Santa Fe, New Mexico

Updated: Mar 10, 2020

Santa Fe, New Mexico

March 9, 2020

I spent today walking around downtown Santa Fe. Is the word "chic?" It feels "casually affluent" in terms of the number of boutiques, etc. The folks at the REI store were incredibly helpful, helping me to find places outside of town to camp for free in the Santa Fe National Forest. I checked into a Courtyard by Marriott for tonight - I've been fighting a bug for the past 10 days, and it had gotten the better of me by late this afternoon. Blah.

(The stock market plummet is something. I'd like to think it is an overreaction to the Coronavirus and the falling oil prices. We'll see. I suspect there are some Big Short stories that we'll hear about in the coming weeks!)

Here's some dope on Santa Fe. I was expecting a town more like Charlottesville. It's bigger than Cville and has more of a tourist flare than Cille does. But like Charlottesville, it is home to a Violet Crown (the only other one is in Austin)!

Santa Fe is the capital of the New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in New Mexico with a population of 84,600 in 2018 and the county seat of Santa Fe County.  The city was founded in 1610 as capital of Nuevo México, after it replaced Española as capital, which makes it the oldest state capital in the U.S. Santa Fe is located at 7,199 feet above sea level, making it the highest state capital in the U.S.

UPDATE: Santa Fe is the second oldest continuously occupied city in the U.S. (St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest. in the world, the title goes to Damascus - it’s been inhabited continuously for 11,000 years.)

Santa Fe’s cost of living index is 115.4 driven primarily by housing; the median home price is $380,000.  By comparison, Charlottesville’s index is 104.5, also driven by housing pricing. with a median home price of $289,500.  Both cities have a climate comfort rating of 7.5 out of 10: the median age in Cville is 31 years old versus Santa Fe of 43 years.

Santa Fe is considered one of the world’s great art cities, due to its many art galleries and installations, and is recognized by UNESCO's Creative Cities Network. Cultural highlights include Santa Fe Plaza and the Palace of the Governors, and the Fiesta de Santa Fe, as well as distinct New Mexican cuisine restaurants and New Mexico music performances. Among the numerous art galleries and installations are, for example, Georgia O'Keefe Museum as is a gallery by cartoonist Chuck Jones, along with newer art collectives such as Meow Wolf.

The area surrounding Santa Fe was occupied for at least several thousand years by indigenous peoples who built villages several hundred years ago on the current site of the city. It was known by the Tewa inhabitants as Ogha Po'oge ("White Shell Water Place"). The name of the city of Santa Fe means "holy faith" in Spanish, and the city's full name as founded remains La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís ("The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi").

Tourism is a major element of the Santa Fe economy, with visitors attracted year-round by the climate and related outdoor activities (such as skiing in years of adequate snowfall; hiking in other seasons) plus cultural activities of the city and the region. Most tourist activity takes place in the historic downtown, especially on and around the Plaza, a one-block square adjacent to the Palace of the Governors, the original seat of New Mexico's territorial government since the time of Spanish colonization. Other areas include "Museum Hill", the site of the major art museums of the city as well as the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, which takes place each year during the second full weekend of July. The Canyon Road arts area with its galleries is also a major attraction for locals and visitors alike.

Some visitors find Santa Fe particularly attractive around the second week of September when the aspens in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains turn yellow and the skies are clear and blue. This is also the time of the annual Fiestas de Santa Fe, celebrating the "reconquering" of Santa Fe by Don Diego de Vargas, a highlight of which is the burning Zozobra ("Old Man Gloom"), a 50-foot marionette.

Popular day trips in the Santa Fe area include locations such as the town of Taos, about 70 mi north of Santa Fe. The historic Bandelier National Monument and the Valles Caldera can be found about 30 mi away. Santa Fe's ski area, Ski Santa Fe, is about 16 mi north of the city.

New Mexico was admitted as the United States of America's 47th state, with Santa Fe as its capital, in 1912.

Also in 1912, when the town's population was approximately 5,000 people, the city's civic leaders designed and enacted a sophisticated city plan that incorporated elements of the contemporary City Beautiful movement, city planning, and historic preservation. The latter was particularly influenced by similar movements in Germany. The plan anticipated limited future growth, considered the scarcity of water, and recognized the future prospects of suburban development on the outskirts. The planners foresaw that its development must be in harmony with the city's character.

The history of the city as center for artists and writers dates back to the early 20th Century

After the mainline of the railroad bypassed Santa Fe, the city lost population. However, artists and writers, as well as retirees, were attracted to the cultural richness of the area, the beauty of the landscapes, and its dry climate. Local leaders began promoting the city as a tourist attraction. The city sponsored architectural restoration projects and erected new buildings according to traditional techniques and styles, thus creating the Santa Fe Style.

Edgar L. Hewett, founder and first director of the School of American Research and the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe, was a leading promoter. He began the Santa Fe Fiesta in 1919 and the Southwest Indian Fair in 1922 (now known as the Indian Market).

The city was the site of a Japanese American internment camp during WWII. The camp was expanded in 1943 to include German and Italian nationals. who were considered enemy aliens after the outbreak of war.

Santa Fe's climate is characterized by cold, dry winters, warm summers, and relatively low precipitation. According to the Köppen climate classification, depending on which variant of the system is used, the city has either a subtropical highland climate or a warm-summer humid continental climate, unusual but not uncommon at 35 ° N. The 24-hour average temperature in the city ranges from 30.3 °F in December to 70.1 °F in July. Due to the relative aridity and elevation, average diurnal temperature variation exceeds 25 °F in every month, and 30 °F much of the year. The city usually receives 6 to 8 snowfalls a year between November and April. The heaviest rainfall occurs in July and August.

Here are some photos from my walkabout today.

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