Skip to main content

Old Town Albuquerque and Old US 66

One of the best things about our blog is having the chance to resurrect or completing unfinished pages/projects from the old gribblenation site.  My 2007 trip to New Mexico is an example.  This is the first of a series of posts covering that enjoyable trip.

I landed in New Mexico on a spectacular October afternoon.  Since I had some time to kill before checking in Albuquerque, I headed south a little bit to get myself accustomed to the New Mexico terrain.  The inn I stayed at was the Casas de Suenos - "The House of Dreams" - which is a former artist colony right on the edge of Old Town Albuquerque.  After checking in and exploring the grounds of what I would call home for the next four nights (a photo of my casita is below), I went across the street into Old Town.

 
Old Town, also known as Old Town Plaza, dates back to the city's founding by Governor Francisco Cuervo y Valdez in 1706.  Old Town covers approximately ten city blocks and includes numerous restaurants, shops, art galleries, museums, and small bed & breakfasts.  Amazingly, Old Town did not become a part of the City of Albuquerque (referred by some as 'New Town') until the 1940s.

 
Like many Spanish settlements of the day, Old Town Albuquerque features a central town plaza and church.  The plaza - which is the center of activity throughout the day - features a gazebo, replica cannons from an 1862 Civil War battle, but also street vendors and musicians.  On this Monday afternoon, a local mariachi band was entertaining visitors to the Old Town Plaza.


The centerpiece of Old Town Albuquerque is San Felipe de Neri Catholic Church.  For over three centuries, San Felipe has been part of the Albuquerque community.  The current church built with five foot thick adobe walls has stood since 1793.  The beautiful church - which saw the addition of two bell towers in 1861 - is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 




After spending the afternoon in Old Town, it was time to get something to eat.  So why not explore Central Avenue, which is an old alignment of US 66.  Albuquerque's Central Ave. is home to a lengthy section of the old Mother Road.  East of town, Central Avenue still has the feel of its Route 66 days.  After passing the campus of the University of New Mexico, six lanes of old 66 heads east towards the Sandia Mountains.  Along the way is a tapestry of neon signs, vintage motels, gas stations, and restaurants that give modern day travelers a taste of what Route 66 was like in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. 
 

Of course at many places along Central, Route 66 is the theme.  This may be the most apparent at none other than a little restaurant called the 66 Diner.  The diner, which includes numerous artifacts from the glory days of Route 66, is a popular stop to tourists, Route 66 enthusiasts, locals, along with college students at UNM.  The 66 Diner is a step back in time, and you can't go wrong with the malts, burgers, and sandwiches.  (Some of which include the extra kick of green chile peppers).
 
After dinner, I headed back to Old Town and retired for the evening and prepared for a very eventful Tuesday.

All photos taken by post author - October 2007

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ghost Town Tuesday; Ben Hur Road/Road 613 to Raymond

While returning from the Mariposa Area this month I decided that I wanted to visit the quasi-ghost town of Raymond and take a "off the beaten path" roadway to get there.  I found just what I was looking for in Ben Hur Road in Mariposa County which reaches Raymond as Road 613 in Madera County.


Ben Hur Road begins on the outskirts of Mariposa near Mormon Bar at CA 49.  From CA 49 the route to Raymond is signed as being 23 miles to the south.


Interestingly Ben Hur Road isn't named after the famous 1959 movie but rather a ghost town along the roadway.  The community of Ben Hur has records showing it had a Post Office by said name in 1890 which obviously implies the community was named after the 1880 novel.  Unlike most roads of this kind the story of Ben Hur Road has been told previously by several newspapers in the 20th Century.

Oakland Tribune (September 1950) Trip to Mariposa via Ben Hur Road

Rock Fence is label of history on Quick Rance (Fresno Bee 1954)

The Oakland Tribu…

"Governor Hunt Cuts Ribbon on Doomsday" - The drawnout legal battle to build the I-95 Fayetteville Bypass

It is Monday, December 15, 1980.  North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt and many other dignitaries take part in a ribbon cutting ceremony opening a new 17 mile stretch of Interstate 95 in Cumberland County.  The new road bypasses Fayetteville to the east and completes Interstate 95 in North Carolina - closing a significant gap in what many consider the backbone highway of the East Coast.  The new road moved Interstate traffic from an at-grade, four lane US 301 lined with numerous motels and restaurants onto a fully controlled and traffic light-free limited access freeway. 

Meanwhile at a Quality Inn along US 301 in Fayetteville, a billboard read "Governor Hunt Cuts Ribbon on Doomsday."(1)

The ribbon cutting put an end to over a decade long heated battle over the routing of Interstate 95 around Fayetteville.  One that made it all the way to the steps of the United States Supreme Court.



Interstate 95 in North Carolina History:

The 181 mile Interstate 95 has a unique story in Nort…

Where the hell is Hill Valley? (US Route 8 south/US Route 395 east)

Recently I made a visit to Universal Studios near Los Angeles.  While on the back lot tour I came across a piece of infamous movie-borne fictional highway infamy; the location of town square of Hill Valley, California on US Route 8/US Route 395.


The above photo is part of the intro scene to the first Back-to-the-Future movie which was set in 1985. To anyone who follows roadways the signage error of US 8 meeting US 395 in California is an immediately notable error.  For one; US 8 doesn't even exist anywhere near California with present alignment being signed as an east/west highway between Norway, Michigan and Forest Lake, Minnesota.  To make matters worse US 8 is signed as a southbound route and US 395 (a north/south highway) is signed as an eastbound route.  At minimum the cut-out US 8 and US 395 shields somewhat resemble what Caltrans used in the 1980s.

Assuming Hill Valley is located on what would have been US 395 by 1985 what locales would be a viable real world analog?  US 39…