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Canyon Road

Neighborhood: Eastside

The early Spaniards felt drawn to the Canyon Road area by the Santa Fe River bottom, which offered irrigable land for their crops and pasturage for their flocks; by a centuries-old Pueblo Indian trail, which provided a convenient passageway for mule trains and ox-drawn carretas; and by the communityís nearby main plaza and governmental offices, which offered protection from Indian attacks.

They established Canyon Road, only about three quarters of a mile in length, from the most humble of beginningsó a prehistoric path of dirt and tiny houses of mud; but they imbued it with an enduring quality of style, character and charm.

Today, on Canyon Road, zoned strictly for "residential arts and crafts," you will find Spanish colonial, Spanish/Pueblo and American territorial architecture which has been burnished and mellowed by the passage of the years. You will discover more than five dozen galleries with paintings, sculpture, Native American crafts, traditional Spanish crafts, Santa Fe fashion, mixed media, photography and antiques literally spilling out of the doors and windows. You will find world class food and service laced with the rhythms of Spanish classical guitar, flamenco, blues and jazz. You can find a quiet bar enfolded by adobe walls with a warm fireplace on a cold winter night and have a good heavy red Spanish wine and a long conversation.

Should you choose to walk the length of Canyon Road, with its one-story common-walled structures and narrow sidewalks, you can see that it has historic roots in ancient village streets of Mexico, Spain and Moorish Africa. Through an open gate, you get a glimpse of a courtyard or a garden which once served as a center for family and social life and as a sanctuary against outside invaders. You get a glimpse of exquisite Spanish or territorial architectural features which helped satisfy a yearning for beauty. You discover little passageways and alleys which convey a sense of mystery and sometimes surprise with a garden of sculpture and blooming roses. -Jay W. Sharp