This diverse area of beautiful landscapes, relaxed rural atmosphere, and deeply rooted heritage has been transforming in recent decades into a suburban setting. The more highly urbanized northern neighborhoods near Central Avenue in the Atrisco area blend into semi-urban sections that give way to open rural ranchos of Pajarito and Los Padillas. South Valley stretches over nearly 40 square miles, making up more than one-third of the Albuquerque metropolitan area. Some residents have owned land in this region for decades or even generations, and the evidence of early inhabitants is still found in place names and cultural traditions. Albuquerque's urban sprawl has been heavily influencing the South Valley since the 1960s, continually reducing the number of agricultural properties that once dotted the region. Still, many homes enjoy spacious lots or generous acreage.