The Nob Hill Business District:
A unique & compact village set in the middle of an urban metropolis.
Nob Hill is the heart of the MetroABQ. Hip & attractive, it’s one of Albuquerque’s most vibrant shopping & dining destinations. Starting along Central Avenue at the University of New Mexico (UNM) & heading eastward, the mile-long expanse is an iconic section of the historic Route 66 Mother Road. Along the Central Avenue Corridor, & in small commercial side-street hamlets north & south, are hundreds of eclectic, mostly locally-owned businesses.
The variety of offerings is a huge draw: Mexican imports, handcrafted furniture, jewelry stores, galleries, salons, massage & tattoo shops, dispensaries, CBD & smoke shops, & an herb store. There are theaters & performance spaces, a seven-days-a-week ‘eclectic cinema’, a board gaming guild/café, a zombie comic book store, costume shops & a pop-up toy store; a music shop, guitar store, organic bookstore, bike shops, new & used clothing, shoe repair, plus all manner of professional offices.
Dozens of notable fine dining & casual restaurants & cafés live in Nob Hill as well: classic New Mexican & Mexican fare, Latin American, Colombian, Spanish, Greek, Irish, French, Korean, Thai food, cevicherias & sushi, phô soup & noodle houses, wood oven pizza, & other comfort food joints. Plus numerous breweries, pubs, coffee & tea houses, ice creameries & dessert shops, & a chocolate bar, along with bakeries, an artisan bread shop, & an organic grocery store.
For architecture fans, the business route offers excellent selections of Post-Modern, Mid-Century Modern, Streamline Moderne, Territorial Revival & Spanish Pueblo Revival architectural styles, set amid bursts of neon signs that announce the buildings along the way.
The Nob Hill Shopping Center, at the corner of Carlisle Blvd & Central Ave, was hailed as the first modern suburban shopping center in NM. The active center anchors the Nob Hill business district & is the center of the eight distinct Nob Hill Neighborhoods that all stretch outward north & south from Central Ave.
A lot has been written about Nob Hill, specifically about the architecture & the very walk-able neighborhoods & business districts.
For the historian in you, Spencer Nelson’s Historic Nob Hill is a fantastic place to start. The Nob Hill Neighborhood Association is also very informative, & their bi-annual newsletter wraps up the neighborhood well. VisitAlbuquerque.com takes you to the Nob Hill festivals, shops & overviews of the neighborhood. And Nob Hill Main Street fills in more of the cool details. A great Mid-Century Modern-focused publication, Modern Albuquerque often & prominently features Nob Hill properties. Not to be confused, Albuquerque Modernism, a study from the University of New Mexico, provides all you wanted to know about the Metro's Mid-Century Modern past. As the MetroABQ is the Fractal Capital of the World, of course Nob Hill is home to the International Fractal Foundation...now you know.
As a fabulous place to gather, the historic Central Ave/Route 66 Mother Road corridor enjoys numerous festivals & parades along it’s business district streets. To name a few…The PRIDE Parade is the largest parade in the state & usually begins on the UNM Main Campus. From there it heads first along Central Ave/Route 66 through the Nob Hill Neighborhoods, to the State Fair Grounds in the International District.
SummerFest is the annual Nob Hill summer party-in-the-streets. Bandstands & stages anchor each side of Nob Hill along Central Ave/Route 66, venders provide food & stuff, & there’s even a safe children’s play area away from the meandering crowds. Earth Day is centered around the local organic food Coop (almost) every year late in April, taking over Silver Ave & Amherst St.
In the late fall & winter, the Nob Hill Neighborhoods enjoy parades in the cool nights: The Twinkle Light Parade encourages folks to decorate with many varied & colorful holiday lights, strung on vehicle floats in every conceivable spot. The parade is comprised of local business, organizations, schools, families & community groups, & all are competing for Best in Show. It’s always inevitably a boisterously bright & colorful night…Shop & Stroll is another neighborhood tradition just before the Christmas Holiday, with Tiffany Windows always on display. Depending on the weather, there can be several thousand folks shopping & strolling, or several hundred…
Nob Hill is also a popular destination spot for random gatherings, like the Mayor cutting a ribbon, or an art show Pop-Up, which can occasionally take over an empty storefront for a night or two…
The Nob Hill Neighborhoods provide wonderful spaces for murals. MuralFest is a local group that organizes (almost) yearly festivals over several weeks, as participants create their masterpieces. The website Los Muros de Burque puts it all together in the city—I count at least 12 murals in Nob Hill from their list, however, walk & you’ll find many more. Some Nob Hill murals…
Notable architecture along the business district include:
*The Nob Hill Shopping Center, designed by architect Louis Hesselden, is a great Streamline Moderne style, with rounded corners, decorative towers, white stucco walls & horizontal bands of terra cotta tile & brick; the brick copings give it a hint of Territorial Revival style.
*The former Jones Motor Company, currently Kelly’s Brewpub, is on the Historic Register & is a rare example of the Streamline Moderne architectural style.
*The Monte Vista Fire Station (1935) is a Spanish-Pueblo Revival style building functionally used originally as a fire station; it is currently a restaurant.
*Immanuel Presbyterian Church on Carlisle Blvd, designed by architect John Gaw Meem in his classic Territorial Revival style.
*Loyola’s Restaurant is a unique Mid-Century Modern style coffee shop, built in the late 1950’s. With a folded eave sunscreen, it would not be out of place in Southern California.
*The De Anza Motor Court was built in 1939 as a high-end lodging venue for folks traveling along the Route 66 Mother Road. Currently updated & re-imagined, it still includes a private basement banquet room featuring two oil based, polychrome 20’ x 4’ Shalako murals on plaster, by Zuni artist Tony Edaakie, Sr.