About Los Duranes Neighborhood

Large_FINAL_Rio_Grande_Canoe_081114_045.JPG

Los Duranes is one of the oldest and most historic neighborhoods in Albuquerque. We are located in City Council District 2, between Rio Grande Boulevard and the Rio Grande River.

Puebloan people were farming the middle Rio Grande Valley as early as 1200 – 1300 A.D. Beginning in the 1600. Spanish colonists arrived in the valley, establishing farms and ranches in the Rio Abajo, but these early colonists were driven away with the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. The Spanish colonists returned, however, and in 1706 established a more permanent settlement, La Villa de Alburquerque.

RFIL_BIKING_008

The Villa was the administrative and trading center for this portion of the Rio Grande Valley.  La Villa de Alburquerque not only included the original settlement in what is today called “Old Town,” but also a string of outlying farms and ranches extending north. It is estimated that by the 1750’s these outlying agricultural settlements had developed distinct identities of their own. The closest to the Old Town area itself was Los Duranes, founded by the Duran family. The Spanish census in 1790 listed 120 people in 27 families residing in the plaza of Los Duranes.

acequia1

The early census also indicated that Los Duranes was not a wealthy community. These early settlers were subsistence farmers who fed themselves and their families through their agricultural activities and often bartered or traded for other necessities. Eventually,  an acequia was built to aid in the irrigation of the crops and the community established a traditional communal organization for maintenance of the ditches. Land
ownership and settlement patterns were typical of other early Hispanic agricultural
communities. Land was divided in long narrow strips called linea or long lots, which provided access to the sources of water for irrigation of the farmlands.

This traditional pattern of land ownership and the visual imprint of this early agricultural landscape are still visible in Los Duranes today. The Los Duranes ditch still snakes north and south through the community. Fields, gardens, the occasional historic farmhouse and wandering narrow roads remain as evidence of this history. The arrival of the railroad to the New Mexico Territory in 1880 brought with it changes in architectural fashion and building materials. These new influences were readily incorporated into the vernacular adobe building traditions throughout the greater Albuquerque area. By the turn of the twentieth century, pitched roofed buildings became as common as the flat roofed adobe buildings that had dominated the built landscape.

The railroad also led to the establishment of the American Lumber Company sawmill in 1903, located in today’s Sawmill neighborhood, south and east of the Los Duranes
community. The mill was within easy walking distance and provided residents new employment opportunities.

7251262330_e75da7f737_z

The establishment of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) and the draining of the Rio Grande floodplain had a significant impact on the landscape. The construction of dams, irrigation canals, drains and levees throughout the valley beginning in the 1930’s allowed for the reclamation of large tracts of land in Los Duranes that were previously subject to regular flooding and otherwise unsuitable for residential use.

ROOF GARDEN_001

A 1927 MRGCD survey and land use map illustrates that residential buildings were still very limited in the early decades of the twentieth century. Houses and agricultural buildings were clustered along the Los Duranes ditch, and along Los Luceros, Montoya, Duranes Roads and what is now Rio Grande Boulevard. There was very little development west of the Los Duranes ditch, and little physical change overall to the built environment until after World War II. Los Duranes was outside city limits until a major portion of the neighborhood was annexed in 1951. The area lacked infrastructure, therefore the FHA program-based tract development that characterized other areas
of Albuquerque was not possible.

IMG_0078

After WWII more residential development occurred as new home ownership programs became available. Despite the increase in residential construction, lots and fields were subdivided in a manner that allows one to still see the older fields and platting. Streets such as Los Luceros, Gabaldon, Montoya, Zickert and Rice bear the names of the owners of the large tracts of land. Interviews with lifetime residents of Los Duranes have spoken of life in the community in the first half of the twentieth century. Like other Catholic communities in New Mexico, life centered on religion and family as it had for generations. Holidays and sacraments were celebrated at the chapel, which at one time held the entire congregation. Traditional cultural activities such as Los Matachines continued to be a part of life in Los Duranes.

In the 1960’s, the community was divided physically by the construction of Interstate 40,  which separated Los Duranes from Old Town. The construction of the highway resulted in the destruction of fields and homes. The 1976 Los Duranes Sector Development Plan identified the community as still rural in character and lower in average income than
other parts of Albuquerque. By City standards, much of the housing was considered dilapidated and inferior. A housing rehabilitation program using Community Development funds provided grants and low interest loans to help upgrade many homes in the community. The sector plan also included goals such as maintaining the rural character and diversity of open space. The existing conventional zoning was maintained, with most of the area zoned RA-2, a low-density agricultural/ residential zone.

SANDIAS

Los Duranes has seen a steady increase in development since the 1970’s. Its semi-rural atmosphere, proximity to the Rio Grande Bosque, acequias, open fields, lush gardens and even the occasional livestock all contribute to its perception as a unique area, with multiple generations of families and many newcomers calling it home. It is a special place tucked away in the heart of the city, and residents want to preserve its character for their children and future generations to stay and live here, while also providing opportunities to increase their quality of life.

Advertisement