City of Albuquerque

Central Avenue Streetscape
Central Avenue Streetscape

Population, 2015: 559,121
Area: 188.84 square miles
Incorporated: 1891
Location: North-central New Mexico at the junction of I-25 and I-40


The City of Albuquerque, centrally located at the crossroads of two interstate highways, is New Mexico's largest city by far. Albuquerque accounts for nearly 75 percent of the four-county region's population, and 64 percent of employment. Since 1960, the city has grown 178 percent, and stretches from the Sandia Mountains on the east to the historic volcanoes on the west.

Albuquerque is home of the University of New Mexico (UNM), the state's flagship university; Sandia National Laboratories; and Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB). The city has three science and technology parks to capitalize on these assets.

Transportation is a strength, with two interstate highways, commuter and freight rail, an international airport, a general aviation airport, city-wide transit service, as well as a healthy network of bike lanes and trails.

Revitalization, public and private, has transformed Downtown and adjacent older neighborhoods into pleasant, lively, pedestrian-friendly centers of commerce and activity. Currently, the City is constructing a new Bus Rapid Transit line along the historic Route 66 Avenue corridor to improve transit efficiency and stimulate new transit-oriented development, as have the Rail Runner commuter rail stations.  

Statue in Albuquerque's Old Town
Statue in Albuquerque's Old Town


Albuquerque's economy is a diverse mix of service providers, retail, high tech and manufacturing. It accounts for about one-third of the state's tourism, and hosts the internationally known Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in October. Albuquerque is nationally recognized as a movie town, with Albuquerque Studios, along with a 50-acre complex that boasts nine soundstages. Kirtland Air Force Base, located in southeast Albuquerque, is the third largest installation in Air Force Global Strike Command and sixth largest in the Air Force. The base occupies 51,558 acres and employs more than 23,000 people, including more than 4,200 active duty and 1,000 Guard, plus 3,200 part-time Reserve personnel. Kirtland AFB's economic impact for 2000 on the City of Albuquerque was over $2.7 billion.

Major private employers: Presbyterian and Lovelace Hospitals; T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon call centers; PNM; Sitel; Tempur-Pedic World Mattress Co.; General Mills; Honeywell Aerospace; Ethicon Endo-Surgery and Fidelity Investments.

Geography: Albuquerque is located on a semi-arid plateau. The metro area stretches from the Middle Rio Grande Valley east to the Sandia Mountains and the volcanic escarpment on the West Mesa, for an average elevation of 5,400 feet.


Founded in 1706 and named for a Spanish Duke, Albuquerque began as a farming community of Spanish settlers. After the Mexican War and American annexation in 1846, the government established a military outpost in Albuquerque. The first period of major growth came with the arrival of the railroad in 1880. After 1940, Albuquerque became a center for national defense research. Kirtland Air Force Base was established on the outskirts during World War II.


ABQ Population 2010-2015 Graph

More Information


Mayor, elected.
Nine city councilors, elected by district, four-year staggered terms.
Chief Administrative Officer, appointed by the Mayor.


Water: Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority
Source: Ground water and Rio Grande surface water
Sewer: City of Albuquerque
Solid Waste: City of Albuquerque
Electric: Public Service Company of New Mexico
Natural Gas: New Mexico Gas Company
Telephone: CenturyLink


Interstate Highways: I-25 (north-south) and I-40 (east-west)
Air: Albuquerque International Sunport, passenger and freight
General aviation: Double Eagle II Airport
Rail, passenger: Amtrak
Commuter: New Mexico Rail Runner Express, Belen to Santa Fe
Freight: Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railroad
Bus, intercity: TNM&O, El Paso-Los Angeles Limousine Express, Autobuses Americanos
Transit: City of Albuquerque
Mean travel time to work: 21 minutes


K-12: Albuquerque Public School District and private schools
Higher education: University of New Mexico, Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), and private schools


Mountain recreation: The Sandia Mountains to the east, which reach 10,678-foot at the highest point, offer skiing, hiking, biking and picnic spots. The Rio Grande Nature Center State Park offers trails and wildlife viewing along the Rio Grande.

Ballooning: The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta each October draws 800,000 visitors each year to enjoy the colorful aerial spectacle of some 750 hot-air balloons rising in beautiful fall weather. Balloonists who live here enjoy accommodating ballooning weather most of the year.

Attractions: The Albuquerque Bio Park includes the Rio Grande Zoo, the Albuquerque Aquarium, the Rio Grande Botanic Garden, and the fishing ponds of Tingley Beach, all linked by the Rio Line, an 1890's scale-model train. Sandia Peak Tramway, the world's longest aerial tramcar system, carries visitors 2.7 miles up the west face of the Sandia Mountains. At the heart of Albuquerque lies Old Town - the city's most historic district - with shops, art galleries and restaurants. Petroglyph National Monument preserves nearly 20,000 ancient rock-art etchings by Native Americans and also offers scenic walking trails. Albuquerque also contains a piece of more recent history which includes a lengthy section of famed Route 66.

Museums: The Museum of Natural History and Science, the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, Explora Science Center and Children's Museum, the University of New Mexico's Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, the National Atomic Museum, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Museum, and the Unser Racing Museum.

Sports: Basketball and football at the University of New Mexico, the Isotopes, Albuquerque's Triple-A minor league baseball team, and year-round golf on more than a dozen golf courses.

City recreation: Along with a robust network of parks, the City's 29,000 acres of Open Space areas welcome walkers, joggers, bicyclists and horseback riders. Maps for walking tours, bicycling, and even one for viewing public art, can be found by visiting the City's official website: Albuquerque has more than 400 miles of bike trails, as well as a BMX track, a skate park, and a shooting range.

Arts: National Hispanic Cultural Center, with art exhibits and a performing arts center; the University of New Mexico's Popejoy Hall; more than 40 art galleries; about 250 arts organizations; hundreds of artisan manufacturing companies producing furniture, jewelry, pottery, clothing and textiles. Albuquerque is one of six major jewelry-producing centers in the nation.



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MRCOG OfficeMid-Region Council of Governments
809 Copper Avenue, NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Phone: 505-247-1750
Fax: 505-247-1753
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