SANTA FE, 400 YEARS, 400 QUESTIONS
Commemorating the 400th Anniversary of Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1610
With its long and unusual history, its ever-evolving cultural identity, its unique architectural style, and its lauded position as a locus of the arts, Santa Fe has been the subject of many books, from scholarly studies to sleek coffee-table productions. This is a different kind of book about the City Different. Touching on topics from the epic and the extraordinary to the idiosyncratic and the commonplace, the book covers a broad swath of history, but by no means does it present a comprehensive picture of Santa Fe. It strives to be accurate, but undoubtedly much of it will be challenged—and should be.
More than four hundred years old, the old and new city of Santa Fe is still, as always, an eccentric center of exchange. The decision to commemorate the 1610 establishment of la villa real de Santa Fé with a year-plus acknowledgement of its 400-year history led to city-wide events, symposia, books, and discussions. Working with the Santa Fe 400th Commemoration Committee’s History Task Force, the Santa Fe New Mexican published a question about the city every day for 400 days. The answer appeared in the paper the next day, along with that day’s new question. Initially introduced as “trivia about Santa Fe,” these tidbits were meant to be fun as well as informative; they did not appear in chronological order, and they touched on disparate themes and topics.
This book developed from the newspaper series. It includes 400 questions relating to Santa Fe, each immediately followed by an answer and, in all but a few instances, a reference or references for further information. While many of the original questions have been revised or replaced and most of the answers and references have been expanded, the book preserves the apparently random organization of the questions and the spirit of play that comes from this approach. The History Task Force subcommittee, which helped put this book together, included Adrian Bustamante, the late Gerald T. E. Gonzáles, Rick Hendricks, Michael King, Joseph P. Sánchez, and Cordelia Thomas Snow. More about them and others who have helped with this project may be found in the acknowledgements.
In addition to the questions, answers, and references, the book contains an extensive bibliography, several study guides that may be helpful to teachers of younger students, and plentiful illustrations scattered throughout. Most of the images have captions, but some are unidentified, with the words “What Is It?” above them. Some of these images may be recognizable to readers right away, while others may be harder to place. Use your imagination, and if you want to know for sure, a key to these images appears after the questions, toward the end of the book.
How does one “use” this book? However you like. Dip into it at random, or read it from cover to cover. Whatever approach you take, we expect that it will stimulate lively discussion and debate about what makes history, including your own, and may perhaps lead you to more discoveries about our remarkable city.