When the railroad came to Albuquerque in 1880, the city expanded eastward toward the tracks, which were located on higher ground about a mile from Old Town. The arrival of the railroad brought commerce and activity to New Town, as it was then known. Today we call this area Downtown Albuquerque, and it remains a hub of activity. As in many other urban areas, Albuquerque’s downtown area declined as rapid development expanded the city’s borders. But Downtown is in the midst of an ongoing multimillion-dollar revitalization, and it is now home to bustling restaurants, trendy shops, art galleries and a lively entertainment district. Several of the area's older buildings have been converted into stylish lofts, eclectic lounges and venues for live music, all within easy walking distance of Downtown’s high-rise hotels.

The famous Route 66, now Central Avenue, is Downtown’s main artery. The Alvarado Transportation Center, at First and Central, is home to the city’s regional transportation system, linking Amtrak, a commuter rail, Greyhound bus service and local bus service. The Mission Revival-style Alvarado Transportation Center echoes the style of an old railroad hotel, the Alvarado, that once stood on the same site.