If you are in Albuquerque during the holidays, and go to the River of Lights at the ABQ BioPark, you will drive by the El Vado Motel at 2500 Central Ave (Old Route 66). A brief history provided by the Nation Park Service states that it was built by Daniel Murphy in 1937, but a sign on one of the buildings reads “Since 1936”. It was considered “Swanky” with its two rows of single-story rooms, and carports stuck in-between some of the rooms.
Originally named “El Vado Auto Court Motel”, it was built on Central Ave close to where the old Route 66 bridge crossed the Rio Grande, which was the site of a “ford” (crossing) before the bridge was built, thus the name El Vado — “The Ford”. The El Vado was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993, and while it probably is “the purest Route 66 Motel surviving”, it hasn’t been “Open 24 Hours” for many years. Since it’s a national historic place, it can’t simply be demolished, so its buildings sit abandoned and boarded up.
But not all is lost, the City of Albuquerque put out a request for proposal for development and architectural services for The El Vado Redevelopment in July, and unveiled the plan October 1st. A controversy has arisen over the company chosen to redevelop the El Vado, but whoever ends up doing the job, the planned $16 million redevelopment is expected to be completed by 2016 — the year the El Vado turns 80.