SANTA FE LAND OWNERSHIP IN THE 1880s

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SANTA FE LAND OWNERSHIP IN THE 1880s

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Most people, if asked, would most likely say that after the coming of the railroad to Santa Fe in the 1880s, the shift of land from Hispanic to American ownership was extensive if not complete.  Indeed, anyone looking at the Santa Fe deed records for the period would be aware of the rapid turnover in property ownership, particularly in areas near the downtown and the railroad.

Things, however, are not always what they seem, and in fact, a close look at the 1880s land ownership data shows something different.  Particularly challenged are old notions of the wholesale loss of urban land to non-Hispanics and the limited role of Hispanic women in inheritance and ownership of land.  Also challenged is suggestion of the peripheral role of Hispanics in the 1880s in the buying and selling of land for investment purposes.  Based on the data, though the newcomers had a clear and definite impact, for privately owned lots, Hispanic property owners were in the majority.  In some categories, including downtown commercial lots, individual Hispanics constituted two-thirds of the property owners.  In several cases, over a quarter of the Hispanic property owners were women.  The data also shows that much of the land in Santa Fe’s downtown was owned by institutions, in particular, the Catholic church and the federal government.

In preparation for this article, data was derived from the 1885-86 Hartmann Map. The map showed lot lines, property ownership, structures, street names, some land uses, and arroyos and acequias. Measurement of the lots allowed calculation of the amount of land owner by individuals and government and religious institutions, and it allowed generation of numbers on ownership by ethnic group, gender and race.

The article includes the Hartmann Map and tables of the calculations.

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Article originally appeared as "Santa Fe Land Ownership in the 1880s," in the New Mexico Historical Review 68, no. 2 (April 1993): [153-180]. © 1993 by the University of New Mexico Board of Regents. All rights reserved.