Albuquerque, New Mexico - the city known for hot air balloons and nuclear research. It's a place with an exciting past and a flourishing future. Walking through the streets of downtown Albuquerque, one would see bright neon signs plastered on the shops and boutiques. Stores display their merchandise as artwork; shoes are placed in glass cases to be admired. According to Matthew Jaffe, a writer for a travel website, Sunset, downtown Albuquerque is a "neighborhood hangout with style". By day, Albuquerque is a family-friendly shopping retreat. Once the sun sets, music and nightclubs take over the streets and Albuquerque is filled with dancing and drinks. This is a city of excitement, fun, and adventure.
Albuquerque has a widely varied and interesting history. Numerous Native American tribes passed through the area, most famously the Anasazi tribe, which vanished without a trace and left behind pottery shards, grinding stones, and breathtaking cities carved on the sides of sheer cliffs. However, the tribes that remained were eventually chased away or killed by Spanish conquistadors, carving a path through the New World. Many Spanish settlers chose to stay in the area that would soon become Albuquerque, named for a Spanish duke, because of the availability of grazing lands for sheep and naturally occurring protection from rightfully vengeful Native Americans. Later, more Spanish settlers arrived, drawn by the ultimately fruitless pursuit of gold. It remained a small trading post for the 16th and 17th centuries, but as the United States began to expand westward, it saw greater numbers of visitors and eventual settlers. Albuquerque's population truly began to expand during the 1849 Californian Gold Rush, as unsuccessful miners headed east would occasionally chose Albuquerque as their home. As railroad travel became more predominant in the 1880's, greater numbers of white settlers came toward the city and remained in what had been, up until that point, a predominantly Hispanic city. In later years, Albuquerque again grew in size as a result of westward travel. Because Route 66, a popular route to California for poor families escaping the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression, runs through the city, families unable to make it all the way to the 'promised land' of California, or those returning after an unsuccessful attempt at finding a livelihood in the Golden West would instead reside in Albuquerque. A decade or two later, Albuquerque would again serve an important national function. During the end days of World War Two and the onset of the Nuclear Age, the New Mexican desert was determined to be the perfect testing ground for nuclear weapons and were used as such for years. The capital of New Mexico has played a role in nearly every part of American history, from tribal grounds to the atomic bomb.
Albuquerque today honors it's long and storied past. As nearly every official website will quickly remind you, the city is nearing it's tricentennial celebration, and museums dedicated to nearly every era abound. However, the city's history is not confined behind glass cases. Vintage neon signs from Route 66's heyday are lovingly preserved and lit nightly, and even the baseball team reflects Albuquerque's radioactive past (the Albuquerque Isotopes are immensely popular.) The stunning New Mexican landscape around Albuquerque has provided scenery for pop culture phenomenons such as Breaking Bad and The Avengers. The city offers upscale shopping and multitudes of art galleries as well. Hunting is a common pastime, so much so that the state Fish and Game Department has provided rare African game to break up the apparent monotony of hunting wildlife such as big horn sheep and quail. Albuquerque offers many tourist attractions unique to the area, such as surrounding ghost towns and ancient monuments, most notably the Petroglyph, providing an interesting mix of modern and new.
While today this city is known primarily for it's appearance as Walter White's hometown, it's obviously so much more than that. It serves so many purposes and is constantly changing as the culture and people around it change. There are so many distinct places and people in this part of the country, that's it hard to believe it's not as famous as New York City or L.A. Albuquerque is a melting pot of people that allows one who visits to have so many different experiences in just one day. For instance, the Indian Pueblo is located nearby to the Botanic Gardens and the bustling downtown area. It's no wonder that it is a major stop on the Amtrak train.