct types of homes – the adobes of the early Hispanic settlers and the later brick and frame homes.

            In the same way the Eastern Addition, across the tracks from Barelas, sprang up in 1888 to provide housing to railroad workers. Farther south the community of San José began, probably after 1880, when Hispanic and some black workers at the Santa Fe shops and tie-treating plant settled.

After 1910 only one area bordering on downtown remained undeveloped – a  swampy area between the old Barelas Road and the Rio Grande. A real estate company platted the Raynolds Addition between Eighth Street and the city limits (roughly at Seventeenth) in 1912, but little building took place until the late 1930s and 1940s because the city didn’t have water and sewer lines in place. The neighborhood is now a combination of small houses built in the 1920s and Southwestern style apartment houses built in the late 1930s and 1940s.


Housing Boom

The first housing boom was in 1922 with the Country Club Addition, named for the club to the east. Later known as Spruce Park, this neighborhood has a variety of architectural styles from the period between the two world wars.

Development began in 1925 on Grenada Heights on the East Mesa. Parkland Hills, Knob Heights, Monte Vista and College View followed in 1926. Seventeen subdivisions sprouted in quick succession.

In 1928 lawyer William Keleher and contractor A.R. Hebenstreit acquired land from Franz Huning’s heirs and platted the Huning Castle Addition, named for the mansion Huning built on Central and Fourteenth in 1883. Swamps made much of the land unattractive for development, but in 1925 the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy organized and began planning projects to control the river and drain marshy lands. Albuquerque Country Club moved from the East Mesa to its current location in 1928, which added cache to the development. They only got a few homes built before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Most of the homes in this subdivision, which came to be known as the Country Club neighborhood, were built after World War II.


Post-War Boom

The city's biggest growth spurt came after World War II. As Sandia Laboratory was born from a division of Los Alamos Laboratory, a massive influx of new residents poured onto the East Mesa, bringing the city's edge to the Sandia Mountains.   

Construction began in the late 1950s on two major interstate highways, I-40 and I-25, which intersected near the center of town. Albuquerque's population swelled from 35,449 in 1940 to 201,189 in 1960, and the once-small Duke City was feeling some big-city growing pains.

In 1950, the city was rapidly annexing land east and north of its borders, and subdivisions were spreading toward the mountains. That year the Saturday Evening Post wrote of Albuquerque, “New houses go up in batches of 50 to 300 at a time and transform barren mesas before you get back from lunch.” In the four years between 1946 and 1950 the city’s area tripled.

In 1950, Sam Hoffman built the 800-home Hoffmantown Addition north of Menaul and east of . Wyoming In 1953, Ed Snow's Snow Heights Addition followed directly south.

The Bel-Air subdivision, built by Harvey Golightly, initially wanted to incorporate as a separate village. The homes, between Carlisle, San Mateo, Menaul and Candelaria, sold quickly.  It was annexed into the city in 1951.

 In 1954, Dale Bellamah's 1,600-home Princess Jeanne Park, named for his wife, was built between Lomas and Indian School from Eubank to Juan Tabo. Princess Jeanne offered “wife-planned” homes with fireplaces, spacious patios and such new products as linoleum, Formica and Pulverator disposals.

In the early 1950s Bellamah also built the Kirtland Addition just west of the airport. The first residents were white officers from the base. In 1952 Bill Gooden was the first African American to move in. In a 1991 interview he recalled no problems in integrating the neighborhood: “I met my neighbors on both sides and across the street, and we got along well and we enjoyed living there.”


West Side

            People east of the river sometimes think the West Side just exploded in the last few years. In fact, many West Side neighborhoods are as old as much of the Northeast Heights.

West Side development began in 1951, when homebuilder Leon Watson bought land from Florencio Baca, who had lived there since 1936. The development between Central and Bridge near Coors became Los Altos.

Two other West Side subdivisions date from the post-war boom.

In 1949 the Black family, which owned the Seven Bar Ranch on the West Mesa, sold 8,000 acres to Horizon Land Corp., and in 1961 it began developing Paradise Hills. By 1981 Paradise Hills had 1,800 homes on 12,000 acres and 6,000 residents. The Blacks in 1947 had built a general aviation airport, which became home of Cottonwood Mall.

Taylor Ranch and Eagle Ranch followed in the 1970s.

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