Main Streets 2016: New Mexico
There’s not a lot of rain in Silver City. But when it does fall, it can be quite a deluge, especially since the town was built where water naturally drains right through. That’s how Main Street here was supplanted by Bullard Street as the main thoroughfare.
One night in 1895, a wall of water came rushing through the central business district, leaving a trail of destruction and a 55-foot-deep ditch where Main Street had been. The solution? The back doors of many Main Street businesses became their new front doors, opening onto Bullard Street, which soon grew into the heart of this mining town. Today, what was once Main Street is now known as Big Ditch Park. It’s one of many parks around town that cater to the outdoor-loving people of this small city in central New Mexico.
Silver City started life as an Apache campsite — today, it’s a bicyclists’ mecca, an archaeologist’s dream, and home to many a cowboy. All of this part of New Mexico is a haven for people seeking rugged outdoor beauty, history, arts, culture and entertainment. Silver City streets feature classic Western adobe architecture as well as some Victorian beauties, with many local buildings dating to the community’s early years as a mining town. One of the classics is the 1923 Silco Theater, whose marquee is a beacon on Bullard Street. The Silver City MainStreet Project offers a trove of information.
The Silver City Museum occupies one of the beautiful historic buildings, an 1881 Italianate red brick mansion whose exhibits give creative, thoughtful introductions to the city’s history. There’s also plenty of art to see in some of the historic buildings. The Mimbres Region Arts Council provides a map to more than 50 murals that are housed in the buildings around downtown.
Just off Bullard Street on Yankie Street, the art and crafts continue along two blocks of galleries and artisan workshops, including the Silver City Art Association. The best times to visit might be during the Silver City Fiber Arts Festival in November or the CLAY Festival in the summer.
Western New Mexico University on the west side of downtown helps pull it all together, and gives Silver City the youthful energy of a college town. And sitting at the edge of Gila National Forest as Silver City does, there are always plenty of outdoor recreation options, just an easy ride from Bullard Street.
Bash on Broadway and Clay Festival photos courtesy of SC Daily Press