Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico, the 32nd largest city (in population) in the United States of America, and the 28th largest city in the United States in land area.
Of the 32 largest cities, Albuquerque is the second highest (in elevation), only exceeded in height by Denver, Colorado. Both cities are “mile high” cities with many sections of each city at an elevation of over 5,200 feet (1,585 meters). The highest sections in Albuquerque are over 6,700 feet in elevation, an elevation equivalent to being halfway up Japan’s sacred mountain, Mount Fuji.
Albuquerque is essentially on the 35th parallel (north) of latitude, placing it solidly within the U.S. “sunbelt”. Albuquerque is over 200 miles further south than Washington D.C., and is about 100 miles further north than San Diego, California. Albuquerque is in the “western” U.S., 106 1/2 degrees west of Greenwich (near London, UK), or about an even 5,000 statute miles west of London, a distance of 8,000 kilometers. The city is 2,000 miles west of New York City (New York) and 800 miles east of the City of Angels (Los Angeles, California).
Mexico is 250 miles away to the south, Mexico City is 1,400 miles away by car, about as long a drive as it is to drive to Portland, Oregon from Albuquerque. The distance between Hong Kong, China and Albuquerque is 7,700 statute miles, making Hong Kong 2,700 miles further from Albuquerque than London.
Albuquerque, New Mexico should not be confused with Alburquerque, Badajoz, Spain, or Albuquerque, Bohol, Philippine Islands. While those two communities tend to be “out of the way” places, Albuquerque, New Mexico is not, and has not been historically.
Coronado, prior to his discovery of Kansas, passed just to the north of Albuquerque in 1540. An improved route, the El Camino Real (King’s Highway) ran from Mexico City north to Santa Fe (less than 60 miles away, is a part of the Albuquerque area). The California Trail went west from Santa Fe through Las Vegas, Nevada and to Los Angeles, California. The Santa Fe Trail, through Kansas and Colorado, connected Missouri and points east to Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
The Butterfield Stage Line (through Albuquerque) was the first east-west commercial land connection uniting America. The Santa Fe Railroad (Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad) connected the eastern U.S. with much of the State of California, going through Albuquerque, but ironically, not actually through Santa Fe itself. The Santa Fe Chief trains were among the crack trains that connected Chicago to California and L.A. Route 66, following a similar route, was the foremost and most famous east-west automobile route before the age of the Interstates. The “Mother Road” made, and still makes, Albuquerque famous for its classic motels, diners, and beautifully restored vintage cars.
Albuquerque’s Sunport (originally Oxnard Field) was the midpoint for TAT Airline, America’s first transcontinental airline, and later for Howard Hughes’ TWA.
Cutter Aviation, headquartered in Albuquerque, was long the hub of private aviation services throughout the U.S. West, and it was Sid Cutter that made Albuquerque the epicenter of hot air ballooning in the entire world, inspired (perhaps) by the unforgetable ballooning scenes in Around the World in 80 Days (1956 movie), in which the introductory space flight scenes (at 4:25 minutes) presented were actually filmed in the skies over New Mexico.
Even Chaco Canyon is only 100 miles away when you live in Albuquerque. This 1,000 year old spiritual center of civilization was connected to a vast cultural and trade confederation that brought (among other things) the first documented use of chocolate in America (meaning in the United States of America), call it “Chacolate” if you will. One might mull that one over, perhaps over your next Cafe Mocha.
History, culture, location. There’s no place like Albuquerque anywhere else in America, or even on planet earth.
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