Monday, June 15, 2009

Merida Then...and Now

Sometimes good fortune falls in your lap and you just have to share it.  This good fortune came from a co-worker of mine, Armando, who was sent a series of old photographs of Merida by his sister.  And he shared them with me.  Another co-worker, Tony Pacheco, suggested that I give him my camera and he would take pictures showing what these areas of Merida look like today for contrast.  And that's how I'm going to share them with you.  The time of the old photos is in question.  Some came from the early 20's I'm sure.  Others, by historical dates, are earlier.  But rather than try to pin that aspect down, I think it's just fun to look at the city and what is gone...and still here.  If you double-click on these to enlarge them, you'll see more detail.

This is a favorite of mine because it utilizes two then-emerging technologies:  Powered flight and aerial photography.  An amazing picture when you consider all that.
Of course the most predominate feature is the cathedral and Plaza Grande.

 This is a shot of Calle 65 and 56 which at the time was known as "la paseo de las bonitas" or the beautiful ladies walk.
 And how it looks today...
 If you've been in el Centro, it's a good bet you've ventured into the Mercado Lucas de Galvez.  If you haven't, you should because it's an all out assault on most human senses: sound, sight, smell.  As it looked in the 20's...
 This entrance is long gone, but if you look in the background, you'll see los Portales.  They are still there...
 Here is a look at the army which was stationed at what is now the San Benito market.  If you look in the distance you can see what is now the mercado pictured above.  The lower part of the tall, black water tower is still there.  Since this is a shot of Benito Juarez with the troops it has to date pre-twentieth century.

 See that building in the background center?  The first floor is still standing and in use...
 On the west side of the main plaza, across from the cathedral, is the municipal building known as El Olimpo.  This is how it looked in the 20's..
 And it's still there today, or so I thought.  It turns out this building was torn down to make a parking lot.  And the version we see today is a replica.  Here it is..
 The main cathedral is arguably the most historic building in el Centro.  This is a look at the interior and alter at the turn of the last century.  Very ornate, lots of gold.
 Today, much more subdued....
 There are probably many reasons for the transformation, not the least of which occurred during the Mexican revolution in 1915 when a Communist general by the name of Salvador Alverez set fire to the cathedral.  And all the gold went missing.  Here is a picture of the aftermath...
The church remained closed for 15 years as repairs were being made.
Here is a look at the north side covered in vines back then...
 And today...
 Directly south of the church is an alley that is the home of artisans selling crafts to the tourists.  And to the south of that, the Macay Museum.  But it wasn't always so.  A look at pasaje a la revolucion and the roof, now gone, cristales y hierro (crystal and iron):
And today...
The army use to be headquartered next to this alley...This is probably the best contrasting shot of this whole exercise..
Now the Macay museum...
The Hotel Madrid...Calle 63 y 64..
Today....
Calle 65 y 60....


 Today, the Del Sol...
The Bank of Mexico...Calle 59 y 56..
It was torn down and replaced with this unattractive, utilitarian, Banamex building..
Finally, a look at Santiago Park and the Nicolas Bravo Elementary School..
These days, people gather in the park on Tuesday nights to dance under the stars to a big band orchestra.  And the school is still there.  And it's still the Nicolas Bravo Elementary School, proving that some things in this world remain the same even as the inevitable changes go on all around them.
Thanks to my friends Tony and Armando for their help with this.

More later,
Larry



 

12 comments:

On Mexican Time said...

WOW - what a fantastic post!

I can't believe how much changed, and how much didn't... The banamex is one of the most disappointing!

Anyways, VERY cool!

Ray said...

Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

Paul said...

Larry, I really enjoyed these photos, especially the old one of the plaza. The city seems so small then. It looked like you could see the edges of town.

Thanks for taking the time to do this.

Joanne said...

What a great post - thanks for sharing those photos with us.

Malcolm said...

Ver cool LB...great work.

norm said...

Very nice work on this post, a good history is never easy. THANKS...

Susan said...

Thanks for providing a portal to step back in time! I’m with OMT, the Banamex change is disappointing. It’s too bad that they didn’t preserve the original appearance of the Mercado, too. In the photo of the Hotel Madrid, you can clearly see old trolley lines. Do you know if any of the old cars are still in existence, perhaps in a museum?

Larry said...

Susan,
Good question on the trolley cars. Maybe someone reading this can tell us. You can see them quite clearly in the very last picture of the elementary school.

Ron said...

Wonderful post!!

Thanks so much

Victor said...

Muchas gracias Larry for these pictures...ah, the nostalgia of days long gone!!

Mexicachica said...

Wonderful post! I really enjoyed looking at all those old pictures but was saddened to see that some were torn down and replaced.

Thanks for sharing!

EJA said...

Thanks for this delightful post. I love Merida history.

I may be wrong, but I don't believe the photo of the military is of Benito Juarez. I don't recall Juarez ever came to Yucatan. In fact, I believe it was Porfirio Diaz in 1906 who was the first Mexican president to visit Merida.

That said, the photo does look pre-20th century.