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Road to Ruin
Police are frequent visitors to the motels, responding to thousands of crimes in recent years.

A Port in the Storm
Some motels resist the drug dealers and prostitutes, providing a haven for working-class families.

Down the Road
The future of the motels includes nostalgia, reuse and, perhaps, bulldozers.

Central Motels Slide Show
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Related Links
N.M. Route 66 Association

Database of Motel-Related Crime
This database includes records of about 3,500 res filed between Jan. 1, 1997 and Dec. 31, 1999 by Albuquerque police. All of the reports list the address of a Central Avenue motel.
That doesn't mean that each of these reported crimes occured inside the motels. Some did. Others may have been in the parking lot or on the street in front of the motel.
Traffic offenses and other minor offenses, such as disorderly conduct, are not included in this database.




A woman who says she is a prostitute smokes a cigarette under the glow of the lights from the American Inn on Central Avenue.


American tourists used to speed along Route 66, the famed mother road connecting the Midwest to California. In Albuquerque, they rested at the dozens of motels that lined Central Avenue. But Interstate 40 soon left the motels in the shadows, and now they're magnets for drug dealing and prostitution. How bad is the crime and what, if anything, can the city do about it? Journal reporter Scott Smallwood explores these questions in a three-part series.

DAY 1
The Seamy Side of 66
Police crackdowns at the Sand & Sage Motel and the Relax Inn made headlines in the past year as authorities shut down places they described as open-air markets for drugs and sex. But most daily incidents at many of the older motels along Central Avenue get less attention.
Full Story

  • Crackdown on Motels
  • Motel Slayings

    Lodge Owner Turns Away 'Street Trash'
    Decades ago Central Avenue was a two-lane road that seemed to trail off to nothing east of Wyoming Boulevard. That's how Pauline Bauer remembers it. (September 3)

    Ownership Connections Make Accountability Difficult
    A complex web of about two dozen people connects more than half the motels along Central Avenue. (September 3)

    DAY 2
    A Port in the Storm for Some
    Some Central Avenue motels that once catered to Route 66 tourists are beseiged by prostitutes and drug dealers. But the strip is also home to owners and residents trying to make a decent life.
    Full Story

    Homey Atmosphere Sets Aztec Apart
    Mohamed Natha sounds like a grandfather reciting a long list of offspring as he rattles off the names of people staying at his Aztec Motel. (September 4)

    DAY 3
    Nostalgia, New Uses Could Salvage Central Motels
    When talk turns to the future of Central Avenue motels, optimists say they should take advantage of Route 66 nostalgia.
    Full Story