“Albuquerque is not a city”

Albuquerque is not a city, even as its metropolitan-area population approaches one million. That is, it cannot imagine itself a city because to do so would negate its reason for being, its biggest draw for tourists and refugees from Los Angeles and other large cities. Despite the sprawl, it thinks of itself as a town, a provincial way station set between a mountain and a mesa, bisected by the Rio Grande and its verdant cottonwood “bosque”.

Rubén Martínez, Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old West