Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a city steeped in history and rich with local tradition. It was founded as the capital of the New Mexico province by Spain in 1610, making it the oldest capital city in the United States. As it has grown, Santa Fe has retained its Spanish roots, while becoming an up-to-date and relevant location for modern businesses, tourists, and residents.
Nicknamed “The City Different,” Santa Fe is a unique mix of Native American and Spanish culture. This has given rise to an abundant cultural and arts scene. Santa Fe is the only city in North or South America to be named a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art, and a quick trip to some of the neighborhoods makes it clear why it has been honored with this designation.
The Santa Fe Historic District
The original settlers modeled the historic district after the Laws of the Indies, a plan set forth by the Spanish king to guide the design of the colonies. In the Historic District, this plan is most evident in the town layout and consistent building style. The Spanish envisioned a central plaza, with the town radiating outward from it. The plaza is bound by El Camino Real, the Old Santa Fe Trail, and the Old Pecos Trail. In the heart of the plaza sits the Palace of Governors, which is the oldest continually occupied public building in the United States. Its adobe construction, flat roof, and parapets are key features of the Pueblo Revival architectural style.
In September 2008, the Santa Fe Railyard held its grand re-opening. The excitement on that day rivaled the city’s mood when the first train pulled into Santa Fe in 1880. Railyard Park, at the south end of the Railyard, is home to thirteen acres of art galleries, play areas, and green space, as well as a yet-to-be-built cinema complex. Stop by the Farmer’s Market for some goat cheese and honey to picnic in one of the many designated green spaces, or pick up a one-of-a-kind local art piece. Want someone else to prepare your meal? Enjoy the local fare at The Flying Star Café, or check out the Second Street Brewery at the Railyard. This area is one of the most up-and-coming neighborhoods in Santa Fe, so lofts and apartments are springing up all over the place.
Museum Hill is a must-see for those who wish to truly understand and explore Santa Fe’s history and culture. It features four museums: the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Museum of International Folk Art, and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. It’s an easy ride on the ‘M’ line, one of Santa Fe’s many bus lines. The neighborhoods surrounding Museum Hill tend to be in a higher price range, but offer exquisite views and the opportunity to be near the nexus of Santa Fe culture.