Long before the United States was a country, people discovered and settled in an oasis in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, not far from the Rio Grande. Historians date Santa Fe’s establishment as a Spanish capital in 1610, but Pueblo Indian villages were established in this region centuries earlier. Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in North America and it is the site of the oldest public building in America, The Palace of the Governors. The “Anglos” (i.e., everyone else) arrived in the 1800s and ever since Santa Fe has been shaped by the confluence of various cultures.
Westward expansion, tied to the establishment of the Santa Fe Trail in the 1800s, and the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad in the 1880s heralded major change for Santa Fe. These routes paved the way for trappers, traders and a burgeoning commercial community. In addition, the early 1900s saw an influx of artists and writers who helped evolve the artistic flavor that is considered to be an inherent part of the City Different. Sant Fe gained its status as a capital city when New Mexico gained American statehood in 1912.
From early times through modern days, the Santa Fe Plaza has been a central gathering place for visitors and residents. Its proximity to historic buildings, museums, galleries, restaurants, and stores, in addition to its relaxed park atmosphere, make it a downtown “must do.” Many celebrations and events take place at the Plaza and it is especially beautiful during the winter holiday season when lights and faralitos decorate the square.
Santa Fe has evolved into a small city with cosmopolitan flair. Its unique attitude, traditions, and art continue to be influenced by new arrivals from all over the country and the world, resulting in a distinct cultural blend that is known as the Santa Fe experience.