The Aztec Motel was a historic motor lodge for drivers along Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Built in 1932, it was the first of the auto courts servicing the famous road and holds the distinction of being the longest operated motel along the route.

As a Route 66 motel it had the usual service garages and sleeping units. The garages were eventually converted in more sleeping units as the Route died and like most hotels along Route 66, it suffered a decline once the interstate was built through the city diverting traffic away from Central Avenue and the Route.

It was demolished in 2011 because it had become a money sink for its owners and is now a vacant lot.

The most notable thing about the adobe building is that it was covered in found art of various Southwest flavor. This made the building look incredibly tacky, but extremely interesting. It had drugstore Indians, decorative tiles, pictures of vaquero, odd pots, wagon wheels, bird statues, busts of race horses and metal abstract art. It was one of those things that revealed more of itself the longer you looked at it.

Growing up in Albuquerque, the place is one of those “oh, that’s there” type of things that you take for granted until it’s gone. Ultimately, things do not remain and what will vanish, be replaced, or come about in this decade or the next is not predictable; the Aztec Motel was listed as a historic place with cultural significance to the State of New Mexico but for all of that, it was only a cheap roadside motel and it died the death expected of such a place. Bulldozed without ceremony. This goes, I suppose, to underscore the need to notice what is around us, and to appreciate it while we have it.

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