ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s easy to drive through the neighborhoods of Albuquerque and not think much of what you’re passing. Houses and communities have been here for decades, if not over 100 years. Here are just a few of the stories behind some historic Albuquerque neighborhoods.
After World War II, Albuquerque saw a boom in population due to servicemen who had been stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base deciding to stay after the war. “In the meantime, the whole defense industry was growing so you have the growth of Kirtland Air Force Base, you have the growth of Sandia National Labs, you also had Sandia Base – which was distinctive but adjacent to Kirtland – and you had Manzano Base,” said President of the Albuquerque Historical Society Janet Saiers. “So all of these servicemen…raising families, everyone needed a house.”
To meet the exponential growth, home builder Dale Bellamah purchased over 300 acres which, at its core, includes the Princess Jeanne (named after Bellamah’s wife) neighborhood, from Lomas and Indian School to Eubank and Juan Tabo. “His vision was that it was a planned community for all of these new, young families,” said Saiers.
Using a couple of basic models for buyers to pick from, in one year, Bellamah built 1,500 houses. The houses had three bedrooms, a garage, and all of the modern appliances for the time. The neighborhood also featured a park, pool, and tennis courts.
Much like the Princess Jeanne area, the Huning Highland neighborhood was born out of necessity. The Huning Highland neighborhood was established in April of 1880 by Franz Huning at the same time as the railroad made its way through the city and is Albuquerque’s first subdivision.
In the early days of the neighborhood, large houses made up a considerable amount of the housing for Huning Highland. After World War II, those houses were broken up into apartments to ease the lack of housing the city was seeing. “..They made apartments in the garages, in the basements – you name it,” said Historian and Archivist for Huning Highlands Historic Neighborhood Ann Carson. “It was a pretty wild time.”
Carson said one home, 119 High St. SE, still has some remnants from that time. “It had a second building in the backyard, and it had 13 units in it. One back house,” said Carson.
Those houses, many of them Victorian, are the key to what makes Huning Highland unique and date back to around 1890-1910. “The reason they look different is it was the people coming from the east to work for the railroad, and the town was booming,” said Carson.
East coasters brought their materials – bricks and glass – and they could make their houses to what they were used to. The houses’ look has made the area a prime setting for film and television locations.
In the late 1970s, the neighborhood was officially put into the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This has kept the outside look of the houses intact and has also made it a popular living situation for younger generations to move in. “We get tax credits for renovating, so young couples were seeing these houses that were cheap and they were willing to fix them up. Sweat equity, it’s called,” said Carson.
Now, Carson said, the neighborhood is a mix of older and newer generations. Huning Highland currently has four beauty salons, five restaurants, a yoga studio, and a tattoo studio.
The neighborhoods that make up Albuquerque’s North Valley – Alameda, Los Ranchos, Los Griegos, and Los Candelarias – go back to settlements and land grants made in the early 1700s. The area started to grow in the early 1900s when people new to Albuquerque started moving into the valley and buying land. It resulted in a boom of newcomers to the area in the 1920s and 30s.
“It was not until that time that the North Valley was anything other than just villages,” said Francelle Alexander with the Albuquerque Historical Society. “And they were very traditional villages with primarily a chapel, small homes, and usually a patrón – one of the wealthy Hispanic families that would dominate a village.”
Many of the historic buildings in the area were destroyed by flooding in the middle Rio Grande Valley. “It’s hard to find anything in the valley that’s older than the middle of the 19th century,” said Alexander. She said the Alameda church goes back to around 1900 and a few houses along Edith Boulevard are from the late 19th century. “Edith Boulevard, because it was a little higher, those houses didn’t flood as much,” said Alexander.
She said the people who live in the North Valley today have a great sense of pride in the area’s roots. “People in Alameda, people in Los Ranchos, people in Los Griegos or Los Candelarias; they’re very aware that they were once villages,” said Alexander. “When you’re a North Valley person, it’s something that you always brag about.”