My dear friend, the late Robert H. Martin, captured this photo of the Santa Fe plaza. Hard to believe that cars were able to park right on the town square back then. It’s images like these that capture the essence of the capitol city. We’re for ever indebted to people like Bob Martin who left such an indelible mark in providing a time capsule of the past.
Population Growth in Santa Fe
The population of Santa Fe grew significantly during World War II. From the people working on the Manhattan Project to returning G.I.s, Santa Fe was suddenly on the map. When WWII began Robert H. Martin joined the army and became the photographer for the Zenith Radio Corporation, one of the major defense contractors for the government. By 1946 he was hired by Los Alamos National Laboratory as the official photographer of this nation’s top-secret nuclear projects. The Chicago native married Manuelita Ortiz y Pino, a member of one of New Mexico’s most prominent Hispanic families. In addition to his work at the Lab, he spent decades documenting Santa Fe culture and history.
Aftermath of War
Robert H. Martin retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1970s when he came down with cancer from the radiation that he had been exposed to during his work there. Martin is believed to be one of the longest survivors of radiation-exposed cancer. He died in Santa Fe in 2004 at the age of 83. Martin took this self-portrait shortly before his death.