The city’s conventional marketing strategy for tourists is to rely on 400 years of Santa Fe’s rich history. But neither visitors nor locals are reminded much about what the city was like in the less-distant past.
Take 1974, for example. Nearly 40 years ago, the Plaza seemed more like today's Cerrillos Road commercial corridor. Santa Fe's population was roughly 46,000, and you could walk to Grant Avenue near Burro Alley and buy a record at Star Record Shop—or buy furniture at the nearby Bargain Center Furniture & Appliance.
On W San Francisco Street and Don Gaspar Avenue—an area now populated by pricier tourist-oriented restaurants and shops—stood Goodman's Clothing. The Candyman, a musical instrument dealer, was on E Water Street instead of its current St. Michael's Drive location.
Now a group of Santa Feans aims to capture the city's recent history, from post- World War II to 1990—what they like to call "Old School Santa Fe."
Vince Kadlubek, founder of Meow Wolf art collective, teamed up with Victor Romero, founder of Santa Fe VIP, along with Bill Rodgers, a former reporter for the Albuquerque Journal and Rio Grande Sun, to create the Santa Fe Stories Project.
Kadlubek says Santa Fe's image "either seems fabricated in order to be a part of some marketable identity, or it seems preserved from a period a long time ago. There's no immediate history."
He says he got the idea for the project after submitting a question on a Facebook group run by Romero called "You Know You're Old School Santa Fe When…" Kadlubek's question on the Facebook group's wall was simple: "When was your first job?" It received about 800 responses, he says.
"That made me realize, like, this needs to be documented properly," he adds.
And how better to document in this day and age than to go digital? The project will collect user-submitted photographs, papers and stories from that era and create a "mobile museum" of "historical hotspots."
For the mobile museum to work it will require the participation of businesses around the city. The project's pitch is that users can walk into, for instance, Tune- Up Café, which would advertise the project's logo, and make a QR code available for users to scan with their mobile device. After scanning the code, a photograph would then appear on the Santa Fe Stories app showing Tune-Up Café when it was Dave's Not Here.
The project founders hope to collect 1,000 pieces of history "tied to a specific location across Santa Fe."
"It's my hope that this project will generate scads of interesting, bite-sized narratives which will give Santa Feans a three-dimensional picture of their home, a picture of the past which continues to inform their day-to-day experience here," Rodgers writes to SFR.
While the "mobile museum" component of the project is just one way for younger users to experience the city's recent history, project members also say they plan on archiving material on its website.
The material, they say, will include user-submitted stories about Santa Fe, video interviews of Santa Feans and images of the era.
Users can log onto sfstories.org and submit their story about that era, which can range from personal (one user submitted a story about running away as a child by taking the Greyhound bus) to the more factual (a woman submitted a story about her experience with the old Santa Fe High building on Marcy and Washington).
Both the website and mobile app will be available free. The founders are looking to finance the project through donations and have launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign.