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Mayor Berry Opens Renovated Blacksmith Shop

Neon Sign will light the future of the rail yards

September 27, 2013

 

Albuquerque, NM— Mayor Richard J. Berry kicked off the celebration of the grand opening festivities at the renovated blacksmith shop with over 2,000 people by flipping a switch to illuminate the new neon sign above the entrance as a symbol that the rail yards is open to the public.

"Today begins the rebirth of the Albuquerque rail yards as part of our community.  By making the rail yards once again part of the community we are able to keep the rich history embodied here alive." Mayor Berry said.

The opportunity to bring the rail yards back to prominent place in the community necessitated bringing the building up to current safety codes to allow events like the grand opening, farmer’s markets, concerts, and car shows. Other work in the $900,000 project included repairing the broken glass panes, renovating the parking area, addressing ADA accessibility, cleaning, painting and installing electricity and lighting to the building.

"Under Mayor Berry’s direction, the Department of Municipal Development was proud to manage this construction project as the cornerstone of the rail yards redevelopment," DMD Director Michael Riordan said. "We are working closely with the Planning Department to enforce the long term rail yards plan, and Cultural Services Department who is scheduling the facility."

Construction began in July. Local company Van Gilbert was the design consultant, Bradbury Stamm, which has a local office in Albuquerque, was the contractor. The project was funded by voter approved G.O. Bonds.

The facility will be available for event rentals, potential retail ventures, and housing options all while continuing to reflect our rich history.


Background

Between 1880-1930 the single most important factor in Albuquerque’s transformation from a farming village to a commercial and industrial center was the railroad.  The Albuquerque rail yards helped build America, literally, only one of four like facilities in the United States (1914-1924). This rail yard serviced the entire southwestern region of the US.


The facility was built between 1914-1924 and operated by AT&SF Railway (Atchision, Topeka & Santa Fe) later BNSF (Burlington Northern) 27.3 acre site 360,000 feet under all rooftops (Blacksmith shop 27,000 ft). When built the site was outfitted with the latest engineering technology available for steam locomotives.  In the early 1900’s ¼ of the City’s workforce was employed on this site. During WWI (1914-1918) and WWII (1939-1945) this rail yard was integral to the war effort; protection of the site was matter of national security. The history of this site embodies American ingenuity, craftsmanship, and pride of work and is truly one of the last great pieces of American and Southwest history.

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