Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Albuquerque Walking Tour II: Downtown


Last week I blogged about our walking tour of Huning-Highlands Neighborhood of Albuquerque.
After we had coffee, and walked around the newly rennovated Old Albuquerque High School Complex, we crossed south of Central Avenue to wander the streets of the Near-East Downtown area, and then crossed the railroad tracks into downtown proper on the Lead Avenue Overpass.
As we walked through the First Baptist Church complex (it was the first non-Catholic church in the center of ABQ) at the edge of Huning-Highland, we could look west and see the old and new buildings of Downtown.

At the far left fore is the Sunshine Bank building, and behind it, the Quest Building. The skyscraper in the Middle is the Albuquerque Bank Building, and in front of it is the Convention Center. To the right is the Hyatt Hotel.

Looking west across the tracks from the Near East Downtown Neighborhood, we look directly at the the Old Alvarado Hotel--Harvey House area. This burned down in two stages. Long before we lived in Albuquerque, the hotel was lost, and about 20 years ago, the Old Train Station burned. Oddly enough, it did so when I was visiting family in Illinois. When I left, I left from the Old Train Station. When I came home, the station was a pile of burnt rubble.

The Near-East Downtown area has many graceful old homes that were rented by railroad workers and by the Harvey House management to board their employees.

The newly-built Alvorado Transportation Center on First Street south of Central Avenue, in Downtown proper, west of the tracks.

The Atchinson, Topeka and the Santa Fe (a.k.a. "the Santa Fe Railroad") was brought to Albuquerque by Oscar Huning, the tycoon who developed the Huning-Highlands neighborhood and the Country Club neighborhood further west.

The architecture of the old Occidental Life Insurance Building (now Tally Systems) was based on one of the Moorish building in Cordova, Spain. It has the graceful Arabic arches and stylized cross windows that mark this style, and yet inside the arches, the glass windows are thouroughly modern. This is typical of American city architecture from the Rococco period.

Albuquerque's first skyscraper, the Sunshine building is now home to the Sunrise Bank. The Sunshine Theatre still occupies the northwest corner of the first floor. In the lobby of the bank, a modern elevator with bronze doors stands right next to the old elevator that had cast-iron cage doors. One of the parents on the tour had a great-aunt who used to be an elavator operator in the Sunshine building.

At the bottom-center of the picture is the Boychick's friend A, in the green shirt. In front of A and to the left (next to the white truck) is the Boychick's back, jacket flung over his shoulder and the Fedora on his head.

At then heart of Downtown, on Fourth and Central, is one of the old Ilfeld buildings, now lovingly restored.
The Ilfelds were German Jews, who brought Reform Judaism to Albuquerque. They crossed the plains with the Railroad to Las Vegas New Mexico, which had the first Askenazi congregation in New Mexico. Some of the family, along with Albert Grunsfeld, and the Seligmans, founded Congregation Albert (named after the Grunsfeld patriarch), the oldest Reform synagogue west of the Pecos and East of the Sierra. Solomon Bibo, another founder, took an Indian wife and served as the first non-native governor of Acoma Pueblo.

The building now houses Nick's Diner--very good Greek and American food--and has apartments above.

Next week: The old Kimo Theater restored!


Kaber said...

I always love reading/viewing your walking tours!!!! it's great to make the place you live daily such an educational adventure!

Melora said...

That is a beautiful city!

christinemm said...

Hi Elisheva,
Totally different subject...

I just reviewed a book on dysgraphia that I had bought to enlighten myself. It was a big waste of my money and so useless to me that I am returning it to Amazon.

I didn't know if this topic was of interest to you, it is about dysgraphia.

The book is called "The Official Parent's Sourcebook on Dysgraphia" by Parker and Parker.

You can read my review here.

Have a great rest of this weekend!