Visitors to Santa Fe, New Mexico, are drawn to the historic charm of the city center, including the 17th century Santa Fe Plaza. And while this southwestern gem celebrates its past, it also embraces opportunities for future growth and urban revitalization. An example of the city’s forward-thinking outlook, yet deeply rooted in tradition, is the Santa Fe Railyard, a vibrant neighborhood located half a mile south of the Plaza in the Guadalupe district.
The Railyard is a modern gathering place, community center and transportation hub that re-opened in 2008 after several years of redevelopment. It dates back to the late 19th century, when railroads first reached Santa Fe and marked the beginning of social and economic changes in the area.
As the train brought more residents and tourists to the city, businesses, hotels and new neighborhoods around the Railyard were established. Soon the site became a center of social activity for Santa Fe locals, much in the same way as the Plaza. The Railyard retained its status until the 1940’s, but began to decline after World War II, when train transportation lost much of its importance due to the growth of airlines and the highway system. It wasn’t until several decades later that the district would be revived.
In 1987, the Railyard was declared a “blighted area,” which required the city to create a redevelopment plan. Hundreds of participants, including the public, were involved in the lengthy process, and in 2002 the Railyard Master Plan was approved. The design took into consideration the history of the area, recreating its industrial look and allowing space for local businesses and organizations.
Today the Railyard is once again a dynamic neighborhood, serving Santa Fe residents and providing a number of attractions to visitors. It houses a variety of tenants, including restaurants, shops, art galleries, cultural organizations and non-profits, with more to be added as the transformation of the 50-acre site continues.
Among the amenities are:
- Railyard Park, Alameda and Plaza – pedestrian-friendly open spaces. The park, filled with plants that can resist drought, features recreational trails, picnic areas and a children’s playground. Alameda is the name given to the Railyard’s promenade, and the plaza functions as the heart of the neighborhood and is used for special events and performances.
- Santa Fe Farmers Market – first established in the late 1960’s, the market offers fresh, quality products from northern New Mexico year-round and is frequented by residents, local chefs and visitors alike. Through the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute, it also organizes special events and provides community education.
- SITE Santa Fe – a nonprofit contemporary art organization that showcases work by internationally-known artists.
- El Museo Cultural – a Hispanic art and cultural center featuring exhibits, workshops and community events.
- Warehouse 21 – a youth development center offering art, media and performing programs.
- New Mexico Rail Runner Express – a commuter rail line that connects Belen, Albuquerque and Santa Fe and operates 7 days a week.
- Santa Fe Southern Railway – a historic train offering excursions along its original route.
The Railyard is a short walk from downtown Santa Fe; a free shuttle service is also available. For details, a complete calendar of events and directory of businesses, visit Railyard Santa Fe.
[mappress mapid=”1″]Sources consulted:
The Railyard Santa Fe
The Santa Fe Railyard Community Corporation
Official Santa Fe Travel Site
Santa Fe 400th Anniversary