Voted one of ten, Favorite Iconic American Streets by the readers of USA Today and 10 Best, Canyon Road is certainly one of the city’s best known locations, a destination tourists seek out by name, and locals enjoy for its galleries and excellent restaurants. While there are other fine art districts in Santa Fe, Canyon Road itself has exceptional character, history and pedestrian appeal. Efforts to preserve the street’s charm and vitality have been so successful that Canyon was selected by the American Planning Association as one of Ten Great Streets in America. Planners concern themselves not just with static, physical elements, but with how a street balances competing needs, how it reflects and supports the local culture, how easy it is use as well as how appealing, memorable and dynamic. As a vital and beloved artery of Santa Fe’s daily life, Canyon Road scores high marks all around.
From its early use as a footpath to the mountains, Canyon evolved into rough road through adjacent farmlands, attracting its first crop of artists in the early part of the 20th century. Over 150 years of history left many beautiful, noteworthy structures on Canyon Road. The Gaugy Gallery, at 418 Canyon, was built in the 180o’s as a residence and has been expanded and refined over the years to accommodate the rich and varied lives of its residents. Situated on grounds that were once covered in orchards, the home retains its link to the land through several lovely courtyards. Its interior was featured in the book Santa Fe Style, by Christine Mather and Sharon Woods.
A short distance up the road, at 520 Canyon, is the Marc Navarro gallery whose stone exterior and tiny windows covered with elegant iron bars is a handsome variation on the streetscape.
The Historic Foundation of Santa Fe has plaqued over a half-dozen properties deemed “worth preservation” on Canyon Road, including the lovely El Zaguán, 540 Canyon Road, whose rounded lines and restful garden are a pleasing window onto a mellow past. At 630 Canyon, the Olive Rush House and Studio has long been used as The Friends’ Meeting House. The home was bequeathed to the Santa Fe Society of Friends by Rush, herself a Quaker. The Rafael Borrego House, at 724 Canyon, is the current home of Geronimo, one of Santa Fe’s finest restaurants with an outstanding, seasonally variable menu. (Read more about restaurants on Canyon Road at Dining Santa Fe: Canyon Road.)
The annual Canyon Road Walk, on Christmas Eve, is one of the city’s most beloved, longstanding traditions and often the only time some locals visit the storied street. But the Great Street of Canyon Road is an ambassador of the city, an iconic ribbon of art and history, and a pleasant avenue well worth an afternoon’s stroll.
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