Have you ever wondered why a street was given a certain name? If so, “Stories Behind the Street Names of Albuquerque, Santa Fe & Taos” by Donald A. Gill may be just the book for you. Gill, who was a professor of linguistics at the University of Southwestern Louisiana and author of “Stories Behind New Orleans Street Names” explains the history behind many popular street names in Albuquerque, including several in the far Northeast Heights.
The reasoning behind some street names is pretty obvious, while others are shrouded in mystery. One of the more straightforward street names is Tramway Boulevard, which runs both north-south and east-west on the far east and far north edge of Albuquerque. Tramway Boulevard, of course, refers to the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway built between 1964 and 1966. According to Gill, the tram was constructed at a cost of $2 million in 1964 and developed by the Ben Abruzzo family. Ben Abruzzo was a hot-air ballooning enthusiast who set two records by crossing the Pacific and Atlantic oceans in a balloon. He and his wife Patricia died in a 1985 plane crash just west of the Sandia Heights neighborhood Abruzzo helped to develop.
Alameda Boulevard, which runs east-west on the north side of Albuquerque, was named after the Alameda community, originally called San Carlos de Alameda, more commonly known as Sandia Pueblo. The road, which is one of a small handful that cross the Rio Grande within city limits, was named for its proximity to the Alameda community. Gill does not provide a lot of details regarding the history of the pueblo boundaries, but he does say Sandia Pueblo “was established in 1710 when a land grant was given to Francisco Montes Vigil for his military service.”
One street name Gill does provide more background to is Bent Road in the Heritage East neighborhood. The road was named after Charles Bent, the first civilian U.S. governor of the New Mexico territory. Bent served as territorial governor from 1846-47 and was assassinated on Jan. 19, 1847, during an uprising in Taos. According to Gill, “Bent reportedly died attempting to crawl through a hole in the adobe wall of his home with arrows protruding from his body, having been scalped while he was still alive.”
The history behind the name Yeager Drive is not as colorful as other street names but still a bit mysterious. Gill says the road, which runs east-west on both sides of Barstow Street, was named after Ed Yeager, “an engineer with M. and Q. Southwest, the company that platted Loma Del Norte in the early 1970s.” A web search for Ed Yeager and M. and Q. Southwest did not provide any more details of the engineer or the company he worked for.
Just north of Yeager Drive is Krim Drive, which was also named after an employee at M. and Q. Southwest. According to Gill, the street was named after Frank Krim, who was a draftsman for the company. Gill says Tom Burlison was the person who decided on the Krim street name, but he does not quite connect the dots to Burlison, which is the name of another street in the Northeast Heights. According to Gill, Burlison Drive in Academy Acres was named after Thomas Burlison, who worked for Bellamah Home and the Home Planning Corporation. Burlison’s boss, Ralph Hicks, named the street on the spot while at the Planning and Zoning Commission in 1972.
To learn more about the history of street names in Albuquerque, Taos and Santa Fe, go to the Cherry Hills Library and look for Gill’s book in the reference section. The book can also be checked out from other branch libraries, but the one at Cherry Hills is for reference only and cannot be checked out at that location.