Oaxaca mural

Oaxaca mural

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Street Names

Whenever I am walking around Mexico City or driving with my friend Alejandro, I always find it interesting to pay attention to the names of the streets.  Many of the "colonias" or neighborhoods have a theme for their street names.

In the neighborhoods of Condesa and Roma the streets offer a lesson in Mexican geography.  Most of them are named after Mexican states and cities, and a few are named after mountain peaks.  Here you will find Avenidas Veracruz,  Michoacán, or Tamaulipas, Calles Laredo, Jalapa, or Celaya, and Calles Citlaltépetl, Popocatépetl or Iztaccíhuatl (Mexico's three highest mountains).  There are a few exceptions to that theme. Six streets, which head in the direction of Chapultepec Park, are named after the "Boy Heroes", the six teenaged cadets who died in the Battle of Chapultepec.  There is also the street on which I have stayed on my last several trips to Mexico City... Avenida Amsterdam.

One would expect Avenida Amsterdam to be located not in the Condesa neighborhood, but in the "Zona Rosa".  There the streets are named after European cities, and have names such as Hamburgo, Liverpool and Copenhague.  If you travel north from the "Zona Rosa" you will find yourself in a neighborhood where the streets are named after rivers.  There are Río Amazonas, Río Danubio, and Río Tiber, to name a few.

Over in the ritzy district of Polanco, the streets bear the names of scientists, writers and philosophers.  Galileo, Tennyson, and Rousseau are a few the people honored there.  I must admit that some of the names seemed rather obscure to me.  I had never heard of the German dramatist Hermann Sudermann, the French historian Hippolyte Taine or the Italian poet Torquato Tasso.

When I return to Mexico City in April, I will be staying in the neighborhood of Nápoles.  Here the streets are named after states and cities in the United States... Nebraska, Kansas, Rochester, Filadelfia.  My apartment will be on Texas (pronounced TAY-hahs in Spanish).  Wouldn't it have been ironic if the apartment had been on Ohio, my home state?

In the historic center of the city, the street names are a mixed bag.  Some of the streets are named after heroes of Mexican history (Francisco Madero, Ignacio Allende) or famous dates in Mexican history (5 de Mayo, 16 de Septiembre).  But a recurring theme is Latin American nations (República de Cuba, República de Colombia, República de Guatemala, etc.).

In the neighborhood where Alejandro lives, the streets are all named after Mexican port cities.  Across town where he works, they are named after Mexican beaches. Then if you travel a short distance from the "beaches" district, the streets are named after professions.  Here you have "Economistas", “Cardiólogos”, and “Geólogos”.  Can you imagine living on "Calle Urólogos" (Urologists' Street)?!!


  1. Interesting, I did not know any of this. Somehow, at some time, I think I have stayed on Amsterdam. Thanks for the info....

    1. Amsterdam runs in a large oval (it follows the course of a race track that used to be there), and in the middle of the avenue there is a tree-lined pedestrian walkway. A very pretty street.