SANTA FE'S STREET NAMES
Articles by Marc Simmons
world of history can hide in the names of city streets. That's certainly
the case with Santa Fe. But many residents use the street names
daily with never a thought as to their origins.
suppose that Palace Avenue is the oldest and most historic street
in Santa Fe. After all, it is named for El Palacio, the colonial
residence of the Spanish royal governors. But that honor probably
belongs to what is now San Francisco Street. Originally it bore
the name Calle Real (Royal Street) and was in effect the tag end
of Camino Real (Royal Road) that began in Mexico City.
old Camino Real (today's Agua Fria Street) turned in front of the
Santuario de Guadalupe, forded the Santa Fe River and narrowed to
become the Calle Real leading to the Santa Fe Plaza.
independence in 1821, the new national government of Mexico abolished
use of the term Camino Real (because it referred to the rejected
monarch) and ordered substitution of Camino Nacional. Oldtime Santa
Feans, however, stayed with custom and kept using Camino Real into
the early 20th century.
Anglos had introduced Agua Fria (Cold Water) Street, the name taken
from the small community just south of Santa Fe. And the Calle Real
had been transformed into San Francisco Street, in honor of Santa
Fe's patron, St. Francis. A movement got started about 20 years
ago to return Agua Fria Street to its historical first name, El
Camino Real. But residents and businessmen resisted the change,
and nothing was done.
same way, Galisteo Street funneled travelers onto the road going
to the colonial village of Galisteo. Leaving Santa Fe for the town
of Pecos, traffic used the street still called the Old Pecos Trail.
College Street got its designation in the 1850s, when Catholics
built St. Michael's College next to the Oldest Church in central
Santa Fe. After the school moved to a new location, the street in
the 1950s was renamed Old Santa Fe Trail.
avenues in the capital are named for past governors, including Onate
Place for New Mexico's founding father and first governor Don Juan
de Onate y Salazar. Don Diego Street honors Don Diego de Vargas,
who in 1692 began the rebuilding of New Mexico following the Pueblo
Revolt. Don Cubero Avenue commemorates his successor, Gov. Pedro
Lew Wallace (1878-1881) receives double recognition, with General
Wallace Drive and Ben Hur Drive. Authorship of the popular novel
"Ben Hur" remains Wallace's greatest claim to fame.
Avenue and Jefferson Street both honor American presidents. One
would think that Washington Avenue does the same. But a respected
source insists that it is in fact named for Col. John M. Washington,
a distant relative of the first president, who was military governor
here in the late 1840s.
too, come in for their share of names. Examples from the pueblos
include Cochiti, Tesuque, Nambe, San Juan, San Felipe and San Ildefonso.
(Watermelon) Street could be named after the Indian pueblo or the
turtleback hump of the Sandia Mountains visible to the south from
most high points in the capital. Other street names relating to
Indians are Navajo Drive, Montezuma Avenue, Kiva Road and Hopi Road.
The Southwest's most spectacular cliff dwellings are given recognition
with Mesa Verde Street.
Street downtown was once a river, or at least a rivulet known as
the Rio Chiquito. It flowed from a spring east of the cathedral
down to a point opposite the Santuario de Guadalupe, where it emptied
into the Santa Fe River.
Marc Simmons's "Coronado Land: Daily Life in Colonial New Mexico"
(University of New Mexico Press). Amazon.com
Articles by Marc Simmons