Chair Force Engineer

Saturday, June 30, 2007

There's Something About Santa Fe

I saw Santa Fe this past week, my first time doing so despite living in New Mexico for over two years. At this point, I don't see a compelling reason to go back, although I'd recommend that every visitor to New Mexico see it for a day.

The most maddening thing about Santa Fe is the way the city is laid out. Any attempts to drive through will be an utterly stupefying experience the first time around. Trying to drive through Santa Fe to Taos via US-285 is mind-numbing because of the maddening variety of stop lights that you will invariably catch; an interstate between Santa Fe and Taos would be ideal, in my opinion. Within the city, the streets are maddening. They meet at odd angles, many are one way streets over a certain section of the street, and many branch off at odd angles while retaining the name, or even stop and start again at disjointed locations. I guess I should cut Santa Fe some slack, as the city does date back to 1610, before modern city planning was in effect.

For a city that prides itself on being "liberal" and "tolerant," the Santa Fe motorists can be anything but. They'll pass you in no-passing zones and make angry and rude gestures at you when you're trying to navigate that most frustrating of cities.

Santa Fe is a good place if you're into art and culture; specifically, Hispanic and Native American cultures. The New Mexico Museum (a.k.a. The Palace of the Governors) was a very moving and inspiring experience. However, I had no desire to window-shop in elitist art shops all day, so I really couldn't appreciate the city for all it was worth.

There's a big difference between the philosophy of Albuquerque and Santa Fe, in my view. Albuquerque is a city that recognizes its past, but also tries to play a role in shaping the future. The housing hasn't totally conformed to the Pueblo Revival and Spanish Colonial styles like Santa Fe has. Albuquerque has brought in cutting-edge businesses; it was the place where the personal computer was born, and it is host to cutting-edge companies like Eclipse Aviation and Tesla Motors. Santa Fe, on the other hand, is a city that clings too tightly to its past. It enshrines its 400 years of history and uses them to lure in tourism, but it really isn't pushing the envelope into the future.