The development of Central Avenue east of Huning’s Highland began in the late 1920s and 1930s and pre-dated Route 66. The post World War II growth in auto travel brought increased commercial activity to the shops and restaurants along Central that were dependent upon people who lived in the adjoining neighborhoods and came and went by foot or streetcar. However, The late 1930s saw the realignment of U.S. 66 from its north/south orientation through Albuquerque to an east/west alignment along Central Avenue. By the 1940s and the early 1950s Route 66 had begun reflect its function as America’s “mother road”. Historic and culturally significant buildings resulting from the reoriented Route 66 can still be found in the many gas stations, motor courts, neon signs, and roadside restaurants present on Central Avenue both east and west of Downtown. (Note: The Original (pre 1939?) Route 66 orientation went through the North and South Valley on 4th Street, through Barelas and Downtown and along the eastern edge of Wells Park.)
With the mass production and acceptance of automobile traffic and population growth, more Neighborhoods sprung up eastward of Huning’s and Downtown. The first of these are Silver Hill Historic Neighborhood, ( located south of Central between I-25 and Yale), the University Heights addition (located south of Central between Yale and Girard), and the Monte Vista Addition, (located between Girard and Carlisle). These properties typically have narrow, deep lots with alley access to a rear yard.
Spruce Park is an interesting and partially historic area west of the main UNM Campus, North of Central and between I-25 and University Avenue. It was built up a bit later than University Heights and Silver Hill, primarily between the 1930’s late 1940’s and tends to contain larger homes in a Spanish Colonial or post-modern art deco tradition, peppered by 1950’s and 60’s retro style infill. Las Lomas Blvd is lined by stately old trees and the area is a favorite for both University Faculty and fraternity/sorority houses.
Silver Hill, University Heights and the Silver Avenue Historic District (1900-06): In the first quarter century of the 1900’s, Silver Avenue developed as a desirable street, since it was enhanced with curbs and gutters, a median, and the planting of elm trees in 1926. The University Heights area was described in a promotional brochure as “The coming aristocratic section of Albuquerque" and that is not exactly how the University Heights and Silver Hill areas developed during the 1920s and 1930s - not as super affluent 'aristocratic' sections of town, but as desirable, upper middle-class neighborhoods comprised mostly of single family houses with some duplexes and small scale apartments. Small scale, Craftsman builders constructed most of the homes in the neighborhood - usually at the rate of two or three per year.
During the Great Depression, WPA projects in Silver Hill included the construction of the Heights Community Center, now a City of Albuquerque Landmark, and Roosevelt Park.
Today Silver Hill reflects this heritage and is the location of many historically significant houses, including the former home of Mayor Clyde and Carrie Tingley. On Silver Avenue, in what was recently dedicated the “Silver Avenue Historic District”, you can still see surviving, (restored and un-restored) Craftsman Bungalow style homes anchored by a wide and well kept boulevard with a recently revitalized median of trees and grass.
University Heights (1916): In University Heights, many homes have fallen into disrepair or may have even been demolished due to years of homeowner neglect or being heavily used as student rentals. The original homes in this neighborhood tend to be even smaller than Silver Hill, and more mixed in with Southwest style Spanish bungalow adaptations and 1950’s pueblo style homes. Recently, homes in this traditionally low maintenance area have been fixed up or restored. Crossing Girard and going into the Monte Vista Addition, housing values for single family owner occupied housing, and overall quality, go up again.
Nob Hill Commercial Strip
Monte Vista Addition (1926) Most of these moderate size homes are single level, owner occupied properties of various styles with hardwood floors and fireplaces. Many still have limited square footage and one bathroom but many also have been expanded, have experienced extensive renovation and/or updated landscaping. This area is known as the heart of Nob Hill and is one the most walkable and desirable parts of urban Albuquerque. If visiting the area you will want to check out the small, mostly local shops and restaurants located along Central Avenue. Please pay special attention to our sponsors located here, Gertrude Zackary, Flying Star and La Montanita Co-op are a sampling who help keep this web site up and the Historic Homes Tour going each year.
Further east along Central Avenue lies the College View Addition (1926), the Granada Heights Addition (1925) and the Mesa Grande Addition (1931). In the three previous neighborhoods, the older homes are mixed in with Arts & Crafts, Modern, Northern New Mexico, Spanish Colonial, and a few Pueblo style homes. As development creped east, the mix of housing styles became more varied and eclectic. Individual residents purchased lots and hired builders, resulting in a mix of housing quality, size and style. Construction on these lots spanned from the 1930’s through the 1950s, with modern infill projects dotting the landscape even into current day.
Broadmoor (1945) The Neighborhoods around Broadmoor and beyond, Northeast, East and South, were developed in a post World War II pattern of mostly two bedroom, one bath, Pueblo style tract housing. These homes are a mix of frame and concrete block construction and many were originally built with a one car attached garage. (Consumer note: Many of the garages in homes built in the 1940’s-50’s era have since been converted into inferior interior square footage – something to watch for as a home shopper.)
This site is still under development, More neighborhood information coming soon