Old Town and Rio Grande
Until the railroad arrived in 1880, Old Town wasn’t old—it was the town, a cluster of one-story haciendas on the riverbank with the formal title of La Villa de San Felipe de Alburquerque.
Today this area is primarily a tourist destination, the labyrinthine old adobes repurposed as souvenir emporiums and galleries. Despite all the chile-pepper magnets and cheap cowboy hats, though, the residential areas surrounding the shady plaza retain a strong Hispano flavor, and the historic Old Town buildings have a certain endearing scruffiness—they’re lived in, not polished to museum-quality shine.
Because there are few formal sights but plenty of lore in the neighborhood, a free walking tour with the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History is recommended if you have time.
A few blocks west of Old Town runs the Rio Grande, which creates a ribbon of green space through the city and a quiet reminder of the city’s agricultural history.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition