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Albuquerque Top Ten Best of Decade List

First Ten Years See Lots of Changes

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It's hard to imagine that ten years have passed in the new century. As we move into the New Year, I've compiled a list of some of the biggest changes I've seen in Albuquerque, a kind of top ten list. Please let me know if there is something you'd like to see included, contacting me at albuquerque@aboutguide.com

1. Downtown Rises from Ashes

The New Mexico Rail Runner opens in 2006 with service from Belen to Bernalillo, with a major stop at the Alvarado Transportation Center in downtown Albuquerque. Service to Santa Fe begins in December, 2008.

The Alvarado Transportation Center opened in 2008, serving as a hub for the city's bus lines, Amtrack, Greyhound buses, and the New Mexico Rail Runner.

Downtown, with the help of the Downtown Action Team, starts to undergo renovations for the historic buildings that survived the demolition craze of the 1960s and 1970s. Hotel Andaluz reopens in October, 2009, having undergone a green makeover.

East Downtown (EDo) thrives, the remade Albuquerque Lofts at its center. Lofts opened for sale in 2003. Nearby businesses open and flourish.

2. Extreme Makeovers

The I-25 and I-40 corridors have an extreme makeover in 2000, with work completed in 2002. In 2008, landscaping of the interchange area begins, and the new look is unmistakably better. Oversized pots resembling Native American art dot the highway and the airport. The landscaping project continues.

The Albuquerque Sports Stadium became Isotopes Park in 2003, being rebuilt from scratch.

The Sawmill Community Land Trust breaks ground in 2005 for Phase II of its Arbolera de Vida project. The master plan will redevelop 27 acres of barren inner city land into affordable housing.

25 at Jefferson and I-25, a business development, opens in 2003 and thrives.

Uptown shopping center opens in 2006, and nearby new infill housing in 2008.

3. Going Green

Institution of no burn nights, air quality controls, and a recycling program are put in place by the city.

In 2003, Albuquerque participates in a bi-partisan statement on global warming.

The San Juan-Chama water project begins in 2003.

Executive Order 19 becomes effective March, 2006. All motor vehicles purchased by the city are limited to alternative fuel vehicles.

In 2007, the Albuquerquegreen initiative takes first place at the U.S. Conference of Mayors inaugural Climate Protection Awards.

Mesa del Sol opens in 2008, attracting solar companies and green businesses. The mixed use community is 20 square miles and borders the city on its south mesa. Environmental sensitivity is at its core.

4. Albuquerque Cares More for its Animals

Through a series of legislative pushes, many spearheaded by then city councilwoman Sally Mayer, the city adopted a more proactive stance to its stray animals. The Heart ordinance took effect in October, 2006, mandating better animal treatment.

Satellite adoption site Lucky Paws opens in Coronado Center in 2008. Now there are mobile Lucky Paws sites as well.

Fetchapalooza begins in April, 2009, bringing homeless pets from around New Mexico to Albuquerque for a huge, mega adoption event.

Find some of the animal agencies that help the city's homeless animals.

5. The Stars Come Out

New Mexico becomes a hub for Hollywood. Dubbed Tamalewood, films start getting made in Albuquerque. The city opens its Film Office, with Ann Lerner at the helm.

Albuquerque Studios, a 28 acre production studio, breaks ground in 2008 at Mesa del Sol.

Television series begin to be filmed in Albuquerque, to include the award winning "Breaking Bad" in 2008, and "In Plain Sight", also in 2008.

6. Cultural Institutions

The Balloon Museum opens its doors in October, 2004 in time for the International Balloon Fiesta.

Explora Science Center moved to its permanent location at 18th and Mountain Road in December, 2003.

Newly renovated Tingley Beach opens in 2005 with three fishing ponds, hiking and biking trails, a train depot and paddle boats in the summer. A new narrow gauge railroad line shuttles visitors from Tingley Beach to the Zoo or Botanic Gardens and Aquarium.

7. People and Politics

Albuquerque is the hometown of Neil Patrick Harris, star of stage and screen.

Janet Napolitano takes the office of U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security in 2009, the first woman to do so. She grew up in Albuquerque, graduating from Sandia High School in 1975, where she was voted most likely to succeed. She still visits the local Weems Artfests and was guest of honor at its November 2009 event.

Democrat Martin Chavez takes office for the first of two terms in 2001, is re-elected in 2005 and defeated in 2009 by Richard Berry.

Pete Domenici, lion of the Republican party in New Mexico, retires after six terms in the Senate, in 2009.

8. Media Changes

The Albuquerque Tribune, the afternoon paper loved by so many, folds, in February, 2008.

The new digital information age coalesces at the online interactive community, Duke City Fix. Run by a dedicated core of volunteers, the news and information hub launches in March, 2005.

The Center for Independent Media launches the New Mexico Independent in April, 2008. It joins the ranks of several other independent papers in other states whose purpose is to strengthen progressive blogs.

Air America Radio hits the Albuquerque airwaves mid-decade, a drop in a sea of conservative AM radio waves.

9. Sports Moments

The official hometown baseball team, the Albuquerque Isotopes began in 2003. The minor league team is the Triple-A affiliate for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Pacific Coast League team was once known as the Albuquerque Dukes. From 2001 to 2003, the Dukes fed into the Portland Beavers. The Isotopes were started when the Calgary Cannons came to New Mexico.

The Thunderbirds came to town in 2006. The minor league basketball team plays its home games at Tingley Coliseum.

The New Mexico Bowl starts in 2006. The game is played the Saturday afternoon before Christmas in UNM's University Stadium. The bowl pits the Mountain West league against the Western Athletic Conference for a college football classic.

10. Albuquerque Goes Native

Over the last ten years, Albuquerque has been part of a trend that emphasizes buying, producing and eating locally. Food has become increasingly a local affair. Long standing restaurants such as the Artichoke Cafe, and newer restaurants, such as The Grove, emphasize local foods.

Grocery stores such as the La Montanita Co-op have gone so far as to establish a transportation pickup route for local growers. Large chains such as Whole Foods buy from local growers as much as possible. And the local farmer's markets have increased in number and popularity, as Albuquerque residents seek out the best tasting, freshest foods, which contain the most nutrients for health.

Less fuel for transport fits well with Albuquerque's trend toward green.

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