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Canyon Road – More than 100 years of Art History

Canyon RoadThe modern day Canyon Road is vastly different from the road that sprang up along the fertile soil near the Santa Fe River at least as far back as the 1750’s.

While some of the oldest houses along this historic street still stand, you are not likely to see a herd of sheep moving along this road to pasture. Nor will you see burros laden with firewood returning to Santa Fe. So how exactly did, Canyon Road, a small street of colonial homes and farms become the second largest art market in the Unites States?

As far back as the 1880’s professional artists would visit Santa Fe. The local cultures, villages and natural scenic beauty provided ample and exotic subject matter for paintings and sculpture. However it was the dry climate that encouraged many artists to make Santa Fe and Canyon Road their permanent home.

The first artist to call Canyon Road home was Gerald Cassidy, when he purchased a home on the road in 1915.

However in only a few year’s time he was joined by other world renowned artists. By the 1920’s Santa Fe was already recognized as an important art colony based on the presence of the nationally known artistsans who chose to call it home.

It was during the 1940’s that Canyon Road started it’s shift from a residential farm road to a commercial district.

Neighborhood oriented businesses opened, and even the art community was catered to with the opening of two art supply houses as well as a school of art. Surprisingly, during this time there was only a single gallery on Canyon Road.

It was in 1962 that the City of Santa Fe declared Canyon Road a “residential arts and crafts zone.” It was this declaration that paved the way for Canyon road to become what it is today. Throughout the remainder of the 1960’s and 1970’s as many as seven new galleries opened each year on Canyon Road, alongside the proliferation of curio, gift and antique shops.

By the 1980’s Canyon Road was a fashionable place to live. The residential part of the “residential arts and crafts zone” led to many homes along the road being restored or enlarged, and many of the old plots of farmland were purchased for new home construction. Even today many fine homes are tucked out of sight along the road, hidden behind adobe walls or located on the large plots that also house the galleries.

One thing that has never changed about Canyon Road is the picturesque quality of this unique neighborhood. The very same beauty that lured in the earliest artisans of the road continues to bring seekers of beauty and art to this street today.

We invite you to visit this historic road, to explore the adobe architecture, browse the 130 + galleries and to experience the beauty of Santa Fe’s historic Canyon Road for yourself.


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  1. Danielle says:

    My name is Danielle, I’m with Muses & Visionaries Magazine and we have an upcoming travel article (April/May 2015) on Santa Fe and are considering featuring this road of galleries, we’re hoping you could provide us with some media images (need hi-res (300 dpi) images), that we could use. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. Thanks


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