Espanola, New Mexico: Wikis


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City of Española
—  City  —
The Main Street District

Nickname(s): The Jewel of Northern New Mexico
First Capitol City in America
The Lowrider Capital of the World
Sundevil Country
Motto: Serving The Community With Pride
Location of Española, New Mexico
Coordinates: 36°0′7″N 106°3′53″W / 36.00194°N 106.06472°W / 36.00194; -106.06472Coordinates: 36°0′7″N 106°3′53″W / 36.00194°N 106.06472°W / 36.00194; -106.06472
Country United States
State New Mexico
County Rio Arriba, Santa Fe
Founded 1598[5]
Incorporated 1925
Named for See Early history
 - Type Mayor-council government
 - Mayor Joseph Maestas
 - City Council
 - State House
 - State Senate
 - U.S. House
 - City 8.5 sq mi (21.9 km2)
 - Land 8.4 sq mi (21.7 km2)
 - Water 0.1 sq mi (0.2 km2)
Population (2008)[6] [7]
 - City 9,691
 Density 1,139.6/sq mi (440.0/km2)
 Metro 184,629 (Santa Fe-Espanola CSA)
ZIP codes 87532, 87533
Area code(s) 505
FIPS code 35-25170
GNIS feature ID 928729
Website Official website

Española (IPA: /ɛspᵻnˈjoʊlə/) is a city primarily in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, in the United States. A portion of the central and eastern section of the city is in Santa Fe County. Española, incorporated in 1925, is situated in an area that Juan de Oñate declared a capital for Spain in 1598. Española is well known as the first Capital City in America[3]. At the 2000 census the city had a total population of 9,688.[6] Española is within the Santa Fe-Espanola Combined Statistical Area.




Early history

The Bond House Museum, former City Hall Building

The area now known as Española was the first European-founded capital of the "New World" (see below). In 1880, when the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (the "Chile Line") was being constructed in the area, Amado Lucero and his wife Josefita opened a restaurant to accommodate the railroad workers. The daughter of the famous Don Rafael Lopez of Santa Fe, Josefita could easily trace her roots to the earliest Spanish settlers of the region. Consequently, the railroad workers referred to the restaurant as "Española's", that is, the Spanish woman's restaurant. Soon the railroad started calling the area "Española" and the name stuck.[8] Amado, Josefita and their daughter Eliza Lucero Hill are buried at the foot of the altar inside the Church of the Holy Cross in nearby Santa Cruz. Descendants of theirs continue to reside in the Española Valley.

Española has grown to include many of the adjacent rural communities. This includes the area in which Don Juan de Oñate declared a capital for Spain in 1598 and Don Diego de Vargas' new villa at Santa Cruz. Oñate arrived in the Española Valley on July 11, 1598 at the confluence of the Chama River and the Rio Grande, where he established a camp at a place then called Yunque-Yunque. He created a Spanish settlement in an area already inhabited by the indigenous descendants of the Anasazi. The treatment of the natives was typical of the Conquistadores at that time, with enslavement and brutality being a mainstay, despite the initially warm welcome.

Recent history

The Misión Museum y Convento, a replica of the 1598 church at San Gabriel, was built in the late 1990s.

In 1998, Española celebrated the 400th Anniversary of the colonization by the Spanish and the founding of the first permanent European colony in North America. The event was celebratory for some and controversial for others; on January 5, 1998 someone cut the foot off of a sculpture of Juan de Oñate in the Oñate Monument Visitors Center. A group calling itself Brothers of Acoma claimed responsibility.[9]

Heroin use in the area increased rapidly beginning in the 1970s.[10] In the period 2001–2005, Rio Arriba County had the highest per capita rate of drug fatalities in the country, with 42.5 deaths per 100,000 population compared to 7.3 nationally.[11]

Obama in espanola .jpg

On September 18, 2008 then Sen. Barack Obama, a Democratic nominee for President of the United States, visited Española for a rally at the city's New Plaza in the Main Street district. Nearly 10,000 people packed the Plaza from around the Española Valley.[12][13] Española has a large number of Hispanics and a large majority are Democrats.[14]


Española is located at 36°0′7″N 106°3′53″W / 36.00194°N 106.06472°W / 36.00194; -106.06472 (36.001884, -106.064587).[15]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 21.9 square kilometers (8.5 square miles). 21.7 square kilometers (8.4 square miles) of it is land and 0.2 square kilometers (0.1 square miles) of it is water. The total area covered by water is 0.83%.

Española is over a mile high at an elevation of around 5,595 feet (1,705 m) with much variance. It is in a valley nestled between the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges, and the meeting point of three rivers, the Rio Grande, the Rio Chama, and the Rio Santa Cruz.

Because of Española's geographical location, it serves as the economic hub for north central New Mexico.[citation needed] The communities of Chimayo, Alcalde, Velarde, Hernandez, Truchas, Cordova, Dixon, Chama, Tierra Amarilla, La Puebla, Arroyo Seco are all in close proximity and are economically dependent on the City of Española and utilize stores, banks and restaurants. The greater Española Valley has a population of 35,500 people.


July is the warmest month in Española, the Average is 91 °F (33 °C). The highest recorded temperature was 107 °F (42 °C) in 2003. The average coolest month is January at 45 °F (7 °C). The lowest recorded temperature was −38 °F (−38.9 °C) in 1971. The maximum average precipitation occurs in August with an average of 1.90 inches (48 mm).

Climate data for Española, New Mexico
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Record high °F (°C) 67
Average high °F (°C) 45
Average low °F (°C) 14
Record low °F (°C) -38
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.40
Source: [16]


At the census[17] of 2000, there were 9,688 people, 5,751 households, and 4,569 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,155.4 people per square mile (446.4/km²). There were 5,107 housing units at an average density of 189.2/square kilometer (489.8/square mile). The racial makeup of the city was 67.55% White, 0.58% African American, 2.86% Native American, 0.14% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 25.56% from other races, and 3.25% from two or more races. 84.38% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 5,751 households, of which 35.6% had children under the age of eighteen living with them, 42.5% were married couples living together, 18.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.5% were non-families. 26.2% of all households were made up of single individuals, and 9.7% had someone living alone who was sixty-five years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the city the population was spread out, with 27.8% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 12.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was thirty-four years. For every 100 females there were 95.3 males. For every 100 females aged eighteen and over, there were 94.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,144, and the median income for a family was $32,255. Males had a median income of $25,558 versus $23,177 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,303. 21.6% of the population and 16.5% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 28.4% of those under the age of eighteen and 15.1% of those sixty-five and older were living below the poverty line.


An Arizona-based arts and crafts company will likely build a store in town soon; a major health food grocer is also expressing interest in building an Española store. Computer and communications firms are moving in, some planning new buildings, others starting-up in home offices. A Wal-Mart opened in 1999, creating 400+ jobs. Lowe's Home Improvement opened in 2004, adding another 300+ jobs. Many of the residents are employed at near-by Los Alamos National Laboratory as well.

At Española Industrial Park, Nambe Mills (relocated from Santa Fe in what will be a multi-phase move of their entire silver working operation) is in the forefront of an industrial expansion that may soon see a host of businesses taking advantage of the city's relatively low-cost industrial land.


The acequias, or irrigation ditches, set up by the Spanish helped them to prosper as an agrarian society. These life-giving lines are, in some ways, the only things that remain unchanged in Española today. While there is a tangible feeling of pride for culture and family amongst Hispanics and natives, there is an ever-increasing influence and presence of people that do not belong to either of these groups.

The prosperous agrarian society of the natives and the Spanish was replaced by a money-based system with the introduction of the railroad. As is typical throughout history, this disadvantaged many locals. They were forced to adopt a system for which they lacked the education. Many continued to farm, and their families still do today; however, they were taught to farm to sell rather than to sustain, and so were also disadvantaged. With poverty and gentrification came fewer resources for the community.

Largest employers

  • Los Alamos National Labs
  • New Mexico State Government
  • The Gas Company of New Mexico (Formerly PNM)
  • San Juan Mining & Mineral Plant
  • Española Valley Regional Medical Center
  • Jemez Valley Electric Company
  • Española Valley Transit-Mix
  • San Juan and Santa Clara Pueblo Gaming
  • City Government
  • Wal-Mart

Arts and culture

Immigrant culture

There has been a steady influx of documented immigration to the Valley for the last decade, which has significantly increased their visibility and influence in the area. Española (especially the neighboring community of Sombrillo) is also home to the largest community of ethnically diverse Sikhs in the world. While most Sikhs descend from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan, the Sikhs in Española come from all over the world.[18]


Some time after lowriding had appeared in Española in the early 1950s, the city had dubbed itself "Lowrider Capital of the World". It was only by 1993 that MTV had broadcast that title to the rest of the world.[4] Many lowriders are seen on Good Friday. Many people take out their cars to go cruising around Española and nearby Chimayo late into the night.[citation needed]


Española's restaurants and convenience stores are popular with travelers between Santa Fe and northern communities, as well as with local people. The local fiestas are held in the summer and include live New Mexican-style Spanish or country music, vendors, and many locals. Every Friday and Saturday night the streets fill with cruisers.

There are many locations near Española to do almost any outdoor activity such as hiking, biking, and river sports like rafting and kayaking. Nearby winter sports include skiing (downhill and cross-country) and snowboarding.

Parks and recreation

Richard Lucero Center

Community aquatic centers

  • Penny Roybal Garcia Aquatic Center
  • Richard R. Lucero Center, located at 313 Paseo de Oñate, houses a swimming pool, gymnasium (used primarily for basketball), and a weight room, as well as the Española Public Library.[19] The pool ranges from 4 to 12 feet (1.2 to 3.7 m) deep and contains a place for lap swimming.[citation needed]

Community parks

  • Mainstreet Park & Plaza
  • Ranchitos Park
  • Valdez Memorial Park
  • Senior Veteran Memorial Park


The city of Española is served by an elected four-year term mayor and an eight-member city council. The Española City Council is the legislative authority of the city, and has the power to adopt all ordinances, resolutions, or other legislation. The council members are elected from the eight council districts on four-year terms, with four districted Councilors elected every two years. One of the council members is elected by the members of the council to be the mayor pro tempore. The mayor can approve or veto any decision made by the council. However, the council can override the mayor's veto with a five out of eight member vote.[20]


Elementary schools

Middle schools

High schools


Public community libraries

Española Public Library is located inside the Richard Lucero Center at 313 North Paseo De Oñate. Its collection is about 50,000 items.[25] The 2008–2009 library budget is $248,735.[26]:64–65


  1. ^ "City of Española Home Page". City of Española. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  2. ^ "New Mexico Tourism - Regions". New Mexico Tourism Department. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  3. ^ a b "First Capitol City in America". COE. 2008-09-30. 
  4. ^ a b Penland, Paige R.; Adán V. Baca (2003). Lowrider. MotorBooks/MBI Publishing Company. ISBN 076031599X. 
  5. ^ "About Española, New Mexico". Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  6. ^ a b "Table 4: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in New Mexico, Listed Alphabetically: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008 (SUB-EST2008-04-35)" (CSV). US Census Bureau, Population Division. 2009-07-01. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  7. ^ "Table 2. Annual Estimates of the Population of Combined Statistical Areas: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008 (CBSA-EST2008-02)" (CSV). United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2009-03-19. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  8. ^ Rio Grande Sun, Historical Issue on City of Española, 1961–62
  9. ^ Roberts, David, The Pueblo Revolt: The Secret Rebellion that Drove the Spanish out of the Southwest,Simon and Schuster, New York, 2004, p. 97
  10. ^ Glendinning, Chellis, Chiva: A Village Takes on the Global Heroin Trade, New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, B.C., Canada, 2005
  11. ^ Eckholm, Erik (2008-04-02). "A Grim Tradition, and a Long Struggle to End It". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  12. ^ "Obama Visits Española". KOAT 7 News. September 18, 2008. 
  13. ^ "Obama Rally In Española". Santa Fe New Mexican. September 18, 2008. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  16. ^ "Monthly Averages for Española, NM". Retrieved August 20 2008. 
  17. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  18. ^ "American Sikhs Run Billion-Dollar Security Firm". NPR. Retrieved 16 June 2009. 
  19. ^ "City of Española Recreation Division". City of Española. Retrieved 30 December 2008. 
  20. ^ "Española Government". COE. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  21. ^ "EMA Admissions". Española Military Academy. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  22. ^ "KSL donates laptops to Española Military Academy". Los Alamos National Laboratory. 2004-12-08. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  23. ^ "Total Student Enrollment by District and Location for School Year 2007-2008" (PDF). New Mexico Public Education Department. 2008-04-16. Retrieved 3 January 2009. 
  24. ^ New Mexico Public Education Department (2008-12-12). "Four Charter Schools Have Charters Renewed By the Public Education Commission". Press release. Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  25. ^ "Welcome to the Española Public Library". City of Española. Retrieved 30 December 2008. 
  26. ^ (PDF) City of Espanola 2008–2009 Fiscal Year Budget. City of Espanola. 2008-09-23. 

External links


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