Brief History of EspaƱola

Española (IPA: /ɛspənˈjoʊlə/) is a city primarily in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, in the United States. A portion of the central and eastern section of the city is in Santa Fe County. Española, incorporated in 1925, is situated in an area that Juan de Oñate declared a capital for Spain in 1598. Española is well known as the first Capital City in America. At the 2000 census the city had a total population of 9,688. Española is within the Santa Fe-Espanola Combined Statistical Area.

The area now known as Española was the first European-founded capital of the "New World" (see below). In 1880, when the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (the "Chile Line") was being constructed in the area, Amado Lucero and his wife Josefita opened a restaurant to accommodate the railroad workers. The daughter of the famous Don Rafael Lopez of Santa Fe, Josefita could easily trace her roots to the earliest Spanish settlers of the region. Consequently, the railroad workers referred to the restaurant as "Española's", that is, the Spanish woman's restaurant. Soon the railroad started calling the area "Española" and the name stuck. Amado, Josefita and their daughter Eliza Lucero Hill are buried at the foot of the altar inside the Church of the Holy Cross in nearby Santa Cruz. Descendants of theirs continue to reside in the Española Valley.

Española has grown to include many of the adjacent rural communities. This includes the area in which Don Juan de Oñate declared a capital for Spain in 1598 and Don Diego de Vargas' new villa at Santa Cruz. Oñate arrived in the Española Valley on July 11, 1598 at the confluence of the Chama River and the Rio Grande, where he established a camp at a place then called Yunque-Yunque. He created a Spanish settlement in an area already inhabited by the indigenous descendants of the Anasazi. The treatment of the natives was typical of the Conquistadores at that time, with enslavement and brutality being a mainstay, despite the initially warm welcome.