As the 19th Century turned to the 20th Century Albuquerque was concentrated in the ancestral river valley of the Rio Grande. The east mesa comprised thousands of acres of grass and brush criscrossed by dirt paths with a few dozen ranching homesteads.
There was no drug to cure the tuberculosis bacillus that caused the dreaded, often fatal “white plague.” Doctors sent their patients to locations of medium altitude and clear air where they rested constantly spending all the time they could outdoors…even sleeping on open porches year round. Albuquerque filled the bill for such a place. The Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad stopped at Albuquerque’s station on Railroad Avenue (later changed to Central Avenue.) Patients stepped off the train looking for housing. Some eagerly trekked up the sand hills to the east mesa where the air was less affected by smoke of wood and coal, the only fuels available. These patients and their families did much to stimulate development of the east mesa.
In 1889 the Territorial Legislature chartered the University of New Mexico which started construction at Railroad Ave. and Plum St., now known as Central Ave. and University Blvd.
The area now known as Nob Hill was among the early developments on the east mesa. Its first subdivision, University Heights, was platted by Col D.K.B. Sellers and A.C. McMillan in 1916. It was followed by additions in 1925 and 1926. Small contractors built exuberant regionally-inspired houses, many in styles that revived Spanish, Pueblo, or Territorial styles and 80% of Nob Hill was built by WWII.
Owing to serendipitous circumstances, Nob Hill today is one of the best preserved residential neighborhoods of that era in Albuquerque. Its streetscapes paint a vivid picture of Albuquerque as builders pushed out of the valley and onto the east mesa. Its houses illustrate the picturesque regionally-inspired styles popular at the time and provide a verifiable evidentiary record of a significant architectural past.
Nob Hill turned 100 in 2016. Individuals and groups throughout the community partnered in a yearlong celebration. Nob Hilleños celebrated with a Pet Parade, an Insider’s Tour of historic buildings, and a dinner commemorating the 35¢ chicken dinners provided by the ladies of Monte Vista Christian Church in the 1930s. The celebration included an oral history project which can now be enjoyed on this website.