Downtown Historical Buildings Walking Tour (Self Guided), Albuquerque

The one-of-a-kind character of Albuquerque is the result of many different forces and centuries of history that have shaped the city. The core of Central Albuquerque is what most of the locals considered “downtown” – a place they lived, worked, shopped, governed and entertained themselves in for almost 80 years, since the arrival of the railroad in 1880.

The vibrant architectural tapestry of Downtown Albuquerque duly reflects the historical patterns of these activities, and is manifested in the variety of banks, hotels, federal and entertainment facilities, and more. Many of these buildings are listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.

Kimo Theater – the extravagant landmark opened in 1927, whose name means "king of its kind". The Art Deco-Pueblo Revival Style architecture reflects motifs from the popular attractions of New Mexico's indigenous peoples and natural wonders.

The Old Post Office – built in 1908, is the oldest surviving federal building in Albuquerque, featuring Spanish Colonial Revival-style. Occidental Life Building – unique in the U.S., and one of Albuquerque's best-known and best-loved monuments. First National Bank Building – a historic nine-story edifice completed in 1923; the city's first skyscraper and tallest building until 1954.

Sunshine Building – a historic six-story property, one of Albuquerque's first skyscrapers; opened with much fanfare on May 1, 1924. Alvarado Transportation Center (Former Santa Fe Depot) – built in 1902, is a live reminder of the glory days of rail traffic through Albuquerque. Dignitaries such as Theodore Roosevelt and Clark Gable passed through it along with thousands of others en route to the West Coast.

If you wish to learn more about these and other well-known historic landmarks in Downtown Albuquerque, follow this self-guided walking tour.
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Downtown Historical Buildings Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Downtown Historical Buildings Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Albuquerque (See other walking tours in Albuquerque)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Kimo Theater
  • Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
  • Old Post Office of Albuquerque
  • Occidental Life Building
  • First National Bank Building
  • Hotel Andaluz
  • Sunshine Building
  • Alvarado Transportation Center (Former Santa Fe Depot)
  • Old Albuquerque High School
Kimo Theater

1) Kimo Theater

The KiMo Theater is probably the city's best-known landmark. It was built in 1927 in the extravagant Art Deco-Pueblo Revival Style architecture. The KiMo was conceived by entrepreneur Oreste Bachechi and designed for him by Carl Boller of the Boller Brothers architecture firm, who conducted an extensive investigation into the cultures and building styles of the Southwest before submitting his design.

The theater is a three-story stucco building with the stepped massing characteristic of native pueblo architecture, as well as the recessed spandrels and strong vertical thrust of Art Deco skyscrapers. Both the exterior and interior of the building incorporate a variety of indigenous motifs, like the row of terra cotta shields above the third-floor windows. The KiMo Theater is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Bobby Darnall, a six-year old boy killed when a water heater in the theater's lobby exploded in 1951.

Opening hours: Wednesday - Saturday:11 am - 8 pm

Sunday: 11 am - 3 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse

2) Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse

The Federal Building and United States Courthouse, built in 1930, is a historic landmark in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is part of the complex of federal buildings on Gold Avenue that includes the Old Post Office, Dennis Chavez Federal Building, and the Federal Building. The imposing six-story building, faced with limestone and buff-colored terra-cotta tile in a brick pattern with molded inlays, is topped with a Mediterranean-style red tile roof and a domed cupola. The cornerstone of the Federal Building lists James A. Wetmore as the architect. However, it is unlikely that Wetmore, who was the Architect of the Treasury and was not a trained architect, designed the building.

The lobby of the Federal Building contains a mural by Loren Mozley titled The Rebellion of 1680 which depicts the Pueblo Revolt. Another mural, Justice Tempered with Mercy by Emil Bisttram, adorns the wall outside the District Courtroom on the sixth floor. This historically significant courtroom originally served as the Federal Courtroom until the U.S. Court relocated to the Dennis Chavez Building in 1972. It was restored to its original appearance in 1981. The Federal Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Old Post Office of Albuquerque

3) Old Post Office of Albuquerque

The Old Post Office is the oldest surviving federal building located at the northwest corner of Fourth and Gold in downtown Albuquerque. The Spanish Colonial Revival-style building was built in 1908 under the supervision of architect James Knox Taylor. Several federal agencies were initially housed in the Post Office building but it quickly became overcrowded, necessitating the construction of the Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse next door in 1930. The post office remained in the older building until 1972.

Today the interior of the Old Post Office has been remodeled to house the Amy Biehl Charter High School. The Old Post Office was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The exterior of the original 1908 building and the 1932 addition are exposed to public view on the east, south, and west elevations. Both period exteriors consist of a limestone base, stucco finish painted brown up to the eaves, an exposed soffit with massive decorative rafter ends and a red clay tile roof. The 1908 windows and iron balconies are duplicated in the 1932 addition.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Occidental Life Building

4) Occidental Life Building

The Occidental Life Building is a historic building located in downtown Albuquerque. It is a unique example of U.S. Venetian Gothic Revival architecture, modeled after Doge's Palace in Venice. It was designed by Henry C. Trost of the El Paso architectural firm Trost & Trost, and built for the Occidental Life Insurance Company in 1917.

The building's most significant feature is the white terra cotta facade, which wraps around the south and east sides of the building with bright white terra cotta tile and decorated with elaborate floral patterns. A row of pointed arches runs along each facade below a row of quatrefoil windows. When originally built, the Occidental Life Building had an overhanging cornice and wide arcades between the arches and the building proper. After a 1934 fire gutted the building, the roofline was rebuilt to more closely resemble Doge's and the interior office space was expanded, removing the arcades. The interior was rebuilt as a two-story office building in 1981, keeping the terra cotta exterior intact.
Sight description based on wikipedia
First National Bank Building

5) First National Bank Building

The First National Bank Building is a historic building located in downtown Albuquerque. The nine-story, L-shaped building was the city's first skyscraper. Built in 1922, the First National Bank Building was designed by Trost & Trost, an El Paso architecture firm that was well known in the region. At 141 feet, it was by far the tallest building in the city until the International Style Simms Building was built in 1954.

The interior of the first floor is done almost entirely in grey streak marble, and features 28-foot-tall vault ceilings. The building was owned by First National Bank until 1999, when it was purchased by a private developer with the intent to convert it into a luxury hotel. Plans later changed, and the building was instead remodeled into a high-end condominium project called The Banque Lofts, which opened in 2006.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hotel Andaluz

6) Hotel Andaluz

Opened on June 9, 1939 as the Hilton Hotel, it was Conrad Hilton's fourth hotel and the first modern high-rise hotel in the state. Architect Anton F. Korn designed the 160-room ten-story building in the New Mexico Territorial style, with earthtone stucco, brick coping along the roofline, and southwest-style woodwork and furnishings. In 1969, after Hilton built a new hotel nearby, they sold the hotel and it became the Hotel Plaza. It was sold again in 1981 and closed.

The new owners planned to restore it as the Hotel Bradford, but the hotel sat vacant and never opened under that name. The hotel was finally renovated in 1984, with the number of rooms reduced to 114. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and reopened on August 3, 1984 as La Posada de Albuquerque.

In 2005, the hotel was purchased by Gary Goodman, whose company Goodman Realty Group is also behind the upcoming Winrock Town Center. In March 2008, the hotel underwent an extensive $30 million renovation and restoration, reopening as Hotel Andaluz on October 1, 2009. The hotel was honored with LEED Gold certification for its sustainability, and has been recognized many times over the years by Conde Nast as one of the top hotels in the U.S. southwest.

The property features Más Tapas y Vino, a Spanish-influenced "dining experience" under the helm of Executive Chef Marc Quinones. It also offers the Ibiza Urban Rooftop Lounge and an extensive live entertainment program on weekends. 6,000 square feet (560 m2) of conference facilities.

During 2019, the hotel was used as a location for scenes in the fifth series of the television drama Better Call Saul.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Sunshine Building

7) Sunshine Building

The Sunshine Building is a historic six-story building in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was built in 1924 by local theater owner Joseph Barnett and houses the Sunshine Theater as well as commercial space and offices. The Sunshine operated primarily as a movie theater until the 1980s, though it was also equipped for Vaudeville shows and other live performances. Since 1990 it has operated as a live music venue, hosting many notable acts. The building was listed on the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties in 1985 and is also an Albuquerque City Landmark.

The building was designed by the El Paso firm of Trost & Trost and is of reinforced concrete construction with a facade of yellow brick. The architectural style is Renaissance Revival. The building was known for having what was believed to be the last manually operated elevator in New Mexico.

The TV Show In Plain Sight filmed the exterior of this location, as the fictional office of the US Marshals' Witness Protection Service.

The Sunshine Theater, which occupies a significant portion of the building, operated as a movie theater from 1924 until the 1980s and has since been remodeled into a popular live music venue. The Sunshine Theater has hosted a number of notable acts such as The Strokes, Snoop Dogg, Deltron 3030, Stone Temple Pilots, The Smashing Pumpkins, Queens of the Stone Age, The Dead Weather, Arctic Monkeys, Modest Mouse, Rancid, Coheed and Cambria, Awolnation, Cannibal Corpse, Ratatat, Social Distortion, Pennywise, Hollywood Undead, Deftones, Nightwish, Melanie Martinez, Damian Marley and Deadmau5 among others.

The Sunshine Theater's set up is an open floor, a large balcony, and a bar that seats a 21 and older audience, in all they accommodate about 1,000 people. The theater is the most popular venue in the Albuquerque metro area to accommodate smaller but still notable acts, many with five or more shows in one month.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Alvarado Transportation Center (Former Santa Fe Depot)

8) Alvarado Transportation Center (Former Santa Fe Depot)

The Santa Fe Depot was a historic railroad station in Albuquerque which burned down in 1993. It was originally built by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1902 along with the neighboring Alvarado Hotel. After the hotel was razed in 1970, the depot remained in use by ATSF and then Amtrak passenger trains. The building was listed on the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties in 1981 and was designated an Albuquerque Historic Landmark.

The Santa Fe Depot was built in 1902, replacing an earlier two-story wooden building. It was part of a larger complex that also included the Alvarado Hotel, an "Indian Building" where tourists could buy southwestern curios, and various outbuildings. The depot and hotel were designed by Charles Frederick Whittlesey and built by Anson & Holman at a total cost of about $80,000.

During the early 20th century, notable people frequently passed through the station, and crowds would gather when word was received that celebrities like Amelia Earhart or Albert Einstein would be arriving.

In 1970, amid declining train traffic, the Santa Fe Railway closed and demolished the Alvarado Hotel. The depot remained in use, and was designated an Albuquerque Historic Landmark, which was intended to protect it from meeting the same fate. However, it was destroyed by a fire on January 4, 1993. In 2006 the depot was replaced by a new Amtrak and Greyhound terminal on the same site which is part of the Alvarado Transportation Center multi-modal transit facility. The replacement station features a similar design to the original, with a tiled roof, arcade, and tower.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Old Albuquerque High School

9) Old Albuquerque High School

The Old Albuquerque High School is the historic former campus of Albuquerque High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is located in the Huning Highlands neighborhood and is protected by the city as a historic landmark. The campus comprises five buildings, the oldest of which was built in 1914. After the school moved to a new location in 1974, the old buildings were left abandoned for decades before being renovated as loft apartments in the early 21st century. Old Albuquerque High was added to the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties in 1977.

The Old Albuquerque High campus comprises five buildings grouped around a central courtyard. All of the buildings were designed in the Gothic Revival style typical of early 20th-century school architecture.

Old Main is the original building, constructed in 1914. It is located on the southeast corner of the campus, facing Central Avenue. The three-story building was designed by Henry C. Trost and originally housed classrooms, a gymnasium, a library, an auditorium, and a science laboratory.

The Manual Arts Building was built in 1927 on the east side of campus, facing Arno Street. It has three stories and 27,000 square feet (2,500 m2) of floor area, and originally housed a woodshop and machine shop in addition to classrooms. It was designed by local architect George M. Williamson.

The Classroom Building (1937), Gymnasium (1938), and Library (1940) were all designed by Louis Hesselden and built with New Deal funding and Works Progress Administration labor. The Gymnasium, which sits at the north end of the campus, is the largest building with 68,000 square feet (6,300 m2) of floor area. The Classroom Building and the Library face Broadway on the west side of campus.

n 1974, Albuquerque High School moved to a new location about one mile (1.6 km) to the north, leaving the old campus vacant. The city eventually settled on a plan to convert the buildings into loft apartments in a joint venture with a private developer, and work began in 2001. The renovation preserved many interior details such as doors, handrails, and even blackboards. The gymnasium and library reading room are protected spaces and have also been preserved.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Create Your Own Walk in Albuquerque

Create Your Own Walk in Albuquerque

Creating your own self-guided walk in Albuquerque is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
University of New Mexico Walking Tour

University of New Mexico Walking Tour

Founded in 1889, The University of New Mexico (UNM) is a public research university in New Mexico. Its main campus is located in Albuquerque and it has branch campuses in Gallup, Los Alamos, Rio Rancho, Taos, and Los Lunas. This self-guided walking tour takes you to see the main attractions and university facilities on its Albuquerque campus.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Albuquerque Old Town Walk

Albuquerque Old Town Walk

Albuquerque has a history that dates as far back as 12,000 years ago. The presence of Paleo-Indians are evident in Sandia Cave. Over the years, the people who lived in the region began to farm and build pueblos for their homes. European settlers arrived the area in the 16th century.

The city of Albuquerque was officially established in 1706. New Mexico Governer Francisco Cuervo y Valdés named...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles