Thought we want to photograph the Alameda Central from the air (as above), the true enchantment of the park can best be understood in strolling its multiple promenades. Perhaps nowhere has the idea of the repetitiveness of a park laid out geometrically, in the style of a formal garden, more firmly refuted.
The Alameda Central is beloved for its corners. Its confluences and its remarkable shade and light ensure that it plays a central role it plays in the lives of city residents.
Officially created in 1592, it’s the oldest public park in the Americas. The area had been a marketplace in the west of Tenochtitlan. Viceroy Luis de Velasco II ordered that a public green space be created for city residents sometime prior to 1592. Although many cities in Latin America also have alamedas, their names come from this one, and from the Spanish word álamo, meaning poplar tree.
The western half of the park had previously been an open plaza used for the execution of heretics at the height of the inquisition. Only about 30 such executions are believed to have been carried out in all of Mexico. It was likely expanded to its present size by about 1791.
The Statues of the Alameda Central
Within the park are a number of statues, many of them surrounded by recently restored fountains. Among them:
By the time the Mexican war for Independence was won in 1821, the Alameda was open to the public in something like its present form. Gas lamps were installed and these were converted to electric lamps by 1892.
Legend has it that the 1846 triumph of President Santa Anna was celebrated by filling the Alameda’s fountains with alcohol so all the city residents could imbibe.
The 2012 rehabilitation of the park included replacing all of the damaged pavement with marble. A complete replanting of the many gardens included lots of new trees. Many plants are indigenous to the region and the project has broadly been considered a complete success.