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Interesting Facts about Santa Fe (New Mexico)

1) At 7,000 above sea level, Santa Fe is the United State's highest capital city.

2) Santa Fe is the oldest state capitol in the nation, founded in 1608 by New Mexico's third Spanish governor, Don Pedro de Peralta. It was made the capital of the territory in 1610.

3) Santa Fe's full name is La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís­–the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi. Say that 10 times fast.

4) Santa Fe (1608) is the third oldest surviving city founded by European colonists in the contiguous 48 U.S. states, after Pensacola (1559) and Saint Augustine (1565), both in Florida.

5) Today a museum, The Palace of Governors on the Santa Fe Plaza is the oldest government building in the United States.

6) Lew Wallace wrote Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ while he served as New Mexico territorial governor, from 1878 to 1881, in Santa Fe. Ben-Hur was published in 1880, and made into a movie starring Charleston Heston in 1959. His quote in a letter to wife in Indiana, "All calculations based on experience elsewhere, fail in New Mexico," still rings true today.

7) Santa Fe is the end of the Santa Fe Trail, which travels 800 from western Missouri. The trail New Mexico's capital city Santa Fe is the ending point of the 800-mile Santa Fe Trail. Blazed in 1822, it was the trade route between Mexico and the United States until the 1846 Mexican-American War. It laid the path for the railroad that came in the 1880s.

8) The first road established by Europeans in what is now the United States was El Camino Real, the Royal Highway. Established in the 1540s, by 1581 it was carrying Spanish settlers from Mexico City to Santa Fe. Today, I-25 follows portions of the El Camino Real.

9) William H. Bonney­­–Billy the Kid–lived in Santa Fe in the early 1870s with his mother and step-father, who were married at the Presbyterian Church at 208 Grant Avenue on March 1, 1873. In Santa Fe Bonney learned to speak Spanish, attended school and washed dishes at the La Fonda Hotel, which is still on the Plaza. His family later moved to southern New Mexico, where events led to the Lincoln County Wars and Billy the Kids infamy. He would later return to Santa Fe as a prisoner for three months before being transferred to Mesilla near Las Cruces in April 1881, where he was sentenced to hang.

10) Scientists and others working on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos would first report to a secret office in Santa Fe. The Manhattan Project was the top-secret development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Los Alamos was an isolated Army community north of Santa Fe. Those reporting for duty would report to 109 East Palace Avenue in Santa Fe, which is near the Plaza. Arrangements would then be made to transport the person and their luggage to the secret city. Los Alamos residents were allowed to visit Santa Fe occasionally to shop, but were not permitted to speak to anyone and were sometimes followed by security police. Everyone's address while living at Los Alamos was P.O. Box 1663, Santa Fe.

11) Santa Fe is the third-largest art market in the United States, after New York and Los Angeles.

12) Santa Fe's Canyon Road has more than 100 galleries within its one square mile, making it the densest concentration of art galleries in the world.

13) Ski Santa Fe averages 225 inches of snow a year.

14) The Confederate flag flew briefly over Santa Fe during the Civil War in 1863, before Union forces routed the Confederate Army here back to El Paso after the battle of Glorieta Pass, northeast of Santa Fe.

15) The obelisk in the center of the Plaza is called the Indian War Memorial Monument, and was erected in the 1860s to honor Federal troops killed in battles with Native Americans and Confederate forces. The inscription originally made reference to "savage Indians," but sometime in the 1970s a man dressed in a suit chiseled the word "savage" from the marble inscription. There are also pockmarks left by bullets in the monument.

Things to See in Santa Fe

  1. Canyon Road
  2. Downtown
  3. St. Francis Cathedral
  4. Cross of the Martyrs
  5. Santa Fe Airport
  6. The Railyard
  7. Albuquerque Airport
  8. Museum Hill
  9. The Roundhouse (State Capitol)
  10. Ski Santa Fe

Santa Fe History

La Villa Real de Santa Fe - the Royal Town of Santa Fe - was established by Spanish governor Don Pedro de Peralta in 1608, making the city the oldest continuous capital in what is now the United States. The site at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains was once home to an Indian Pueblo that had since been abandoned. Humble adobe buildings were built around a central plaza that is still the focus of the city today. One of those buildings, the Palace of the Governors, served as the capitol building for Spanish, Mexican and Territorial U.S. governors. Gov. Lew Wallace wrote his epic book Ben Hur while serving here.

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