Santa Fe Mythbusters

Santa Fe Mythbusters

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Ah, Santa Fe. Such a befuddling, flaky, lovable mess. We love Santa Fe for its art and music, for its food, and the way everyone seems to walk everywhere at top speed. We love its spas, its quirkiness, its independence and its commercialism. The city swirls with urban myths, and Santa Fe embraces them all. There are ghosts in every church, spirits on every hill. Crystals and herbs to heal most aches and sorrows. Oh, and don't forget the art: galleries, museums, festivals. Here are some Santa Fe mythbusters to test your grasp of "The City Different:"

The Loretto Chapel has a spiral staircase that has no visible means of support.

FALSE. However romantic the story may be, it's simply an urban legend. Santa Fe's Loretto Chapel was constructed in the 1870s. The choir loft was elevated, but there was no way to reach it, and the sisters figured they'd need to use a ladder. They prayed to God for a solution, and the next day an itinerant carpenter showed up. The mysterious man built a beautiful spiral staircase, then disappeared. Much has been made of the apparent lack of support for the staircase, but in fact there is a hidden center pole. About 10 years after it was built, the staircase was attached to a pillar and a railing was added. Although a few claims have been made, the true identity of the carpenter has never been determined.

Loretto Chapel
207 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Summer: Mon-Sat 9AM-6PM, Sun 10:30AM-5PM; Winter: Mon-Sat 9AM-5PM, Sun 10:30AM-5PM

A Santa Fe man has sued his neighbor for refusing to turn off her WiFi and cell phone.

TRUE. This sounds like an urban myth, but Santa Fe resident Arthur Firstenberg claims to be ultra sensitive to electromagnetic fields, and insists that his neighbor's cell phone and computer use have made him so ill he must sleep in his car.

There's a diner in Santa Fe that used to feed bobcats at the back door.

TRUE. We can put this Santa Fe urban legend to rest. Back in the days before the construction of a major highway disrupted things, wild bobcats would come down into town. A handful of restaurants would feed the bobcats. One of them is now known as Bobcat Bite, which is loved for its green chile burgers. Bring cash!

Bobcat Bite
418 Old Las Vegas Hwy
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Summer: 11am-7:5opm; Hours vary seasonally

Santa Fe has only one Native American-owned hotel.

TRUE. The picturesque adobe Hotel Santa Fe is owned and operated by the Picuris Pueblo. The hotel's restaurant, Amaya, specializes in award-winning Native American cuisine and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Hotel Santa Fe
1501 Paseo de Paralta
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Santa Fe has more art than New York City.

TRUE. Now that's a Santa Fe mythbuster. Truth is, there is more art per capita in Santa Fe than anywhere else in the country. The light, the air, the low humidity – all create an environment that is especially appealing to artists. Every type of visual art is represented here. As for performing arts, let's just say these few words: symphony, opera, local and regional bands (rock, blues, jazz, country, you name it), theater, dance troupes, chamber orchestra and chorale, a couple dozen annual arts festivals. Every single night of the year, you have a choice to make.

Every September, Santa Fe burns a giant man.

TRUE. Zozobra, a 50-foot-tall dude originally designed by artist Will Shuster in 1924, goes up in flames every September, taking everyone's troubles and bad luck with him. It's part of the more serious cultural and religious Santa Fe Fiesta, a beloved tradition celebrated since 1712.

Santa Fe has more massage therapists per capita than any other U.S. city.

TRUE. Probably. No one has crunched the numbers yet, but as Santa Fe urban myths go, this one's a bust. The city does indeed have an extraordinarily large number of professional massage therapists. And acupuncturists, and holistic medicine practitioners, and day spas, and yoga studios, and vitamin retailers, and ... you get the idea.

Santa Fe boasts the only museum dedicated to a single female artist in the U.S.

TRUE. The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum opened in 1997. O'Keeffe once wrote, "I know I cannot paint a flower. I cannot paint the sun on the desert on a bright summer morning, but maybe in terms of paint color I can convey to you my experience of the flower or the experience that makes the flower of significance to me at that particular time." She was underestimating herself.

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
217 Johnson St
Santa Fe, NM
Sat-Thu 10AM-5PM, Fri 10AM-8PM (call ahead – museum closes to change exhibits three times a year)
Adult $10, Senior/Student $8, NM Resident $5, Child (18 and under) Free

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