The cool thing about working at ABC Library’s Special Collections is making new discoveries every week. The humbling thing about working at Special Collections is learning how much more there is to learn! Every day, Special Collections grapples with the fact that living in a city isn’t the same as knowing its history.
Here are a few of our startling discoveries, some culled from our speaker series, some from helping customers make their own startling discoveries. These may be old news to you, but they blew us away:
- The rail yard buildings are so huge because building and rebuilding steam locomotives meant hoisting the locomotives into the air.
- The first water treatment plant ran from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.
- Albuquerque’s first street lights were in series, like old fashioned strings of Christmas lights. If one light went out, the whole string went out.
- Albuquerque was the first community in the United States to hire female streetcar conductors, who were referred to as motorettes.
- Private rooms in tuberculosis sanatoriums were furnished with ash trays.
- The Villa de Alburquerque (Old Town) didn't become part of the City of Albuquerque (New Town) until 1949.
- The planning department changed 300 street names on July 1, 1952.
- Albuquerque banned discrimination in public places in 1952, but didn't pass a fair housing ordinance until 1963.
- For the 1956 celebration of Albuquerque’s 250th Anniversary, the City Commission ordered the men of Albuquerque to start growing beards and the women to stop wearing cosmetics.
We’re confident that we have much more to learn, and we invite you to join us! Our speaker series continues on Saturday, July 12th at 10:30 a.m. Come share the startling discoveries as retired Assistant Chief Herman Bishop tells the story of how Albuquerque’s Fire Department moved from the era of the horse drawn fire wagon to age of the hook and ladder.