A town of about 10,000 residents, Silver City, New Mexico, is known as the gateway to wilderness because of its location next to Gila National Forest, which offers 3.3 million acres of history and peacefulness.
This historic city was discovered by prospectors in 1870. What began as a single cabin grew to 80 buildings in 10 months, and today it’s a hub for artists in the southwestern corner of New Mexico between El Paso, Texas, and Phoenix, Arizona.
The silver mines caused the boom of the town in the late 1800s, and today it is the Red Dot area that entices visitors. The area offers a large variety of art and resident artists, that include styles from paintings to glassblowing and pottery to fiber arts and more. Coffee shops are plentiful and offer residents and visitors a variety of quick bites, drinks and outdoor seating.
The Red Dot area is considered to be the most diverse art collective in New Mexico, and rightly so. As a visitor walking the quaint streets, you will find shop after shop, studio after studio of unique artists, gifts and handcrafted items, and the city of silver continues to grow with possibilities.
The area is named Red Dot because of the red dots placed on the sidewalks and windows that guide visitors to the galleries, studios and shops. The downtown area is very walkable and, when your feet tire, stop in to one of the many restaurants for a bite to eat or check out the Pretty Sweet Emporium, which offers homemade artisanal flavors of the week, fudge and gifts. The culinary selection is amazing for any city but extraordinary for the size of Silver City.
The city was built to last. In 1880 an ordinance was passed that only masonry construction would be allowed for newer buildings. The results are a city filled with solid buildings for commercial use and beautiful brick Victorian homes.
Every city has issues at some time and Silver City is no different — it lost its Main Street and all but one building there to flooding from 1890 to 1910. However, what used to be Main Street is now Big Ditch Park. This area sits about 50 feet or so below the city streets and sidewalks.
What used to be a dump and sewer has become a green space enjoyed by residents and visitors to Silver City. Carved out by those flood waters, the Big Ditch now has walking trails and beautiful tree lined paths where many are seen enjoying a book or sitting having a friendly conversation. Concerts and other programs are often held at the park.
Visitors to the city will most likely notice that the sidewalks are very high. Elizabeth Warren, a prominent businesswoman and one of the first female building contractors in New Mexico, started a project to raise the sidewalks to protect residents and buildings from the floodwaters. Warren’s 1856 Victorian home is the only house left on Main Street and has been restored to its original beauty.
In sticking with the history of Silver City, consider a “step back in time” stay in the historic Murray Hotel. Opened in 1938, its Art Deco design is interesting and unique. Whether you are a guest of the hotel or visiting the area, the hotel encourages visitors to take a tour and view its hallway artwork, which tells the story of this Silver City icon and the area surrounding it. The Murray is downtown, within easy walking distance to restaurants, breweries, shops, galleries, the Red Spot area and the Big Ditch.
The Murals of Silver City, more than 50 of them, are throughout the city. There is a downloadable map at visitsilvercity.org. The art was painted by participants in the Mimbres Region Arts Council Youth Mural Project.
For more information on places to stay, eat and visit go to visitsilvercity.org or call 575-538-5555. They will have up-to-date information on COVID-19-related closures and postponements.