Monday, May 20, 2013

Santa Fe and Paris

Santa Fe and Paris

Santa Fe has a unique architectural coherence in the core of the city.  There are four or five building types and all are variations on pueblo style: adobe walls, log post-and beam structure for the roofs, the walls all shades of brown, tan, sand, with hints of cream or pink.  Window frames can be blue, turquoise or reds.  A variation called New Mexico Territorial uses brick trim along the flat roof lines and all the wooden trim elements white. The stylistic coherence of buldings in New Mexico, and especially in Santa Fe, had developed over the past one hundred years.  At the turn of the 20th century Santa Fe became more and more conscious of the adobe style that had long been unique to the region.  Nearby towns such as Taos were also chosen by the many artists and writers who were drawn to the area.  By now, 2013, Santa Fe has been carefully preserved, restored,treasured and cultivated.  Any modernizations over the last fifty years have been carefully made to fit the parameters of the dominant style.  The McDonalds uses cut stone and painted stucco and may be one of the most subdued and tasteful in the country.  Sothebys International might be the commercial sign you see the most in the inner part of town.  Housing is pricey, only the mega rich can buy into the center of town these days.  Tourism, fine dining, retirement living and the arts dominate.  It is the second largest art market in the US.  Artists must prove genetic membership in the main groups---Native Americans, Hispanic, Mexican, Spanish, and Folk artists from other backgrounds. 

The center of town houses about 35,000 people; the metro region about 140,000 more.  More than five museums, hundreds of galleries and jewelry stores, plus the Opera and symphony, ballet (partnered with Aspen), wellness enterprises of every sort, sports, golf, outdoor activities, bike paths, walking paths, skiing close-by, and lengthy legal battles now and forever about water rights.  There's not enough but you can't quite see that in the casual visit.   

There's no other city in America with this sort of stylistic integrity and uniformity.  The analogy that comes to mind is Paris.  

No comments: