It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a community like Santa Fe to launch an adult.
Make the move to Santa Fe and you join other émigrés, many of them adventurous optimists who have
honed their talents in other places.
It takes a village to
raise a child and it takes
a community like Santa Fe
to launch an adult.
Embrace Santa Fe and become a volunteer. Just show up and bring a good attitude along with your
experience. Opportunities for becoming involved abound with over 600 non-profits eager for bodies,
minds and money. A great deal of community effort is focused on preserving what we have and
supporting the future at the same time. The Railyard development project is a good example of
how the community works. After years of kicking around plans and preventing outsiders from leveling the historic warehouses around the train depot to make way for generic urban development, Santa Feans celebrated the opening of the community-designed new Railyard in 2008. The heartbeat of the area pulsates from the Farmer’s Market Pavillion, a hub of commerce and conversation. And did we mention transportation? The Railrunner train carries commuters and tourists between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, even as far south as Belen. Or just sit in the Railyard park and watch the trees grow – a public orchard has been planted for the picking. Taking the best of the past and listening to the needs of the present and anticipating the future- it’s an energetic community web that welcomes retirees.
To understand our community it helps to have a sense of the history that shaped contemporary Santa Fe. It is difficult to encapsulate all the influences that made Santa Fe the city we know today but a great place to start your inquiry is the New Mexico History Museum, located behind the Palace of the Governors. Santa Fe, as the historic capitol, is prominently featured in museum exhibits. Governments have come and gone but each wave of cultural infusion has left its mark on the values, art and architecture that define the City Different. As a resident of the city, you’ll want to educate yourself in the history of this remarkable place so you can share it with the many friends and family that come to visit!
The community credits the neighboring Pueblo Indians’ adobe buildings as the foundation of Santa Fe’s
different look. Spanish colonists in the 17th and 18th centuries used the same native materials. It
was a tried and true architecture that suited the climate and geography of the high desert. The simplicity
and human scale of the design, the texture and color of materials, and the soft cornered buildings set a
precedent for harmony between the high desert landscape and the manmade environment. Families and neighbors
relied upon each other. Retirement was unheard of. Land was divided among family members in narrow parcels
with access to water. The winding streets were animal paths and the irrigated fields off the Acequia Madre
grew food that fed the townspeople living near the protected capitol offices around the plaza.
The ‘pueblo’ style architecture became more embellished once New Mexico became part of United States
Territory in the mid-19th century. Manufactured building materials pored into the area on their way
west. Pitched tin roofs and door and window trim appeared along with a more rectilinear design known
as Territorial style. By the 20th century, the 3 legs of the tri-cultural history -Pueblo Indian,
Hispanic and Anglo –were evident in the architecture that distinguishes Santa Fe from other cities.
If you are looking at real estate in Santa Fe,
it helps to know these two architectural styles, as
both can be found in all ends of the housing market. Retiring to Santa Fe assures you will not be
bored by generic housing developments. A classic example of Pueblo revival style is the Museum of Art, on Palace Avenue. To see an example of 20th century Territorial building- check out the Capitol complex
just east of the round Capitol building (the Roundhouse).
Protecting the ‘look’ of Santa Fe goes on today, as it did throughout the 20th century when Historic
Design ordinances recognized Pueblo Revival and Territorial as the two accepted styles for the
historic zone. Rather than retire the past in favor of the new, the Historic Design Review Board
monitors all construction in the designated downtown historic area to see that it complies with
The Santa Fe Community Convention Center, which opened in 2008, is an example of the architectural compromise that Santa Feans reached after much public debate. Rather than go for an edgy architectural style, the City Different opted, once again, to preserve the cohesive, intimate downtown ‘Pueblo Revival’ style that has become the cities trademark. Step outside the designated historic center and you’ll see indications of other waves of influence, including contemporary architecture and even a traditional Buddhist shrine on Airport Road.
Santa Fe’s tri-cultural
roots have split into multicultural strands that include a growing community of Tibetans and East
Indians. Retire to Santa Fe and be part of the wave of expanding cultural influences. Enjoy the new
cuisine, plenty of sushi and great East Indian food, although the red and green chile ‘Christmas’
enchiladas are still Santa Fe’s claim to food fame.
As for the creative vigor of Santa Fe, for that we credit the ingenuity required to live here. Necessity
truly was and continues to be the mother of invention in Santa Fe. Living simply, due to scarcity of
resources, established an appreciation for the land that was the livelihood for early Santa Feans and
their Pueblo neighbors. When artists migrated west in the 1920’s hearing rumors about the painterly
‘light’ in Santa Fe, they reinforced the land-art-spirit story through their paintings. Living in Santa Fe makes you part of the collective myth that envelops it.
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