Let’s Tour the Lima and Mexico City of Yesteryear

Lima's Park of the Exposition. Photo: Flickr / Alejandro. CC 2.0.

Every place has a story to tell, but the stories of some places go untold for centuries. Thanks to photography and the speed and reach of the Internet, some of Latin America's oldest stories are now available to everyone.

In this text, Global Voices presents historical photographs from two Latin American cities: Lima and Mexico City, the capitals of the two largest civilizations Spanish conquistadors encountered in the 16th century. It was in these cities, too, that Spanish conquerors established viceroyalties to manage a Latin American empire that would last three centuries.

The photograph above depicts the Park of the Exposition in Lima, located where the Gate of Guadalupe used to stand, on the south side of the Walls of Lima. When the walls were demolished, the park was built on that same location with the Exhibition Palace at one side, where you can currently find Lima's Museum of Art.

Below is a picture of La Colmena (“The Hive”) Avenue, which currently goes by the name of late 19th century President Nicolás de Piérola, was located at the southern limit of what's known now as Damero de Pizarro (“Pizarro's Checkerboard”). After years of decline, now it's a commercial zone.

Antigua avenida Colmena, hoy llamada avenida Nicolás de Piérola. Imagen en Flickr del usuario ::Alejandro::. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Old La Colmena Avenue in 1946, currently named Nicolás de Piérola Avenue. Photo: Flickr / Alejandro. CC 2.0.

The Limean district of Miraflores is a residential and commercial area, and home to many tourist spots. The photograph below, taken in 1980, shows the local main square.


Old Miraflores Main Square. Photo: Flickr / Municipalidad de Miraflores. CC 2.0.

In this image, San Martín Square and Gran Hotel Bolívar stand in the distance. San Martín Square is located at Nicolás de Piérola Avenue, within the zone declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1988. The Gran Hotel Bolívar is located on one of its sides.

Calle Portada de Belén, década de 1940. imagen en Flickr del usuario leondeurgel (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Portada de Belén (Facade of Bethlehem) Street, 1940s. Photo: Leon Deurgel / Flickr / CC 2.0.

In Lima, it's said that the only person capable of facing up to José de San Martín is Simón Bolívar—both larger-than-life figures of the region's history who led independence movements in Peru.

Independence leaders are an important component to identity throughout Latin America. While Simón Bolívar is seen as the historic leading figure par excellence in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia, it's José de San Martín who's considered the most important historic leading figure in Chile and Argentina.

Decisive battles fought during Peru's independence movement are largely responsible for how these leaders are remembered today. This is how the tradition was born, and—as Limean people like to say—that's how the hotel got its name.

There are more photos available at the Facebook page Lima Antigua.

A Nostalgic View of Mexico's Capital

For photos of Mexico City, the Facebook page La Ciudad de México en el Tiempo (“Mexico City Along Time”) offers images of a city that is no longer there, but for its photographic remnants.

The photograph below, taken in 1928, depicts the old Hombres Ilustres (“Illustrious Men”) Avenue, currently Hidalgo Avenue. It currently hosts Mexico's Tax Administration Service, and leads to Valerio Trujano Street.

La Avenida de los Hombres Ilustres, hoy llamada Hidalgo. Imagen de la página de Facebook La Ciudad de México en el Tiempo.

Avenida de los Hombres Ilustres (Ilustrious Men avenue), currently Hidalgo. Photo: La Ciudad de México en el Tiempo page / Facebook

The next photograph shows the corner of 20 de Noviembre and Venustiano Carranza avenues, also in Mexico City. On the left, there is the Church of San Bernardo, and on the south side is Constitution Square, known as the Zócalo.

Esquina de 20 de Noviembre y Venustiano Carranza, finales de los años 60. Imagen de la página de Facebook La Ciudad de México en el Tiempo.

Corner of 20 de Noviembre and Venustiano Carranza, late 1960s. Photo: La Ciudad de México en el Tiempo page / Facebook

The next photo was taken in 1967 at the intersection of Balderas, Arcos de Belén, and Chapultepec, when the city's metro has just begun operating. To the left, we see Arena México, known as the “Cathedral of Mexican lucha libre” (wrestling), and part of Televicentro, now Televisa Chapultepec.

Cruce de Balderas, Arcos de Belén y Chapultepec. imagen de la página de Facebook La Ciudad de México en el Tiempo.

The intersection of Balderas, Arcos de Belén, and Chapultepec. Photo: La Ciudad de México en el Tiempo page / Facebook

This last photograph shows Bucareli Avenue in 1978. (It's no longer a two-way road.) To the left, we see the El Universal newspaper building and to the right the Excélsior newspaper building. The building in the background, on the corner with Morelos, was demolished after the 1985 earthquake.

La avenida Bucareli en 1978. Imagen de la página de Facebook La Ciudad de México en el Tiempo.

Bucareli Avenue in 1978. Image from Facebook page La Ciudad de México en el Tiempo.

There are more photos available at the Facebook page La Ciudad de México en el Tiempo.

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