The Escandón neighborhood was home to the country’s first grand bourgeois class, which boomed in the Porfirian Era. Situated next to Tacubaya and Condesa neighborhoods, it belonged to the family whose name it bears. The land where it now lives was part of the enormous Hacienda de la Condesa, which belonged to that prosperous family.
One of its attractive features is that several dissimilar styles were combined by chance and today they charmingly stand out among the general architecture, as buildings of styles such as Art Déco, Californian Colonial and Neocolonial. It was also the first neighborhood that in the 1930s, built the city’s first housing estate of.
It is famous because seafood stalls and bars suddenly emerged, making it incredibly appealing. Some of the most iconic bars in town are here; taking a stroll, especially along its popular José Martí Street, will bring you a culinary experience and a memorable feeling of what last century’s Mexican nightlife was like.
These are some other of the most emblematic places of Escandón neighborhood:
Martí building: it was built at the beginning of the 1930s in an Art Deco style. It was a very innovative and unusual building for its time and was built for people with ample resources who would share a public garden at the base of the construction.
José Martí Street: it is probably the most relevant street in the neighborhood; since most of its appeal is found here. Its seafood restaurants, beer joints and bars are legendary.
The Roldán Sandoval Cultural Center: it is a theater built by a couple, Fred Roldán and Lupita Sandoval, who created their own space due to the high rents of the more traditional theatres. It was born as a product of devotion to this art.
Morelos Garden: there is space for skateboarders and cultural events take place in this tree-covered area.
El Fuerte de la Colonia Bar: it was founded in the 1980s, but its present owners adopted it with the same name as the plaque of its original foundation, in 1946.It is one of those bars where it is not unlike seeing whole families enjoying a classic jukebox. One of the most famous bars in Mexico.
Faro del Saber: located in the center of Jardín Morelos. A building that was built some years ago to promote reading; it has a library and cultural and social workshops are imparted within.
Mercado sobre ruedas: a travelling market installed every Tuesday on José Martí Street, very popular for its mixiote (seasoned barbecued mutton).
La Pirata Pulque Bar: very classic, with tiles on the walls and pulque storage barrels. This beverage is served in glass jars. It has a jukebox and offers snacks with molcajete-made salsas.
Santa Fe is one of those “new, new, new” areas in the west of Mexico City. So new that lots of Mexico City residents have never been there, and many of them will never go. But Santa Fe is, like all of Mexico City, loaded with history and curious facts that make it always worth looking into a little deeper.
During the long colonial period, the area was devoted to grazing animals and mining the relatively poor soil. The regions was divided into the towns of Santa Fe, Santa Lucia, San Mateo and San Pedro Tlaltenango Cuajimalpa. The villages were intersected by the Royal Road, New Spain’s first toll road that ran all the way to Toluca (and still does). Today it’s still known as the Vasco de Quiroga highway and the toll booth is still located in the nearby Contadero neighborhood.
Named in honor of the first bishop of Michoacan’s “Hospital of Santa Fe,” Vasco de Quiroga was that famous friar who taught different skills to the various peoples of Michoacan. He also started numerous hospitals that provided not only for the sick but for pilgrims and travelers.
Upon arriving in New Spain, Vasco de Quiroga took a look at the sorrowful state of things and got to work. Sent as a sort of a judge of the “Second Audiencia of Mexico,” which ruled from 1530 – 1534, he ended up founding both the Hospital and the Pueblo Santa Fe with his own money. Vasco de Quiroga’s believed primarily that charity would be the only way he could really make a difference. His attempt to redeem the fallen landscape led him to undertake no less than the founding of Thomas More’s Utopia, right here on Earth.
Within a few years, the hospital was itself called Pueblo Santa Fe, literally the “people of Santa Fe.” And after 1532, the project essentially took on a life of its own and began to expand to other congregations and to form similar hospitals and social charity projects wherever it went. Quiroga maintained control over nearly all of them and enforced a set of rules he’d written down himself.
Some of the rules still carry Quiroga’s idea of exactly how this was to translate into a Utopia on Earth. According to notes in the collection of the Institute of Historical Research of the University of Michoacan, “Parents should ensure the marriages of their children with daughters from other families in the same Pueblo-Hospital. Failing that the daughters of the poor from the same neighborhood could also be married.” Men were considered marriageable at fourteen, and women at twelve. In the extended family, all members were required to obey the eldest grandfather. Wives were to obey husbands, and children were to serve and obey parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Any need for servants from outside the family was to be avoided.
Santa Fe is said to be the remnant of that famous Utopian village. The ostentatious city of today grew up from the ashes of that early attempt at a perfect society. And though many Chilangos will still find it hard to believe, something of that hope and vision is likely still evident in the towers and underpasses that stand there today.