Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico, United States. It is the county seat of Bernalillo County and is situated in the central part of the state, straddling the Rio Grande. The city population was 448,607 as of the 2000 U.S. census. As of the 2006 census estimate, the city's population was 504,949, with a metropolitan population of 816,811 as of July 1, 2006. In 2006, Albuquerque ranked as the 33rd-largest city and 61st-largest metropolitan area in the U.S. The Albuquerque MSA population includes the city of Rio Rancho, one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, a hub for many master-planned communities which are expected to draw future businesses and residents to the area.
Albuquerque is home to the University of New Mexico (UNM) and Kirtland Air Force Base as well as Sandia National Laboratories and Petroglyph National Monument. The Sandia Mountains run along the eastern side of Albuquerque and the Rio Grande flows through the city north to south.
Albuquerque has expanded greatly in area since the mid 1940s. During those years of expansion, the planning of the newer areas has considered that people don't walk, they drive. The pre-1940s parts of Albuquerque are quite different in style and scale from the post 1940s areas. These older areas include the North Valley, the South Valley, various neighborhoods near downtown, and Corrales. The newer areas generally feature 4 to 6 lane roads in a 1 mile (1.61 km) grid. Each 1 square mile (2.59 km²) is divided into four 160-acre neighborhoods by smaller roads set 0.5 miles (0.8 km) between major roads. When driving along major roads in the newer sections of Albuquerque, one sees strip malls, signs, and cinderblock walls. The upside of this planning style is that neighborhoods are shielded from the worst of the noise and lights on the major roads. The downside is that it is virtually impossible to go anywhere from home without driving.
Albuquerque is geographically divided into four quadrants which are officially part of the mailing address. They are NE (northeast), NW (northwest), SE (southeast), and SW (southwest). The north-south dividing line is Central Avenue (the path that Route 66 took through the city) and the east-west dividing line is the BNSF Railway tracks. Although this is technically the division of the city, in casual conversation Albuquerqueans sometimes use the perpendicular interstates I-25 and I-40 to divide the city into quadrants.
Tricklock Company is Albuquerque's only international touring theatre company. Every January, Tricklock hosts the Revolutions International Theatre Festival, which brings in performers from around the world.
The American Shakespeare Project is a local Shakespearean community theater company which is devoted to staging productions of Shakespeare's plays (and sometimes those of his contemporaries) with heavy emphasis on the textual authority of the First Folio.
Popejoy Hall, New Mexico's grandest multi-use theater, hosts a series of touring Broadway shows and national and international performers, The New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and performances by the UNM Department of Music and the Albuquerque Youth Symphony.
The hall is located on the campus of the University of New Mexico.
Albuquerque also has the largest hot air balloon gathering in the world. It is called the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and it is held during early October. It was started in 1972 with 13 balloons. It progressed and in 2000 there were a record 1000 balloons that attended and lifted off in a mass ascension. Since 2000 the officials keep it to no more than 700 registered balloons for safety, and it is the most photographed event in the world.
The city is also home to the annual Gathering of Nations Pow-Wow, an international event featuring over 3,000 indigenous Native American dancers and singers representing more than 500 tribes from Canada and the United States. Dancers and singers participate socially and competitively at the event, held in April.
The Sandia Mountains to the East offer interesting and varied rock climbing. Climbs from one to 10 pitches can be found at all ability levels.
The city is home to University of New Mexico, one of the two large state universities in New Mexico. UNM includes a School of Medicine which was ranked in the top 15 primary care-oriented medical schools in the country. Albuquerque is also home to the National American University, Trinity Southwest University, and the University of St. Francis College of Nursing and Allied Health Department of Physician Assistant Studies. The Central New Mexico Community College serves most of the area, as do several technical schools including ITT Technical Institute and the University of Phoenix. Furthermore, The Art Center Design College offers bachelor's degrees in Graphic and Interior Design, animation, illustration, Photography as well as several other disciplines. Albuquerque Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in the nation, provides educational services to over 87,000 children across the city.