Walk # 1 begins and ends near the intersection of 12th Street and Mountain Road and features the art and architecture on or near Mountain Road. The walk will take you through some of Albuquerque’s oldest and nicest neighborhoods near Downtown. Along the way you’ll see wonderful artwork, interesting streets, and the best of neighborhood living.
Although the narrative of this walk begins near the intersection of 12th Street and Mountain, you can join this walk anywhere along the route and make as many detours as you wish. The described walk is around 2.7 miles long. Your variations can make this walk longer or shorter. Our actual starting pointing will be one street to the west of 12th at the corner of Brother Mathias (13th Street) and Mountain. The numbers on the map correspond to the sequence of the narrative.
If you’re following the narrative on your mobile device, you might want to print the map beforehand as a reference. The narrative does provide turn-by-turn instructions.
If you look west, you’ll see that Villa Mathias occupies the entire block south of Mountain. It is a religious community and residency for the Brothers of St. John of God who run the Good Shepherd Homeless Center at 2nd and Iron Streets south of Downtown. Brother Mathias Barrett founded Good Shepherd in 1951 and is buried at Villa Mathias.
On the north side of Mountain and a bit to the west, you’ll see a house set back from a wire fence with a large parking area. It is an eclectic gift shop – Next Best Thing to Being There.
Looking to the east, you’ll be staring right into a huge pair of eyes staring back at you painted on the west wall of the Alma Mosaic Collective studio. You can see some of studio’s mosaic work on the wall facing Mountain. Their mosaics decorate many buildings throughout Albuquerque.
On the east side of the same building is Little Bird de Papel art studio. Its mural of birds covers three walls. The mural is only a year old and is already a classic. The mural alone is worth a special trip the neighborhood to check out.
A few feet to the east and very close to 12th Street is another amazing mural. This one is of a skull and the letters A Z U L. It’s at the south end of the parking area of the popular Cocina Azul restaurant (across the street on the east side of 12th) that serves excellent New Mexican food. The Cocina Azul building was originally a grocery store.
As we start heading east on Mountain, check out the banners hanging from the lampposts. You’ll be seeing them all the way to 5th Street. They portray some of the history of the area. As for history, this portion of Mountain Road was the original route from Old Town to the mountains. And one hundred years ago, 12th Street was the gateway to the sawmill complex a half-mile to the north. At that time, the sawmill and the rail yards in Barelas were the two big employers in Albuquerque. There was even a trolley car on 12th Street to bring workers to the Sawmill. One of the banners up ahead features a trolley car. (For more information on the banners, please visit: www.friendsofmountainroad.com .)
On the NE corner of the intersection is the New Mexico Tea Company. If you’re looking for selection, you’ve come to the right place. Immediately to the east of the tea company is Golden Crown Panderia. It’s both a bakery and restaurant that is famous for its Green Chile Bread. Its outdoor patio is a favorite hang-out place during non-pandemic years.
Across the street from Golden Crown on the south side of Mountain is the Urban Mountain building. Ricochet Gallery on the east side of the building is a brand new art gallery that opened in March of this year. When you reach Ricochet Gallery, we’ll turn right and head south on 11th street.
11th Street has a bit of jog to the right before resuming its route south. Very soon you’ll run into Manzano Court on the east side of the street. The small collection of houses with a parkway in the middle of the street was built in the early 1920s and is now a designated historic landmark.
Orchard Place is just to the south. We’ll hang a left and take Orchard Place east. While on Orchard, you might want to check out 1021 Orchard on the north side of the street, the house without a sidewalk. It was once the home of Erna Fergusson. She was an author and quite accomplished when she lived in the neighborhood almost a century ago. The library on San Mateo Boulevard is named after her.
After a quick jog, we’ll soon be at Forrester Avenue to head back north. Forrester is a very special street with many wonderful homes. Forrester is also the non-pandemic place to go for Halloween. Its famous Halloween Trick or Treat block party attracts people from all over Albuquerque. If you’re a Breaking Bad aficionado, you may recognize the house at 1011 Forrester on the west side of the street. It’s where Todd shot Andrea to punish Jesse for trying to run away.
Very soon, we’ll be back to Mountain Road. Slow Burn Coffee on the NE corner opened last October in an old commercial building that has had stints as a grocery store, performance space, antique shop, and architect’s studio. As you can see by the people hanging out, Slow Burn has been an instant hit!
From here, we’ll turn east on Mountain. Before reaching 8th Street, we’ll run into the Julianna Kirwin Art Studio on the north side of the street. Julianna is the originator of the art banners on Mountain Road. Her studio is open to the public on Saturday afternoons. Her adjacent house on the NW corner of Mountain and 8th was once a grocery store. As you can see, there were plenty of places to buy groceries within walking distance when people had to get around by foot.
The building on the SE corner of 8th and Mountain was built as a gas station. In recent years, it has had many incarnations as a small coffee shop and restaurant. The building was recently sold and we’ll soon find out what its next incarnation will be.
If you look around at the houses close to the intersection, you’ll see that many of them have been recently rejuvenated. Most of that work was done by Stephan Watson of Santa Fe Tile fame. Many of the rejuvenated homes feature one of Stephan’s decorative tiles.
If you’re looking for a detour, you can venture north on 8th Street. You’ll pass many nice and very unique homes and eventually run into a whimsical lighted display that changes with the seasons on the east side of 8th just north of the next street (Summer Avenue). As an extra bonus, there is even a sign giving Bedouins the right of way on Summer Avenue.
As we continue east on Mountain we’ll pass a couple of more businesses along the way and run into Vinny’s Barber Shop at the NW corner of 7th and Mountain. Check out the hand carved wooden barber shop pole. I don’t think you’ll find anything like it anywhere else.
Just a bit further east at the SE corner of 7th and Mountain is the Harwood Art Center. A one-time girls school, it now houses an art center and a Montessori school. Feel free to take some time to walk around the grounds to check out the art work. And make sure you get a close look at the mosaic covered benches as they have a poem inscribed into them.
After wandering around Harwood, we’ll continue east on Mountain. The next street on the north side of Mountain will be Los Tomases Drive. At one time it was named Virginia Boulevard. If you venture two streets north on Los Tomases to Kinley Avenue, you’ll see the name Virginia Boulevard embossed in the sidewalk. You’ll also see that Kinley Avenue used to be named McKinley Avenue.
As for our walk, we’ll continue east on Mountain and cross 6th Street. Wells Park is on the north side of Mountain between 6th and 5th Street. We’ll turn right at 5th Street and go one block south to Granite Avenue. Before heading south, take some time to check out the front yard of the house at the SW corner of 5th and Mountain. It has great sculptures and other creative artwork.
18. and 19.
If you’re hungry, the new location of Monroe’s Restaurant is just up ahead at the SW corner of 4th and Mountain. The popular New Mexican restaurant moved from its long time location on Lomas Boulevard to its new location just a few months before the pandemic began. Unfortunately, its iconic heart shaped sign did not make the move to the new location.
If you’re curious, there are two murals in the alley between Mountain and Granite on the east side of 5th. When you reach Granite, we’ll want to turn east. At 419 Granite, on the north side of the street, there is a very interesting art exhibit on the front fence. If you look through the openings, there is even more art work inside. The address is identified as The Land / An Art Site. There’s bound to be more artwork inside, and you might want to knock on the door to see if it is open for viewing.
The house immediately to the east of 419 Granite has a wonderful wooden fence that looks like it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Across the street and closer to 4th is another one of the amazing murals along our walk.
On the east side of 4th just south of Granite is the architecturally interesting Anthea building. It began as an extended stay residential hotel and is being converted to rental apartments. We’ll turn right and head south on 4th Street. The next cross street will be Marble.
The Madonna of the Trail statue is at the SE corner of 4th and Marble. It was originally located a block to the south but was moved to make room for the new Domenici Courthouse. The statue was dedicated in 1928 and is one of several that were erected across the country to celebrate the contribution of pioneer women. The statues were sponsored by the National Old Trails Road Association and the Daughters of the American Revolution. The Road Association’s president at that time was a Judge from Independence, Missouri named Harry S. Truman. The future President of the United States attended the 1928 dedication in Albuquerque.
After checking out the Madonna statue, we’ll move south to check out the plaza in front of the Domenici Courthouse. You’ll find plenty of travertine surprises. You’ll also find art work and other items that will catch your attention in front of the other courthouses.
After the courthouses, we’ll cross Lomas and continue south on 4th Street to Roma Avenue (the second street south of Lomas). At Roma we’ll make a right hand turn and head west. If you’re making this walk on a weekend, you’ll find this part of downtown Albuquerque to be very quiet.
As we walk west on Roma, we’ll pass Lew Wallace Elementary School right after crossing 6th Street. Lew Wallace was a Civil War general, a Territorial Governor of New Mexico, and the author of the book Ben Hur. Beginning at 7th Street, Roma becomes one of the nicest residential streets in all of Albuquerque. If you look at the sidewalk you’ll see metal medallions embedded in the sidewalk identifying Roma as part of the City’s official Downtown / Old Town Walking Route.
We’ll follow Roma for two more cross streets to Keleher Avenue and then turn north to go up to the next street – Fruit Avenue. Before turning on Keleher, you might want to check out the front yard and parkway of the house at the NW corner of Roma and Keleher. It has a great mailbox sculpture and wonderful landscaping.
When we reach Fruit Avenue, we’ll head west. This block is amazing as every house has a sculpture in parkway in front of their house. The sculptures are the work of Joe Sackett, an artist who happens to live on the block. Who knows, if he keeps up the great work, there maybe sculptures spilling over to other nearby blocks.
27. and 28.
When we reach Luna, our walking route continues west on Fruit all the way to 12th Street. If you want to extend your walk, both Luna Boulevard and 11th Street are extraordinarily nice streets to explore. 11th Street has been a stand-in for Omaha, Nebraska in Better Call Saul. And if you’re a fan of Breaking Bad you’ll want to walk down to the NW corner of 11th Street and Roma. That’s Jesse Pinkman’s parents house! While at the corner of 11th and Roma, you might want to check out the house across the street at the SW corner of 11th and Roma as it has some very nice Prairie School architectural touches.
If you wish, you can continue walking west on Roma. You’ll pass many nice houses and soon reach Mary Fox Park (a small neighborhood park) one street beyond 12th Street. For our walk route, we’ll be heading north on 12th Street to get back to our starting point. If you choose to do some additional exploring, it’s best to cross Lomas Boulevard at 12th Street as there are traffic lights with walk signals at that intersection.
If you are curious about the houses in the area, the Downtown Neighborhoods Association has published, Historic Houses in the DNA. You can download a free PDF copy from the City’s website: https://documents.cabq.gov/planning/landmarks-urban-conservation-commission/Historic%20Houses%20in%20the%20DNA.pdf
We’ll wrap up our walk by heading back to our starting point near the intersection of 12th and Mountain. Feel free to take a side street with less traffic than 12th Street. If you’re walking on a Saturday morning, you might want to look behind the old commercial building at the NW corner of 12th and Granite. There you’ll see people dropping off and picking up Little Green Buckets for composting food waste. It’s a great service for those who don’t have a place to compost at home and don’t want to send their food waste to the landfill.
With this our walk is done. I hope you have enjoyed your walk around our part of the city and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me (David Ryan) at email@example.com .
Thank you so much for coming,