Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wandering around the Reforma

Today was a dreary, overcast day...  not the best for sightseeing or photography.  I wasn't sure where I should go, or if I should just stay in the apartment.  Finally around noon, I hopped on the Metrobus.  It was especially crowed, as bad as the subway at rush hour.

I got off at the Reforma stop,  just a block away from the city's most famous boulevard, the Paseo de la Reforma.  Near the bus stop is this monument... the Monument to Motherhood.

Mexican men tend to idolize their mothers, so it's not surprising that many cities will have monuments to motherhood.  Mérida in the Yucatán has a monument which is very tender and human.  The massive Mexico City monnument, however, looks like something out of Soviet Russia.  The mother and child appear rather intimidating.  (At the base of the monument we can see a couple of homeless men sleeping on the pavement.)

I walked over to the Paseo de la Reforma, a wide, tree-line boulevard dominated by modern skyscrapers.

The boulevard was laid out in the 1860's during the reign of Emperor Maximilian, and connected the heart of the city with his residence at Chapultepec Castle. (It was originally called the Boulevard of Illustrious Men, but after the emperor's defeat, it was renamed to honor the reform laws of Maximilian's nemesis, President Benito Juárez.)  It's hard to believe that at one time this busy thoroughfare was on the undeveloped fringe of the city.  In the late 1800's, the well-to-do built elegant mansions along the Reforma.  Only a few of them remain today.

                                                  This former mansion now houses a bank.

                       This mansion is being restored and integrated into the neighboring office tower.

The house appears to be empty.  The sign on the fence says that it is the property of the United States Embassy (visible to the left).  It would be nice if our embassy would spruce it up and put it to use.

One of the newer skyscrapers along the boulevard is simply known by its address... 222 Reforma.

At the street level of "222 Reforma" is a three story shopping mall.  The Mexican retailers are as bad as those in the United States.  The mall is already decked out for Christmas.

The Paseo de la Reforma is studded with monuments.  The most impressive is the Monument to Mexican Independence.  Just as the Eiffel Tower is the symbol of Paris, and Big Ben the symbol of London, this monument is probably the most iconic structure in Mexico City.

The monument was built in 1910 to commemorate the centennial of Mexico's independence.  Because of the golden winged victory at the top of the column, the monument is commonly called "El Angel".

Around the base of the column are statues of the heroes of Mexico's independence, including (in the center) the parish priest, Miguel Hidalgo, who began the revolt against Spanish rule on September 16, 1810.  The remains of Hidalgo and the other insurgents are buried within the monument.

                        Looking down the Paseo de la  Reforma from the Independence Monument

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