The History of Santa Fe, New Mexico – Part IV

Santa Fe was supposed to be a stop for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, but tracks were built in Lamy for practicality instead. A branch extension was made in 1880 going from Lamy to Santa Fe. In 1886, other railroad lines made their way into Santa Fe as well.

In 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state of the United States and Santa Fe was named after its capital. At that time, the population of Santa Fe only had about 5,000 people and the civic leaders established a thorough plan to be able to increase the population, including a City Beautiful movement. The scarce water supply made it difficult to grow, so they anticipated only limited growth.

Since most railroads bypassed Santa Fe, the population dwindled. Artists, writers, and retirees were drawn to the area however because of the landscapes, the climate, and the overall cultural richness of the region. This allowed local leaders to see what they had and began promoting Santa Fe as a tourist destination. Restoration projects were sponsored by the city and new buildings were erected using what is now known as a “Santa Fe” style. In 1919, the Santa Fe Fiesta began and in 1922, the Southwest Indian Fair, known today as the Indian Market. An art program for the summer was going to be created as well but the artists rebelled against it because it was artificial tourism that would take away from the artistic culture that had blossomed.

Santa Fe made global history during WWII when it became the home to a Japanese American internment camp, housing 826 men. By September, the internees were transferred out and it was then used to hold nationals from Germany and Italy. In 1943, detainees were transferred out and the camp was expanded to be able to hold as many as 2100 men. At the end of the war, it was closed and sold as surplus in 1946.

Today, Santa Fe, New Mexico maintains its beauty and is still rich in culture and is a tourist destination.