The Parque Tlacoquemécatl is more popularly known as Parque Tlaco, for obvious reasons. In the very northeast of the neighborhood of the same name, it borders the more user-friendly-named neighborhoods of Del Valle IV (north) and V (east). The park is also known as the Jardín del Arte Tlacoquemécatl. This name is for the weekend art exhibitions held within the park. Less frequently, it’s named for the Señor del Buen Despacho Church, too.
The Nahuatl name “Tlacoquemécatl” means “place abundant in tlacotl.” Tlacotle includes a number of plants of the genus jarilla, desert scrub bushes important for making arrows.
Today’s park is on land once part of the Hacienda de Santa Anita. This was but one of several large agricultural estates, among the others were the Haciendas of San Borja, Santa Cruz, and Tlacoquemécatl. These bordered the towns of San Lorenzo to the south and Mixcoac to the southwest.
By the late 19th century, the estates were nearly all cultivating fruit in giant orchards. The Colonia Del Valle name came with a tram stop which began operating here in 1913. It connected today’s City Center, then Mexico City, with Mixcoac. The park actually dates from 1958 . President Adolfo López Mateos expropriated some of the church land, and some from the Santa Anita estate, to declare the area a park.
The Tlacoquemécatl Church sacristy is preserved from an original hermitage believed to date from the 16th century. A similar date can be ascribed to the atrial cross. This is of particular interest for the clearly indigenous carvings. However, the church itself has been modified multiple times over the centuries as is evident from its relatively modern appearance. Inside, it’s still a wonderful place to visit.
Curiously, el Señor del Buen Despacho can be understood as a peculiarly Mexican aspect of the Christ figure. Our Lord of the Prompt Dispatch, as his title might be interpreted, seems to originate with a side chapel in the Metropolitan Cathedral. A gift to the church from Spanish King Carlos V, the figure is said to most quickly deliver petitions submitted by supplicants. The side chapel replaced an earlier chapel long maintained by the very wealthy guild of silversmiths. The guild and its generous support were dissolved in 1867. Thus, the patronage may reflect that rather desperate moment for the cathedral.