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Alamogordo, New Mexico

Alamogordo is a city located in Otero County, New Mexico. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 35,582. The city name is Spanish, and means "Fat Cottonwood" It is the county seat of Otero County6.

Table of contents
1 Geography
2 Demographics
3 Atari Burial Grounds
4 Grave of Ham, First Chimp in Space


Alamogordo is located at 32°53'45" North, 105°57'8" West (32.895940, -105.952134)1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 50.1 km² (19.4 mi²). 50.1 km² (19.4 mi²) of it is land and none of the area is covered with water.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 35,582 people, 13,704 households, and 9,729 families residing in the city. The population density is 710.0/km² (1,839.0/mi²). There are 15,920 housing units at an average density of 317.7/km² (822.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 75.35% White, 5.58% African American, 1.05% Native American, 1.53% Asian, 0.17% Pacific Islander, 12.07% from other races, and 4.25% from two or more races. 31.99% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 13,704 households out of which 36.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.6% are married couples living together, 11.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 29.0% are non-families. 25.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.8% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.57 and the average family size is 3.07.

In the city the population is spread out with 28.7% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 29.7% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 97.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 94.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $30,928, and the median income for a family is $35,673. Males have a median income of $28,163 versus $18,860 for females. The per capita income for the city is $14,662. 16.5% of the population and 13.2% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 23.9% are under the age of 18 and 11.8% are 65 or older.

Atari Burial Grounds

In 1983, with the video game industry they had helped create crashing down around their ears, Atari warehouses were filled with millions of unsold game cartridges they had optimistically overproduced, including 5 million "E.T." cartridges. Basing a video game on a movie rather than an established arcade hit or a tested game premise (and expecting it to sell simply because of the popularity of the film) was a questionable enough decision, but the sheer awfulness of the finished product was unprecedented. Atari rushed "E.T." through development in a matter of months to get it onto the market in time for Christmas, and the result was a virtually unplayable game with a dull plot and crummy graphics in which frustrated players spent most of their time leading the E.T. character around in circles to prevent him from falling into pits. According to Atari's then-president and CEO, "nearly all of them came back."

Some other video game manufacturers attempted to rid themselves of excess inventory by selling it at sharply reduced prices, but Atari, stuck with millions of games and consoles -- along with prototypes and limited runs of experimental Atari 2600 hardware like the ridiculous Mindlink system, a control method for the 2600 based on mind-control -- that were largely unsellable at any price, sent fourteen truckloads of merchandise from their plant in El Paso, Texas, to be dumped in a city landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico in late September 1983. In order to keep the site from being looted, steamrollers crushed and flattened the games, and a concrete slab was poured over the remains.

Grave of Ham, First Chimp in Space

Ham was the world's first astrochimp, trumpeted by the United States as "the first free creature in outer space". He blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida on January 31, 1961, and traveled 155 miles in 16.5 minutes before splashing down safely in the Atlantic. The first American human to orbit the earth, John Glenn, was rewarded with a seat in the United States Senate. Ham's reward was an apple.

After Ham died in 1983 at age 27, Ham's body was shipped west, and is buried in the front lawn of the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, under the first slab of natural-tone concrete poured in Otero County.