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101 Facts About Albuquerque EVERYONE Should Know

Albuquerque deserves to be on many lists, so we compiled one huge one that tries to do the city justice. Here's a start at some of the things that make Albuquerque both quirky and cool.

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1. Albuquerque was founded in 1706 by a group of colonists who were granted the right to start a city by King Philip of Spain. 

2. The colonists chose a place on the Rio Grande with a wide curve, knowing it would be a good place to irrigate crops.

3. The early Spanish settlers of Albuquerque were religious, so they erected an adobe chapel that still stands today. The chapel, San Felipe de Neri, is located in Old Town on the plaza.

4. Albuquerque was named in honor of the 10th Duke of Alburquerque, Spain. Over the centuries, the first r has been dropped. Its nickname is the Duke City to this day.

5. Albuquerque was an important stop along the Camino Real, a trail that runs from Chihuahua, Mexico to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

6. The Santa Fe Trail was the highway of the southwest during the country’s expansion west. Its close proximity to Albuquerque was part of the reason for the city’s rise in population.

7. Albuquerque's current population is about 556,495 (2013 estimate).

8. The city's population grew nearly 2% from 2010 to 2013.

9. About 60% of Albuquerque's population owns a home.

10. Albuquerque averages 2.42 persons per household.

www.visitalbuquerque.org

11. Albuquerque spans 187 square miles. New Mexico spans 121,298 square miles.

12. Albuquerque lies in the Albuquerque Basin, part of the Rio Grande rift.

13. Albuquerque’s greater metropolitan area includes Valencia, Bernalillo and Sandoval counties. The greater metro encompasses about 400 square miles.

14. There are 2,907 people per square mile in Albuquerque. New Mexico averages 17 people per square mile.

15. Albuquerque has about 44,461 business firms. Approximately 32% are women-owned.

16. The median value of owner-occupied homes in Albuquerque is $190,300.

17. The mean travel time to work for workers 16 and older is 21 minutes. 

18. Albuquerque has 239,166 housing units.

19. Median household income for Albuquerque is $47,399.

20. About 11% of Albuquerqueans are foreign born.

www.visitalbuquerque.org

21. Old Town plaza has been a crossroads since it was founded in 1706. Four flags fly over the plaza: Spain, the United States, Mexico and New Mexico.

22. Old Town was established in 1706. New town was established in 1880 when the railroad came through. 

23. Albuquerque was occupied by Confederate forces for a time during the Civil War.

24. Albuquerque was incorporated as a town in 1885. It was incorporated as a city in 1891. 

25. The University of New Mexico, the largest university in the state, was founded in Albuquerque in 1889.

26. Route 66 was designated in 1926. The original road ran north and south along what is now 4th Street. 

27. In 1937, Route 66 was re-routed to run east to west along what is today known as Central Avenue.

28. Route 66 and Albuquerque grew up together. As travelers came through the city, they were greeted with neon signs and roadside attractions.

29. Albuquerque’s KiMo Theatre is built in the short-lived Pueblo Deco style. Constructed in 1927, its architectural style fuses southwestern and Native American themes.

30. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque contains exhibits that represent the 19 pueblos found in New Mexico.

Ron Behrmann

31. Kirtland Air Force Base was founded in 1940 along Albuquerque's southern edge.   

32. The first gathering of balloons for the Balloon Fiesta was in 1972. It was held in the parking lot of Coronado Center with 13 balloons.

33. Albuquerque is known as the hot air ballooning capital of the world. Its mild temperatures and clear weather make for year round opportunities to launch.

34. Albuquerque has more than 300 resident balloonists. That’s more than any other state in the U.S

35. Albuquerque is known for the “Albuquerque Box,” a serendipitous pattern where the wind blows north at one elevation and south at another, allowing hot air balloon pilots to launch and fly with relative ease.

36. The Albuquerque “Box,” coupled with the city’s clear skies, low humidity and high elevation make for excellent hot air ballooning in October, when the International Balloon Fiesta takes place.

37. In 2011, the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque achieved a Guinness World Record for the Greatest Mass Hot Air Balloon Ascent for most balloons launched within the shortest period of time.

38. In 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen completed BASIC, the first computer language program written for a personal computer. They did so in Albuquerque, where Microsoft was born.

39. Albuquerque’s elevation ranges from about 4,500 feet in the valley to 6,500 feet in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.

40. Albuquerque International Airport has the following airlines serving the city: Alaska Air, American, Delta, New Mexico Airlines, Jet Blue, Southwest, United, and US Airways. 

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41. Albuquerque has a mayor-council form of government. There are nine councilors. The current mayor is Richard Berry.

42. Albuquerque has 17 library branches, all of which have free wi-fi access.

43. Albuquerque has an Art in Municipal Places ordinance that puts aside 1% of the city’s construction funds derived from the general obligation bond program and certain revenue bonds. Works of art are commissioned or purchased with the funds.

44. Albuquerque has been recognized as one of the greatest cities in the country by Forbes and Popular Science magazines.

45. The American International Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque Old Town has the largest collection of live rattlesnakes in the world.

46. Albuquerque’s west side is bordered by five dormant volcanoes that were formed about 190,000 years ago.

47. Albuquerque’s dormant volcanoes are still cooling. When snow falls in the area it melts first atop the volcanoes.

48. Albuquerque has a grove of cottonwood trees along the Rio Grande which are called bosques. The bosques provide the city with a unique ribbon of green through the surrounding desert.

49. The Cibola National Forest borders Albuquerque to the east along the foothills. The forest also provides the city with an eastern edge of green.

50. The word sandia is Spanish for watermelon. The Sandia Mountains turn a rosy pink at sunset, hence the name.

Derek Matthews

51. The Sandia Man Cave at the north end of the Sandia Mountains was excavated 1937-1941, when artifacts seemed to indicate a culture 25,000 years old. However, the celebrated finds appear to have been a hoax.

52. Albuquerque is home base for some well known architects, to include Antoine Predock and Bart Prince.

53. Albuquerque is home to the Gathering of Nations, the largest Native American powwow in North America.

54. Albuquerque has its own adobe trolley car: ABQ Trolley, which provides locals and visitors with a variety of special tours. One tour follows the Breaking Bad trail. 

55. El Pinto, the famous 1200 seat restaurant run by identical twin brothers, may soon have its own reality television show. It is in the test stages now.

56. El Pinto salsa has labels that sometimes feature the faces of Katy Perry, Joe Biden and other famous people on them.

57. Because of its acequia system, its possible to ride a horse through the city.

58. In 2013, Priceline.com named Albuquerque the best city in America for traveling with pets.

59. The Huffington Post named Albuquerque one of the 10 Cities to Visit in Your 20s (2014). 

60. Time.com named Albuquerque one of the 7 Great Vacation Spots That Won't Bust Your Budget (2014).

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61. Albuquerque is home to the Fractal Man, aka Jonathan Wolfe, whose First Friday fractal shows are seen at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in a full dome planetarium. They feature original music and are found nowhere else in the world.

62. Albuquerque is home to Dr. Larry Crumpler, one of the principal investigators of the Mars Rover. Dr. Crumpler works at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

63. The only Triassic dinosaur hall in North America can be found in Albuquerque at the Natural History Museum.

64. The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque is the most visited museum in the state.

65. The Paseo del Bosque Trail in Albuquerque was listed as one of the top 9 biking trails in the U.S. by Oyster.com

66. Albuquerque was ranked as one of the 25 Most Beautiful Cities in America by Budget Travel (2014). 

67. Albuquerque is known for its cycling trails. With more than 400 miles of bike trails and paths in the works, it is becoming a cyclist destination.

68. Albuquerque was listed as a top U.S. travel destination by Filipkey.com (2014).

69. AARP listed Albuquerque as one of the Best Cities to Visit in 2014.

70. British Airways listed Albuquerque on their "Where to Be Seen in 2014" list.

Dick Thompson

71. Albuquerque has a state park within the city--the Rio Grande Nature Center.

72. Tingley Beach isn't really a beach, but once was something like one. The series of ponds that exist today are known for their fishing. But from the 1930s to the 1950s, Tingley Beach was used as a swimming area. 

73. UFC fighter Carlos Condit, the former UFC Interim Welterweight champion, lives and trains in Albuquerque. He's an Albuquerque native.

74. Indie rock group The Shins were originally based out of Albuquerque.

75. The Rio Grande is classified as an exotic river because it flows through desert. It has this in common with the Nile.

76. Albuquerque and its suburbs stretch into three counties: Bernalillo, Sandoval and Valencia.

77. Albuquerque was once a sanitorium town and a destination for those afflicted with tuberculosis.

78. The city has an average change of temperature of 27 degrees from day to night throughout the year. Days are warm and nights cool down.

79. High SPF sunscreen is recommended in Albuquerque because of its high elevation of over 5,000 feet. Albuquerque really is the mile high city (sorry, Denver).

80.The tallest building in Albuquerque is the Bank of Albuquerque tower. It rises 22 floors and 351 feet downtown.

Jay Blackwood

81. Albuquerque is known as a great city for movie and television production. MovieMaker magazine named Albuquerque a top 10 destination for “best place in America to make movies and call home” for the last seven years.

82. Albuquerque’s tax incentives bring filmmakers to the area. Some have liked the city so much, they have residences here.

83. The 28 acre Albuquerque Studios opened in Albuquerque in 2007. It has eight sound stages and a total of 168,000 square feet. One of the more famous films produced there was The Avengers in 2011.

84. Albuquerque is derived from the Latin words "albus" and "quercus" which mean white oak. 

85. The original city of Alburquerque in Spain near Portugal is known for its white oak trees from which cork is made.

86. Al Unser Sr., Al Unser Jr. and Bobby Unser all live in Albuquerque. The Unsers are known as winners of the Indianapolis 500 race. The Unser Museum in Albuquerque displays their winning history.

87. The first manned balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean, the Double Eagle II, was piloted by Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman, all from Albuquerque.

88. The famous World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle made Albuquerque his home. His house is now a branch library.

89. Albuquerque is surrounded by Sandia and Santa Ana Pueblos to the north, Isleta Pueblo to the south, and Laguna Pueblo to the west. To the east, the Sandia Mountains border the city.

90. The downtown skyline of Albuquerque at night glows with a variety of colors. The Wells Fargo building is lit in green; the DoubleTree Hotel and Compass Bank is lit in blue; the rotunda of the county courthouse is lit in yellow; the tops of the Bank of Albuquerque and Bank of the West are lit in red-yellow.

www.visitalbuquerque.org

91. The New Mexico Rail Runner runs its passenger trains north to Santa Fe and south to Belen, with a number of stops in Albuquerque. 

92. Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque were founded in 1949. It is one of the largest employers in the city.

93. The Sandia Tramway opened in 1966. It was the longest tram of its kind in North America.

94. The world's largest collection of cookbooks is in Albuquerque. Sue Jimenez has 2,970 cookbooks, an official world record.

95. The Albuquerque Isotopes are a minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their name came from a Simpsons episode where the Springfield Isotopes ball team considers moving to Albuquerque.

96. Albuquerque is a rare city where you can play tennis and go skiing on the same day. The weather tends to be fine and winter sports are found after a short drive into the mountains.

97. Weird Al Yankovic has a song called "Albuquerque" which tells the tale of a man who moves to the city and has strange misadventures. 

98. Albuquerque is home to an active craft beer community. Local breweries include Marble, La Cumbre, Bosque, Il Vicino and more. The brew scene continues to thrive and grow.

99. 150 years before the first California wines were made, there were several wineries and vineyards in the Albuquerque area. Spanish missionaries planted grapes in the Rio Grande valley, making it one of the oldest wine-making regions in the U.S.

100. The annual Fiery Foods Show takes place in Albuquerque every year. It is the largest show of its kind in the world.

101. A culinary center, Albuquerque is host to many wine, beer and food festivals. It has its own Salsa Fiesta every September in Old Town.