History of Santa Fe
The area of present-day Santa Fe was originally inhabited by the Tano tribe since at least 1150 A.D. The tribe abandoned the settlement some 200 before the Spanish came. Santa Fe was founded in 1607 or 1609 by a governor of the Province of New Mexico, Don Pedro de Peralta, who built the Palace of Governors. In 1610, Santa Fe became the capital of the province and the Palace of Governors was home to sixty different Spanish governors for the following 200 years. Santa Fe has been a government seat since its founding and it is the oldest capital in the United States. The city remained in the hands of the Spanish until the Mexican War of Independence in 1810. After Mexico won the war, in 1821, Santa Fe became the capital of the Mexican territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico. Trade was soon established between the city and the United States along what was known as the Santa Fe Trail. United States claimed Santa Fe in 1846 and the city remained under American control ever since.
In early 20th century Santa Fe became somewhat of an art colony, as many artists from all over the United States moved there, probably attracted by the climate and the beautiful landscapes. New Mexico became a US state in 1912, with Santa Fe as its capital. The city entered a new period of prosperity that came with new government employers and new buildings arose around the Plaza.
In 1957, the city established zoning codes that defined two distinct architectural styles that have made the city famous and easily recognizable: Pueblo, with soft, rounded parapets and rough woodwork, and Territorial, characterized by brock coping and milled woodwork.
Hispanic residents always made up for a large portion of the population in the city. However, in the 1980s and 1990s they became a minority for the first time, due to an influx of mostly wealthy newcomers, who soon drove up the cost of housing. Economic difficulties still last as the wages in the city are almost 20 percent below the national average while the cost of living is above the national average.
Geography and Climate
Santa Fe lies in the northern section of the Rio Grande Valley, at the southern end of the Rocky Mountains. Most of the city lies at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo range, at 7,000 feet above sea level. The climate in the city is semi-arid continental, which means hot summers and chilly, but not freezing winters. Snowfall is not frequent and when it does occur, it’s light and rarely sticks.
In 2010, Santa Fe had 67,947 residents, of which 48.7% were Hispanics or Latinos of any race, 46.2% were non-Hispanic Whites, 2.1% Native Americans, 1.4% Asians and 3.7% from two or more races. The median household income was $40,392 and per capita income was $25,454.
The economy in Santa Fe is based mainly on government and on tourism (the city receives approximately 1.6 million visitors each year). Research is also an important sector, thanks mainly to the proximity of Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the largest in the USA. Other significant sources of revenue for the city include light manufacturing, retail and healthcare.
The largest employers in Santa Fe are State of New Mexico, Santa Fe School District, U.S. Government, City of Santa Fe, St. Vincent Hospital, Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe Opera and College of Santa Fe.
Culture and Attractions
Santa Fe Plaza is a National Historic Landmark, a well-known symbol of Santa Fe and the central gathering place. Most of the city’s cultural and social events take place on or around the Plaza.
Santa Fe is a multicultural city with rich and thriving art scene, designated as a UNESCO Creative City. One of the most famous New Mexico artists was Georgia O’Keeffe, whose work is exhibited in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. The city has an extraordinarily large number of galleries, most of which are concentrated in the Canyon Road, east of the Plaza. The city also has a lot of outdoor sculptures.
Santa Fe was attractive for writers as well. Some of the famous authors who were born or lived in the city include Cormac McCarthy, D.H. Lawrence, Douglas Adams, Roger Zelazny, Mary Austin and Rudolfo Anaya.
Some of the most important cultural institutions in Santa Fe include New Mexico Museum of Art, Institute of American Indian Arts, Site Santa Fe, Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Maria Benitez Institute for Spanish Arts and others.
The city has three major high schools, operated by Santa Fe Public schools, and six private college preparatory schools. There are also several charter schools and a number of private elementary schools.
Institutions of higher education in Santa Fe include St. John’s College, Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Southwestern College, Santa Fe Community College and the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Santa Fe is served by the Santa Fe Municipal Airport. The nearest major commercial airport is the Albuquerque International Sunport.
Major highways in and around Santa Fe include I-25, U.S. Route 84 and U.S. Route 285. Public transportation is offered by Santa Fe Trails, New Mexico Rail Runner Express, Santa Fe Southern Railway and Amtrak.
Santa Fe has a number of pedestrian, bicycle and equestrian trails, popular equally among the locals and the tourists, such as Dale Ball Trail, Santa Fe River Trail and Santa Fe Rail Trail.