25 Things You Should Know About Albuquerque


This city in the desert is so much more than just the home of a certain fallen chemistry teacher. Albuquerque boasts a rich history, gorgeous vistas, and an established arts scene. (If you'll recall, it's also the place where Bugs Bunny really should have taken that left.) Below, a few things you might not have known about Duke City.

1. When Coronado arrived in the area of modern Albuquerque in 1540, he found a large pueblo called Kuaua, which itself dated to around 1300 CE. Although abandoned in the late 16th century, you can visit the reconstructed ruins at the Coronado Historic Site just outside Albuquerque.

2. And if that’s not old enough for you, nearby Acoma Pueblo and Taos Pueblo each claim to be the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the modern United States, dating back to circa 1000 CE.


The city itself was founded in 1706 as “San Francisco de Alburquerque,” after the viceroy of New Spain, Don Francisco, the Duke of Alburquerque. How it became Albuquerque is unknown, but it’s probably just because no one was able to pronounce the extra r.

4. In 1995, the state legislature passed a non-binding resolution to restore the dropped r, but nothing ever came of it, and the popular New Mexican author Rudolfo Anaya has long pushed for the reinstatement of the r.

5. When the railroads came to New Mexico, a brand new town was founded in the area. Confusingly, it was also named Albuquerque, right next to the other Albuquerque. They got around this by calling one New Albuquerque and the other Old Albuquerque. Eventually, New Albuquerque consumed Old Albuquerque, but it’s still called Old Town.

6. If you go out to eat in Albuquerque (or anywhere else in New Mexico, for that matter), don’t panic when they ask you "red or green?" That's just their way of finding out whether you prefer red or green chile on your dish. If you can’t decide, order Christmas, which is a combination of the two. And yes, it’s chile, with an e. In New Mexico, chile means the hot fruit while chili refers to the meat-and-bean stew. It’s important to distinguish between chile cheese fries (red or green) and chili cheese fries.



Chile is so important to the local gastronomic scene that even Albuquerque’s McDonalds have green chile cheeseburgers on the menu.

8. And make sure that you wash that down with New Mexican beer. Albuquerque has some of the best breweries in the country, with local breweries coming first AND second in the 2015 National IPA Challenge. Just in case you think that’s a fluke, an Albuquerque brewer also won in 2014.

9. According to a 2013 study, Albuquerque is 28 percent parks—that's the “highest percentage of parkland in a metro area."

10. Albuquerque is also a tech hub. The first Bitcoin machine in the United States was installed in an Albuquerque cigar bar, although it vacated the premises months later.

11. Although most often associated with Washington, Microsoft was founded in Albuquerque in 1975. It moved to Washington in ’79. The reason they started in Albuquerque was because of the Altair 8800, a computer that many consider to have started the personal computer age. It was a kit computer developed by an Air Force second lieutenant while based at Kirtland Air Force Base that you could buy for $400; it came with 256 bytes of RAM (for comparison, an iPhone 6S has about 8 million times that).

12. In 1959, Dr. William Lovelace’s clinic in Albuquerque worked with NASA to help winnow 32 potential astronauts down to the Mercury 7, using a specially designed week of some of the most extreme laboratory tests ever attempted. 

13. Two years later, Lovelace would attempt to do the same thing with the “Woman in Space Program” where he put 19 women through the exact same examination as the men went through. 13 passed. Despite his seal of approval, NASA regulations at the time prevented any of them from going to space.

One of the oldest holiday traditions in Albuquerque (and by old, we’re talking at least 300 years) are luminarias, paper bags with votive candles in them. Old Town is famous for its display of over a thousand of these bags intended to welcome Christ to the world.

15. After reading a Spider-Man comic in which our hero has a tracking bracelet put on, local judge Jack Love felt that a similar idea might work to keep tabs on people under house arrest. Towards this end, the official helped develop an early electronic monitoring bracelet

16. The largest Native American gathering in the country is in town in late April. The Gathering of Nations draws thousands of attendees and tens of thousands of visitors.

17. The Albuquerque skyline is dominated by two geologic features. In the east are the Sandia Mountains, which rise a mile above an already mile-high city, and are so named because at dusk they look a little like sandias—that's Spanish for "watermelon." 


To the west are the Albuquerque Volcanoes. While these volcanoes are probably extinct, some geologists think that New Mexico is due another eruption in the not too distant future.

19. The Sandia Peak Tramway is one of the longest trams in the world, traveling 2.7 miles to over 10,000 feet above sea level. Anyone hoping to get more of a workout in can also hike to the top.

20. The minor league baseball team in Albuquerque, the Isotopes, got their name from an episode of The Simpsons, in which the Springfield Isotopes are set to move to the city. Not surprisingly, they’ve been one of the top teams for merchandise sales every year since.

21. Albuquerque is also home to the National Fiery Foods Show, which claims to be the largest such event in the world, attracting over 200 exhibitors a year.

22. Vivian Vance, best known as I Love Lucy’s Ethel, was one of the founders of the Albuquerque Little Theater. Other actors who have called Albuquerque home include Neil Patrick Harris, Demi Lovato, and Freddie Prinze Jr.

23. Albuquerque’s real population growth came in the early 20th century thanks to people suffering from tuberculosis coming for the dry climate. It was estimated in 1913 that 50% of the city’s population were people with tuberculosis and their relatives. To advertise how great the climate was, the forerunner to the Chamber of Commerce came up with the slogan “Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the sick get well and the well get prosperous!”


The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta started in 1972, when 10,000 people watched 13 balloons lift off from a mall parking lot. Today, the festival lasts nine days and draws a crowd of more than 800,000.

25. Albuquerque is one of the sunniest cities in America, tied for tenth with Sacramento. But unlike sunnier cities (for instance, Yuma and Las Vegas), Albuquerque gets over a hundred degrees only once or twice a year, while Yuma has over a hundred such days. But Albuquerque can get snow. The one day record was 11.3 inches in 2006.

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These Are the World's 10 Most Expensive Cities

While Americans in big cities may complain about how expensive the cost of living is, according to a new report, places like New York and Los Angeles don’t even come close to the expense of international cities like Singapore. As Travel + Leisure mentions, The Economist Intelligence Unit’s biannual report on the world’s most expensive cities has named the Asian city-state the most expensive place on Earth to live for the fifth year in a row. No U.S. city even cracks the top 10.

The Intelligence Unit’s survey tracks prices of 160 products and services in cities across the world, including food and drink, clothing, rent, utility bills, transportation, and more. It’s designed to help companies calculate cost-of-living analyses for employees traveling and living abroad, but it also just provides an intriguing snapshot into how the rest of the world lives, and just how expensive your next vacation might be. And, of course, it allows you to feel a little better about your own city. Next time you want to complain about your rising rent, New Yorkers, know that residents of Seoul have to pay 50 percent more than you for groceries.

The prices used in the calculations are converted to U.S. dollars, meaning that the whole thing is tied to how much the dollar is worth—if the euro is worth more than the dollar, you’ll need more dollars to buy things in Paris. A weakening dollar is one reason the report gives for the lack of U.S. cities in the top 10 list, even though American cities are becoming more expensive relative to past years. (New York, currently in 13th place, was in the 27th spot five years ago.)

Without further ado, and with our deepest sympathies to their denizens, here are the top 10 most expensive cities across the world:

1. Singapore
2. Paris, France
2. Zurich, Switzerland
4. Hong Kong
5. Oslo, Norway
6. Geneva, Switzerland
6. Seoul, South Korea
8. Copenhagen, Denmark
9. Tel Aviv, Israel
10. Sydney, Australia

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

19 Must-Visit Stops on Mexico City's Metro

About 5 million people ride the Mexico City subway every day—but most commuters don’t realize how much there is to do and see without ever having to go above ground. From piano stairs to a space tunnel, exploring the attractions hidden within the metro just might be the most fun you can have for 5 pesos (about $0.25 USD). These Mexico City metro stations settle the old question once and for all; it’s both the journey and the destination.


Talisman station (line 4) has a mammoth logo for a reason: Mammoth fossils were unearthed during construction of the metro, and you can see the bones—which date back to the Pleistocene—on display there.


space tunnel at La Raza station
Sharon Hahn Darlin, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

How do you make a long transfer fly by? Transform it into a walk-through space tunnel illuminated by a glow-in-the-dark night sky, the highlight of the science museum located within La Raza station (lines 3 and 5).


Viveros (line 3), a station named for the nearby nursery, is in full flower: It was recently given a jungle makeover complete with imitation palms, jaguars, and snakes to raise awareness for the preservation of southern Mexico’s Lacandon Rainforest.


Complement your day trip to the pyramids at Teotihuacan with a stop at the Pino Suarez station (lines 1 and 2), where you can see a 650-year-old pyramid dedicated to Ehecatl, the Aztec god of wind. Tens of thousands of users go through the station daily, making the pyramid one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico. (Though it's referred to as Mexico’s smallest archaeological zone, the National Institute of Anthropology and History doesn't consider it a "proper" archaeological zone "due to its size and the fact of being located in a Metro Transport System facility.")


Hidalgo (lines 2 and 3) may be the most miraculous of all of Mexico City’s metro stations: In 1997, someone (possibly a street vendor) discovered a water stain in the shape of the Virgin of Guadalupe in one of its floor tiles. The apparition attracted so many pilgrims that metro authorities eventually had to remove the tile, which is now enshrined just outside one of the exits (follow the signs for Iglesia), near the intersection of Paseo de la Reforma and Zarco. And if you happen to visit this station on the morning of the 28th of any month, you’ll be swarmed with pious commuters carrying figurines of Saint Judas Thaddeus—patron saint of delinquents and lost causes—who is venerated at the nearby San Hipolito Church.


No time to visit the vast National Museum of Anthropology? You can still catch reproductions of Mesoamerican statues at the Bellas Artes (lines 2 and 8) and Tezozomoc (line 6) stops.


miniatures on the Mexico city subway
Randal Sheppard, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Miniature maniacs shouldn’t miss the scale models of Mexico City’s main plaza at the Zocalo stop (line 2). They depict, in tiny form, the metamorphosis of the capital from the Aztec Templo Mayor to the present-day Metropolitan Cathedral. (And bonus points to anyone who can spot the cat who lives in this station.)


The music-themed Division del Norte station’s (line 3) free karaoke corner draws a crowd gathered to watch fellow riders belt out boleros and ballads on their way to work. The unassuming abuelitas laden with bags from the market always have the most impressive pipes.


piano stairs at Polanco station
Victor.Aguirre-Lopez, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Don’t take the escalators at Polanco station (line 7), because the stairs are a giant musical piano keyboard. Finally, here’s your chance to live out Tom Hanks’s piano dance scene from the movie Big.


The Guerrero stop (lines B and 3) is a tribute to the legends of lucha libre, with costume displays and murals dedicated to 45 of Mexico’s finest masked fighters.


The largest bookshop in Latin America can be found in the long passage between the Zocalo and Pino Suarez stations. The underground emporium known as Un Paseo Por Los Libros sells titles from textbooks to manga and also hosts free workshops, lectures, and movie screenings.


murals in the Mexico City subway
Thelmadatter, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Any visitor to Mexico City should check out Diego Rivera’s murals—but on your way, don’t forget to look up at the murals that decorate many metro stations. Particularly impressive are Guillermo Ceniceros’s ambitious chronicles of art through the history of time on the walls at the Copilco (line 3) and Tacubaya stations (lines 1, 7, and 9). On the kitschier side, see how many famous faces you can pick out in Jorge Flores Manjarrez’s I Spy-style mural of pop stars at the Auditorio stop (line 7).


A museum of caricatures located inside the Zapata stop (line 12) is an homage to Mexican cartooning, including plenty of satirical interpretations of the mustachioed revolutionary who gives the station its name.


If Chabacano station (lines 2, 8, and 9) feels unsettlingly familiar, it might be because it was used as a shooting location for the subway chase scene in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Total Recall. Legend has it you can still spot splashes of fake blood on the ceiling.


Museo del Metro de la Ciudad de México
ProtoplasmaKid, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Has this metro adventure turned you into a super fan? Do a deep dive at Mixcoac station’s (line 12) sleek Metro Museum, where you can learn even more fun facts about the subway’s 50 years of history while you wait out rush hour.


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