History of Santa Fe

History of Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe was established in 1608 and is the oldest capital city in the United States. Santa Fe, named Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis by the Spanish, means Holy Faith.

Before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th-century, Indian culture flourished in the area. Pueblo Ogapoge was built in 900 AD on the Santa Fe Plaza site but was abandoned by 1425. Almost 200 years later, Santa Fe expanded outward from the plaza, with the Palace of the Governors as its central building.

The Pueblo Indians regained control of the land in 1680 during The Pueblo Revolt, but authority returned to the Spanish in 1692 when the city was reclaimed by Don Diego de Vargas. In 1712, Fiesta was established to celebrate Vargas’ victory, and Santa Feans continue to uphold the Fiesta tradition every September.

New Mexico became a U.S. territory in 1850, and then was named the 47th state in 1912. In the 1920s, Santa Fe was a thriving art colony and Indian market. Los Alamos National Laboratories originated in the 1940s and since World War II has become important to the Santa Fe economy as a scientific and technological research center. The city’s economic base is primarily tourism and government, and since the 1970s Santa Fe has become a center for alternative medicine.


In Santa Fe, on average, there are 283 sunny days per year. The 7,000-foot altitude makes for a temperate climate with bright blue skies and sunshine throughout the year, mild winters and low annual rainfall. Though winters are mild, Santa Fe does experience four distinct seasons, with occasional snowfall in the winter months. The low humidity and skies free from smoke make the climate one of the most healthful in the U.S.