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Wheels Museum

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www.eventbrite.com/e/fred-harvey-history-weekend-2022-tickets-277209399777?fbclid=IwAR2F3fa2tnatpbl6ga0-xggp5mnxu9-BzUocZ5d4_XDuic33MalIetx8Pc4

Wheels Museum

1 week 4 days ago

Wheels Museum

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abq.news/2022/09/opinion-albuquerque-sits-at-a-crossroads-to-growth/

Rise, fall of treasured masterpiece

By Dave DeWitt

This is an excerpt from my latest book, The Southwest Table, just published by Lyons Press. It details the rise and fall of the Alvarado Hotel, which played an important role in the history of Albuquerque.

After the Homestead Act of 1862 and the arrival of the railroad between 1879 and 1882, settlers from the eastern U.S. flooded into New Mexico. The railroad also led to the establishment of the first “Harvey Houses,” a successful chain of railroad hotels and their restaurants founded by English expatriate and entrepreneur, Fred Harvey. At one point, New Mexico boasted 16 Harvey Houses, including five that were arguably the grandest of the entire chain: Montezuma and Castaneda in Las Vegas, La Fonda in Santa Fe, Alvarado in Albuquerque and El Navajo in Gallup.

To staff the chain, Harvey hired a celebrated crew of female hostesses, ranging in age from 18 to 30, who proved to be quite an attraction on the Western frontier (where women were scarce). American humorist Will Rogers once said that, “Fred Harvey kept the West in food and wives.” One of the overall aims of the Harvey Houses was to bring “civilized” food to the frontier, and early menus reveal dishes such as chicken croquettes, baron of beef, turkey stuffed with oysters, vermicelli with cheese al la Italian and the ever-delectable calf’s brains scrambled with ranch eggs. Interestingly, Mexican food was, at the time, considered to be too “native” for travelers and rarely appeared on the hotel and restaurant menus. Harvey’s Albuquerque location, The Alvarado Hotel, was the lone exception.

This magnificent structure opened in 1902 at a cost of $200,000 — a huge amount then — and was considered to be both the “finest railroad hotel on earth” and Harvey’s lest lodging creation. Located along the railroad tracks facing First Street (now the Alvarado Transportation Center), the Spanish Mission-style Alvarado featured 88 guest rooms, a gigantic dining room, Spanish-tiled roofs, swimming pools, many patios with cascading fountains and the beautiful Harvey Girls, who were the restaurant hostesses and served “all-you-could-eat” New Mexican food for one dollar.

The hotel was named after Hernando de Alvarado, commander of artillery in Coronado’s great Southwest expedition. Charles F. Whittlesey designed the hotel and Mary Elizabeth Colter decorated the Indian building, a museum and store located next to the hotel. Many celebrities stayed at the Alvarado: Rudolph Valentino, Albert Einstein, Charles Lindbergh, Joan Crawford, Katherine Hepburn and Jack Benny, to name just a few. U.S. presidents selecting the Alvarado included William H. Taft (who got stuck in the bathtub), Herbert Hoover, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt, The Alvarado fell on hard times upon the arrival of serious competition, such as the flagship Hilton Hotel. Quite tragically, the Alvarado Hotel was eventually abandoned, and despite commendable efforts to preserve this historic site, an Albuquerque architectural masterpiece (and a significant part of the city’s food history) was torn down in 1970. A train station, built in a similar style, has now replaced the original hotel. A sad loss indeed.

Yeida Anderson
I took my son yesterday and the employees were so nice, we got greet by the resident dog Gus so handsome, thank you to the employee in charge of the model trains that took the time to speak with my son about trains. Everything was excellent.
Yeida Anderson
2022-07-13
Robert Oberer
One of the docents took a lot of time showing us around !ND took us and the kids for a train ride.
Robert Oberer
2022-07-05
Lupita Montoya
Wonderful fun place to learn and see old vintage machinery and photos and you can get a train ride! ❤️
Lupita Montoya
2022-07-02
D M
Don't miss this museum! Best kept secret...
D M
2022-06-19
Donald Gallegos
Must see in Albuquerque
Donald Gallegos
2022-06-14
Henryk Sloma
An eclectic collection of transportation vehicles. Wonderful staff
Henryk Sloma
2022-06-12
KatieMaybeKatie
There is a lot to see in this museum! The volunteer staff was so nice and friendly, our 5-year-old son really loved it. Be sure to bring dog treats for the friendly resident dog, Gus!
KatieMaybeKatie
2022-06-09
Jehania
Very friendly staff. My niece loved the train ride and learning about all the different types of transportation. Go if you get the chance.
Jehania
2022-06-03
Zzzz
Nice museum, lots o' wheels!
Zzzz
2022-05-30
Reviews

Events

CELL PHONE PHOTO CLASS with Irene Fertik, Professional Photographer Monday, October 17 at 10 AM - noon. Suggested Donation is $20. RSVP: (505) 243-6269 More

WHEELS Sponsored Amtrak Las Vegas Trip October 21-23 Join the WHEELS museum for a scenic fall group trip to historic Las Vegas, NM. Reservation deadline is September 30. RSVP: (505) 243-6269 More

Revisiting the Diverse Men and Women Workers of the Albuquerque Railyard presentation by Cecelia Navarrete. Saturday, October 29 10-11:30 AM at WHEELS Museum. RSVP is a must: (505) 243-6269. Admission is free; donations are gratefully accepted. More

Jazz Music Events
Featuring some of the top Jazz live music acts in the Southwest, the "Jazz on WHEELS" series begins in October and runs through the end of December. The WHEELS Museum has partnered with local events production company Mariposa Music,, to utilize the power of music to benefit the museum. The Jazz on WHEELS performance will begin at 2pm on selected Sundays. Visit mariposamusicrocks.com for more information.