Alameda Central

Avenida Hidalgo y Avenida Juárez
Mexico City, Mexico

Submitted by: Julia De Martini Day

A place where people can relax and enjoy the energy of Mexico City without being overwhelmed by it.

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Why It Works

Walking through the bustling streets of Mexico City can be an intimidating experience. Alameda Central is a safe haven where people can relax and enjoy the city's energy without being overwhelmed by it.

What Makes Alameda Central a Great Place?

The diverse activities at the park's wide entrances, ranging from Mexican folk concerts and dance events to crafts' and food markets, draw people in from the sidewalks and the nearby museum, Palacio Bellas Artes. Inside the park, food vendors line the wide, paved walkways that cross the park and intersect at a pavillion in the middle. The park is near the center of the city and is accessible by the metro, buses and walking.

Couples displaying affection, old people sitting on benches, and kids running around lead the park to feel safe and comfortable. Curved, stone benches, both in the sun and shaded by trees, encirlce the gazebo in the center of the park and allow people to chat, observe dance classes and musicians performing in the middle, or watch pedestrian and car traffic pass by on Avenida Juarez.

Activities ranged from couples cuddling on benches and in the grass to musicians performing different types of music at opposite ends of the park to people participating in a dance class. Old and young people utilized the variety of seating options, which ranged from conventional benches to more creative trees-as-back-rests in the grass, to enjoy the diverse aspects of the park.

The park has a calm atmosphere and people sitting alone, with their partners, or with groups of young friends all seemed to have come to the park to relax in a social environment.

History & Background

The Alameda Central began as an Aztec marketplace in the capital city of Tenochtitlan, founded in around 1345. By the mid-1500s under the conquistadors the central location was used to burn heretics at the stake under the Spanish Inquisition. In 1592, the governor of New Spain, Viceroy Luis de Velasco converted the Alameda into a public park and the marshy lands were drained and filled and planted with Poplar trees (Alamos). The park became a popular meeting ground for Spanish new society, and was the site of duels, courting and lively conversation. However, surrounded by a wrought iron fence the park still remained off limits to the general populace.

It was only after Mexican independence and the park was opened to the public that the Alameda Centrale achieved its present day incarnation as a gathering spot for diverse social groups. As modern Mexico City’s largest central park, the Alameda hosts a wide cast of characters including performers, candy sellers, shoe shiners, strollers, organ grinders, pick-nickers, school children, lovers and concert-goers. A downtown oasis of green, the park is surrounded by colonial mansions, cafes, restaurants, retail shops, skyscrapers and museums. Statuary and fountains embellish the landscape, including the famed Juarez Monument, commonly called the Hemiciclo (hemicycle or half-circle). The nearby Museo Mural Diego Rivera houses Diego Rivera’s Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda' (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park), a huge mural painted in 1947 depicting the artist’s impressions of the city’s beloved park.

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