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To The Plaza

Okay, so last time I had us just finishing lunch at an Italian restaurant we love in Santa Fe. Next, we headed to the city itself. Our specific destination was “The Plaza,” that is, the square which forms the center of the town and is just across the way from the state capitol building.(1)

We got there and were surprised to find that it was actually open to traffic. We’d thought it might be closed so the city authorities could prep for the evening’s concert (more about which later). But, it was still open and people were moving about. So, we took a quick spin about. We didn’t want to stay long because we wanted to get to the hotel and be ready for the evening.

Though, maybe I could write a bit more about the Plaza. I suppose you could say it is to Santa Fe what Old Town is to Albuquerque...except that isn’t quite right. All of Santa Fe is Old Town.

About the photos: Today, we’ll start with our Go-To hotel, the Guadalupe Inn. Here’s an exterior and interior shot. Tell ‘em Michael Jay sent you.

Then, here’s a snap of Martha on our visit to Santa Fe in January of 2018. I think it isn’t a bad photo...and, well, it’s really hot right now, and I miss Snow.

To explain...and I think I’ve written about this before, but I’ll do it again...long ago and far away, Albuquerque and Santa Fe were competing to be the economic and cultural powerhouse of the state. It so happened that the railroads, when they finally came into the area, picked Albuquerque. There were a variety of reasons for that, not the least of them being topography. While Albuquerque is seated right next to a mountain, the area immediately around it is relatively flat, at least compared to Santa Fe. So, it was easy to lay tracks there.

Thus, Albuquerque won the battle to be the commercial heart of the state. But that left Santa Fe in possession of the capitol. It also had an intelligent and thoughtful group of business people running things. They realized that America was just then discovering a new concept -- tourism! By the early twentieth century, Americans were eager to explore the “exotic” lands of the Wild West. Ergo, by gum, the civic leaders set out to exotic-ify their city with passion.(2)

Of course, by Eastern Anglo-American standards, Santa Fe had always been a bit exotic. But, the city fathers and mothers made sure it stayed that way, and got more so. Adobe buildings were lovingly preserved, and new ones...or at least ones that looked like adobe...were built. Hotels were constructed and Mexican restaurants founded. Santa Fe became...¡Santa Fe!

And, well, that’s been sort of the case ever since. Don’t get me wrong. The city isn’t just a tourist trap. It’s found lots of other ways of making money. (Do a search for “software” and “Santa Fe” and you’ll find a surprising number of coding boutiques.) But, just the same, except maybe Taos, no city in New Mexico can claim to outdo it in terms of tourism.

Which isn’t to say that everyone is happy about it. Even in the city itself, you can hear grumbling. Local families frequently find they are being pushed out of Santa Fe as wealthy new-comers take their place. There are those who feel that there is just something unreal about Santa Fe...a sense that it is actually a theme park, now...a mediated experience unrelated to the real world.

There is a joke, told by almost all New Mexicans (including those from Santa Fe) which may best express the dissatisfactions of life in the tourist economy as it is. It goes as follows: “Albuquerque is an honest whore. While Santa Fe is a wife who cheats.”


Anyway, we took a quick swing around the Plaza. We noted a few new shops and a few that had closed. We saw that the Plaza Cafe Downtown was still in operation, which is good. It’s become our go-to place to eat on the Plaza. (3) I’ll talk more about that in bit.

Then we decided to head to the hotel. So we popped into our rental car and were on our way. A few minutes later we were at the Guadalupe Inn at 604 Agua Fria Street.(4 ) We almost always stay there when we go to Santa Fe. It is comfortable, and small, and has wonderful rooms, and is quite reasonably priced. Once again, I hesitate to tell you about it for fear that everyone in the known habitable world will show up there. And we’ll never get reservations again. Ah well. It’s a gamble I’ll just have to take. Brave of me, don’t you think? Just the kind of gutsy guy I am.

We settled in. Now, all we had to do was prepare. For, you see, what was happening next was the official (if not the only reason) we’d come all this way from Texas...

To see someone who lives less than thirty minutes away from us in Georgetown.

More to come.


1. The Plaza has its own Wikipedia page, here:

2. The New Mexico Museum of Art has an interesting piece on the growth of tourism in Santa Fe and New Mexico:

3. Plaza Cafe Downtown:

4. Guadalupe Inn

Copyright©2024 Michael Jay Tucker


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