Saturday, September 10, 2011

Albuquerque Railyard Exhibit - Opening September 15, 2011

My favorite place to visit and photograph in all of Albuquerque is the old railyard complex just south of downtown. I did a VERY LONG POST on the history of the place, with plenty of photos, in early 2010. Since then it's become VERY difficult to get a close look at the railyard due to movie shoots and drastically increased security once the city became liable for the property. But lots of people love the railyard and this Thursday, September 15, 2011, a mostly-photographic exhibit dedicated to raising public awareness of this stunning (and imperiled) collection of industrial architecture will open at the Kimo Theatre Gallery, 423 Central Ave. NW. Most--if not all--of the photographers will be present (yes, including me) and the show is free, so come on down Thursday between 6 and 8 PM if you can. All the works will be for sale, as well. The show runs through mid-November, so there's plenty of time to stop by if you can't make the opening. Hope to see you there!

Lots more information on the exhibit, including photos, recollections, and history can be found at the ALBUQUERQUE RAIL YARDS website. In addition to the above-mentioned City of Dust POST, a couple more of my rail yard photos can be found HERE and about, uh, 80 more HERE.

The great photo used for the postcard above was taken by local urban explorer KILLBOX. The photo below is yet another by yours truly.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Goodbye, Silver Moon Lodge

Two venerable old motels in Albuquerque bit the dust this summer. Both were along Route 66 and had long histories serving weary travelers in the city. The Aztec Motel, which was built in the early 1930’s and located near Nob Hill, was one of the quirkiest (and downright strangest) places I’ve ever visited. Its demise has elicited some response around town, including a memorial art show that wrapped up last week. I’ll do a post on the Aztec soon. But I’m going to start with a motel on the other side of town that went down without much of a whimper, the Silver Moon Lodge.

The Silver Moon Lodge, built in 1953, was at 918 Central Ave. SW., not too far from Old Town. The Silver Moon and the Central Park Deli, which was also located on the premises, closed for good on October 15, 2007 after a 54-year run. Then, in the absence of a development plan, the entire complex sat vacant until July of this year. Originally, the place was known as the Desert Skies Motor Hotel. After that, it became the Desert Inn Motor Hotel. Here is (UPDATE: was) a cool POSTCARD from that era. By the 1980’s, a third name change found the hotel billed as the Grand Western Motor Inn. Clyde and Goldie Taylor, who ran the Desert Inn in Santa Fe, owned the business around this time. Here’s one POSTCARD from that period. And here is (UPDATE: was) ANOTHER. I don’t know when the official name switch to the Silver Moon Lodge occurred, but the hotel appears to have sometimes been referred to as the Grand Western Motor Lodge up until it closed.

Peak Hospitality eventually acquired the Silver Moon and, when asked in 2007 if it might be renovated rather than torn down, stated, “We spent $1 million renovating it when we bought it seven years ago. The plumbing and water systems were starting to go. The numbers didn’t work out (on a renovation).”

You know, I understand that economic concerns trump all other considerations when it comes to business. It’s a shame to lose a piece of history, but it’s hard to compete with the Best Western’s and Super 8’s. Of course, once a motel starts to decline, it’s hard to get it back on track. I’ll finish this post with a review from Yelp, posted about nine months before the Silver Moon’s doors were locked:

“You can't expect very much from cheap motels, but this place was pretty bad (and not super inexpensive). Everything in our room seemed like it was broken -- the bathroom lights, locks, closet hanger rod, toilet, and curtain rod. On top of that, our towels and all the chairs in the room had mysterious stains on it. The only reason why this place gets two stars instead of one is because the staff was so nice and responded quickly when we phoned about broken lights and busted locks. They also provide free shuttling to and from the airport.”

If anyone has other recollections of the Silver Moon to share, please send them in. I’d love to hear ‘em.

Information for this post came from Route 66 News, a great site called Motel Fan done by a motel enthusiast from the Netherlands, and, of course YELP. The postcards were found on 66 Postcards and Card Cow.