The Nob Hill Neighborhoods:
A unique & compact village set in the middle of an urban metropolis.
Sitting east of the University of New Mexico (UNM) Main Campus, the one square mile that comprises the Nob Hill Neighborhoods is filled with interesting, historic residential & commercial architecture, quirky shops & restaurants, & is the location of many annual events, including Summerfest, ABQ Pride, Shop & Stroll, the Twinkle Light Parade & more.
The Nob Hill Neighborhoods are literally in the heart of the MetroABQ. Starting along Central Avenue at the UNM campus & heading eastward, the 15-block stretch 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, surrounded by residential homes, mostly built between 70-100 years ago.
Interesting early aerial images of the Nob Hill Neighborhoods, here & here, archived by the Center for Southwest Research Digital Collection, were taken in 1935 & another one snapped close to 1950.
The eight distinct neighborhoods that make up Nob Hill consist of almost 150 blocks, all stretching north & south away from the Central Avenue Nob Hill Business District. Platted in 1916, the majority of homes in Nob Hill were built from the 1920’s into the early 1950’s. Housing was typically constructed by small-scale local contractors who bought small lots & built homes mostly on contract, or for speculation. That created distinctive homes with a lot of unique regional character.
Two of the neighborhoods, Monte Vista & College View, were recently designated as a National Historic District—a whopping 82% of the homes in the two areas are contributing historic properties. The new historic district joins five other MetroABQ historic areas, spread out on both sides of historic Route 66. They include: Old Town, the Fourth Ward, Eighth & Forrester, Huning Highlands, Silver Hills, & now the Monte Vista & College View Historic District.
The six other neighborhoods in Nob Hill include the Broadmoor Addition, University Heights, Granada Heights, Mesa Grande, which includes Upper Nob Hill, & the Mankato/College View Business District.
Early architectural styles in the area include Bungalows, a rare Medieval/English Cottage or two, & a Tudor Revival residence. The vast majority of the homes are Spanish Pueblo Revival, Southwest Vernacular, Territorial Revival, Mediterranean, Streamlined Moderne & Ranch styles. A few Mid-Century Modern & Post-Modern homes, built in the second half of the last century, also dot the neighborhoods. Uniquely, there is a home built around a water tank in 1916, & a log cabin house, built as a prototype for a resort.
Homes have evolved since the early days of the neighborhood. As households grew, many front porches have been subsumed into the home, creating more interior living space, & back-of-the-house additions are common. Many attached garages have been turned into additional bedrooms, sometimes with an added bath; & some former detached backyard garages are now separate Casitas. Still, the majority of homes have retained much of their original character.
Vibrant & often low-water front yard gardens are replacing the traditional grassy front lawn, & large shade trees that cool the sidewalks & houses have been regularly added for decades. A stroll around the neighborhood for impromptu front yard garden design ideas is a unique neighborhood experience.
Alleys throughout Nob Hill originally provided access to garages & back yards. Although not always maintained, they have evolved into great shortcuts & quiet walkways that allow alternate views of the character of the neighborhood.
A lot has been written about Nob Hill, specifically the architecture & the very walk-able neighborhoods & business districts. Some great brochures, like re-Discover Nob Hill, the Nob Hill Neighborhood Walking Tour & Discover The Architecture of Historic Nob Hill, are hugely informative & some include walking tours. I’ve recently created a cool one-mile home tour in the Nob Hill Neighborhood of Monte Vista, called the Monte Vista Triangle Walking Tour.
For the historian in you, Spencer Nelson’s Historic Nob Hill is a fantastic place to start. A great Mid-Century Modern-focused publication, Modern Albuquerque often & prominently features Nob Hill. 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. Wikipedia also has a great list of historic places in Nob Hill. As the MetroABQ is the Fractal Capital of the World, of course Nob Hill is home to the International Fractal Foundation...now you know.
The MetroABQ Landmarks Commission has designated four properties in Nob Hill as Historic Landmarks; it’s a cool list. The Nob Hill Neighborhoods contain some of the most interesting & notable architecturally-creative homes in the MetroABQ. A brief incomplete list:
*The Water Tank House (1916, University Heights)
*The Log Cabin House (1929, University Heights)
*The Bachechi Compound (University Heights)
*Architect John Gaw Meem-designed Immanuel Presbyterian Church (1949 Mankato Addition)
*The Kelvinator House (late 1930’s, Granada Heights)
*The Pumice Rock Tudor Revival house on Monte Vista Blvd (1934, by early female architect Beulah Fleming)
*Architect Bart Prince’s distinctive Spaceship House & Studio, on Monte Vista Blvd, 1984.
*Monte Vista Elementary School (1931, Monte Vista)
*The Monte Vista & College View Historic District
*Monte Vista Triangle Walking Tour
*Nob Hill Neighborhood Walking Tour
*Annual (-ish) Nob Hill Architecture Walk