A city at the end of the world by Vincent Barrett Price

By Vincent Barrett Price

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It is in response to this ongoing compromise of urban identity and sense of place that this book is written. Its conceptual framework consists of three interlocking perceptions that honor the value of locality. First, cities are both built environments and the natural environments in which they are built. Cities are part of a natural ecology, just as human nature and nonhuman nature are parts of a single natural order. Second, cities constitute a socio-ecological art form that consists of design, commerce, public policy, and the specific natural and cultural conditions of the place they both inhabit and help create.

It still does. But it's a hard town, too. It's made hostile by shifting cultural and political fault lines. And it often feels cold with loneliness. Many people escape to Albuquerque and, at the same time, want to escape from it. They leave their old lives behind and seek refuge in Albuquerque's isolation. But the city itself soon gets to them and they either come to hate it or find themselves looking beyond the city, to the high desert wilderness, for their solace. Albuquerque is an acquired taste.

Its citizens and leaders don't know if they want it to be an American city, virtually interchangeable with dozens of other Sunbelt boomtowns, or a New Mexican city true to its climate, landscape, and local culture. And as a result of this confusion, the outside world isn't sure if Albuquerque is a cartoonist's gold mine, an incongruous wide spot in the road, or a big-city cousin of Santa Fe and Taos. It wasn't always this way. When I came to Albuquerque in the late 1950s, one of the first things I noticed was that most people I met were fiercely proud of being New Mexicans, native or otherwise, and utterly delighted not to be living anywhere else.

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