After the 300th anniversary celebrations of 2006, Albuquerque continues to offer the visitor a wide range of diversions. For more information, go to the Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.abqcvb.org .
Last April, when i mentioned that I was flying to Albuquerque, several people assumed I was headed on to Santa Fe and seemed surprised that I wasn’t. “What’s there?” someone asked. I said I’d tell him when I got back. Now I know.
I am standing where the great blue sky of New Mexico meets the parched white sand of its desert, and where physics changed the course of world history. It is a bright, clear day. There are no clouds, no wind, no disturbance. The circle I’m in—maybe a hundred yards across—is fenced off by barbed wire. Had I been here on July 16, 1945, at 5:29:45 A.M. , I would have been instantly incinerated by ten-million-degree heat from fissioning plutonium atoms. Not today.
The biggest roadside attraction along I-40 is the row of ten classic Cadillacs half buried, at the angle of the Great Pyramid, with tail fins upthrust, at Stanley Marsh’s Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. The models range from 1946 to 1964. Marsh told me he wanted them to look as if they had been planted by members of some high civilization.Read more »
In 1804 a Pueblo Indian sold his four-room adobe house in the farming community of Taos, New Mexico, to Don Severino Martínez, a Spanish trader. No other details of this transaction are recorded, although the dwelling was to become famous—both for the family who lived in it and for its survival as the best example of a Spanish hacienda in the American Southwest.Read more »
The legend of the most famous of all outlaws belongs to the whole world now. But to find the grinning teen-ager who gave rise to it, you must visit the New Mexico landscape where he lived his short life.
New Mexico is Billy the Kid country. In Santa Fe’s First Presbyterian Church, young Henry McCarty stood by in March 1873 as his mother exchanged vows with William Henry Harrison Antrim. Eight years later, alias Billy Bonney, a.k.a. the Kid, he spent three months in the jail on Water Street. In Silver City he attended elementary school and, not yet fifteen, pulled off a celebrated escape up the chimney of the jail. In Lincoln he fought as a Regulator in the Lincoln County War and, after breaking out of the county lockup, gunned down two deputies.Read more »
Stephen Vincent Benét confessed that he had fallen in love with American placenames, and George R. Steward, author of the classic Names on the Land, wrote that he was born with rapturous feelings towards the names and cities that “lay thickly over the land.” Read more »
In a career that made her one of the greatest American artist of the century, Georgia O’Keeffe claimed to have done it all by herself—without influence from family, friends, or fellow artists. The real story is less romantic though just as extraordinary.
The synthetic colors of the motel in Albuquerque, all orange, purple, and blatant red, shouting the triumph of American civilization over the surrounding harshness, quickly fade from mind as we head out for Santa Fe. The great desert is upon us, like nothing you have seen elsewhere, something “other,” the floor of the world from the first day of creation. Only an occasional crag sprouting from the cracked surface distracts you from the overpowering emptiness as the perfect highway snakes its way on and on this early in the morning.Read more »
When John Sloan—one of eight Eastern painters known as the Ashcan school—first came to Santa Fe in 1919, he was looking for new subjects to paint. He found a remote mountain town of about seven thousand citizens, two-thirds of whom were Spanish-speaking. Among the “Anglos” (persons neither Spanish nor Indian) was a sizable group of artists. To respect creative work is tradition in both Indian and Spanish society, and Sloan was delighted to find himself politely left alone. Above all, he was enchanted by the look of the place.Read more »