Albuquerque’s Long Main Street
|Central Avenue at Downtown|
Photo courtesy Wickipedia
THE ZOZOBRA INCIDENT
In need of distraction, I glanced at my desk clock. Although it was almost ten, it wasn’t too late for the crowd at the C&W Palace. Things would just be heating up over there. I threw on a windbreaker against the night’s chill and headed for the Impala.
I picked up I-25 South and exited at Central Avenue, turning left up the long, steady climb to the heights. Central was once touted as the world’s longest main street and had been a stretch of the famous Route 66 before Eisenhower’s interstate highway program did it in. Now lined with one-story brick and stucco antique shops, cheap motels, bars, and adult book stores, Central was well past her glory days, but she still put on a flashy show of neon lights by night. Inevitably, the morning sun exposed her timeworn wrinkles and sagging frame.
I had intended to use this time to think. Instead, I found myself examining the venerable old gal. The impressive campus of Presbyterian Hospital showed signs of recent construction, but then it usually had something underway. The University of New Mexico was a beehive of activity. Apparently, some sort of musical performance at Popejoy Hall had ended, and cars were now spilling out of the side streets. The trendy Nob Hill Mall with its boutiques and outdoor cafes in the Mid Heights area drew college students and young adults from every walk of life.
I motored past the sprawling and aging New Mexico State Fairgrounds where a weekend flea market, in-season horse racing, and daily casino operations attracted gamblers, drunks, touts, and prostitutes of both sexes. Back in the days when I was a street cop, this area and the rabbit run a little farther to the west had dealt me more trouble than anywhere else. I’d faced down a distraught family man who’d gambled away the mortgage money at the racetrack and was determined to commit suicide by cop in the parking lot, but thank goodness my partner and I had talked him out of it. I’d pinched more than one thief trying to sell his loot in the flea market.
|Way back when Centrat was old Route 66|
Photo courtesy of Concordmonitor.com
A few blocks east of the fairgrounds, I pulled into the C&W’s parking lot and found a spot directly in front of the joint. I locked the Impala and walked to the front door, mentally preparing myself for the blast of humidity and humanity that would greet me. I wasn’t disappointed.
My only reason for making this passage my post of this week is to provide the reader, especially those who might not be familiar with the city, with a moment in time on the historic old route.
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