Coyoacán

Coyoacán, D.F.
Delegación
Fountain depicting the drinking coyotes that gave the town its name at the Jardín Centenario
Fountain depicting the drinking coyotes that gave the town its name at the Jardín Centenario
Official seal of Coyoacán, D.F.
Seal
Coyoacán within the Federal District
Coyoacán within the Federal District
Country Mexico
Federal entity D.F.
Established 1928
Named for Pre-Columbian city
Seat Jardín Hidalgo No. 1 Col. Villa Coyoacán, C.P. 04000
Government
 • Jefe delegacional Mauricio Alonso Toledo Gutiérrez (PRD)
Area[1]
 • Total 54.12 km2 (20.90 sq mi)
Elevation[1] 2,256 m (7,402 ft)
Highest elevation 2,420 m (7,940 ft)
Population 2010 [2]
 • Total 620,416
 • Density 11,000/km2 (30,000/sq mi)
Time zone Central Standard Time (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) Central Daylight Time (UTC-5)
Postal codes 04000–04980
Area code(s) 55
Website http://www.coyoacan.df.gob.mx/

Coyoacán (   ) refers to one of the 16 boroughs (delegaciones) of the Federal District of Mexico City as well as the former village which is now the borough’s “historic center.” The name comes from Nahuatl and most likely means “place of coyotes,” when the Aztecs named a pre-Hispanic village on the southern shore of Lake Texcoco which was dominated by the Tepanec people. Against Aztec domination, these people welcomed Hernán Cortés and the Spanish, who used the area as a headquarters during the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire and made it the first capital of New Spain between 1521 and 1523. The village, later municipality, of Coyoacan remained completely independent of Mexico City through the colonial period into the 19th century. In 1857, the area was incorporated into the Federal District when this district was expanded. In 1928, the borough was created when the Federal District was divided into sixteen boroughs. The urban sprawl of Mexico City reached the borough in the mid 20th century, turning farms, former lake and forests into developed areas, but many of the former villages have kept their original layouts, plazas and narrow streets and have conserved structure built from the 16th to the early 20th centuries. This has made the borough of Coyoacan, especially its historic center, a popular place to visit on weekends.

Contents

  • Villa Coyoacán or historic center 1
  • The borough 2
  • Other neighborhoods of the borough 3
    • La Concepción 3.1
    • Santa Catarina 3.2
    • Colonia del Carmen 3.3
    • Churubusco 3.4
    • Pueblo de los Reyes, La Candelaria and other traditional “barrios” 3.5
  • History 4
    • Absorption into the Distrito Federal and twentieth- and twenty-first century developments 4.1
  • Education 5
  • Ciudad Universitaria 6
  • Other landmarks in the borough 7
  • Twinning 8
  • Notable people/residents 9
  • References 10
  • Bibliography 11
  • External links 12

Villa Coyoacán or historic center

Street map of Villa Coyoacán.

To distinguish it from the rest of Coyoacán borough, the former independent community is referred to as Villa Coyoacán or the historic center of the borough. Consisting now of 29 blocks, it is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Mexico City, located 10 km south of the Zocalo (main square) of Mexico City.[3][4][5] This area is filled with narrow cobblestone streets and small plazas, which were laid out during the colonial period,[5] and today give the area a distinct and bohemian identity.[6] The area is filled with mostly single family homes, which were former mansions and country homes built between the colonial period to the mid 20th century. The Project for Public Spaces ranked the neighborhood as one of the best urban spaces to live in North America in 2005 and is the only Mexican neighborhood on the list.[7] This area was designated as a "Barrio Mágico" by the city in 2011.[8]

The center of Coyoacán is relatively peaceful during the week, but it becomes crowded and festive on weekends and holidays.[9] After the Zocalo, the most-visited place in Mexico City is this historic center, especially the twin plazas in its center. According to the borough, the area receives about 70,000 people each weekend.[7] The area is a stop for both the Turibus and Tranvia Turistico tour bus routes, on their routes though San Ángel, Ciudad Universitaria and other locations in the south of Mexico City.[4][10] People come to enjoy the still somewhat rural atmosphere of the area as well as the large number of restaurants, cafes, cantinas, museums, bookstores and other cultural attractions. Some of these businesses have been around for almost a century.[9] In the two main plazas and even in smaller ones such as the one in the neighboring Santa Catarina neighborhood. Mimes, clowns, musicians, folk and indigenous dancers, storytellers and other street performers can be found entertaining crowds.[9] Vendors sell street food such as ice cream, homemade fruit drinks, esquites (flavored corn kernels) and corn-on-the-cob served with mayonnaise, lime, chili pepper and grated cheese, amaranth bars, and various candies. In the evening, food vendors tend to sell more hot items such as quesadillas, sopes, tortas, tostadas, pozoles and more. One known food vendor goes by the name of Rogelio. He is known for making pancakes (called hotcakes) in the shape of animals and humans. These are usually eaten as a snack with jam, cream and other toppings.[9]

Kiosk in Plaza Hidalgo

The tourism has been a mixed blessing for the historic center as commercial establishments open, helping the economy, but also push residents out. In the historic center, there are over 860 retail businesses, mostly restaurants, about 200 of which were established in the last five years. Residents attribute the growth to Mexico City’s promotion of the area tourism in general as well as the opening of commercial centers in the borough. While the growing business helps the economy, resident groups fear that the area will lose its current character, as many businesses are opening in formerly residential buildings, with questionable legal basis. Currently, most of the borough, especially in historic center, is residential with older adults. Property prices are high, leading to sales not to new families but rather to larger commercial interests, squeezing out smaller businesses along with residents. Neighborhood groups have formed to confront the changes and preserve the historic value of the area.[11] Another serious problem for the area is the traffic jams and serious lack of parking in the historic center. The quantity of cars and the lack of traffic patrols have meant the proliferation of “franeleros” or people who illegally take possession of public areas such as streets to charge for parking.[12]

Arcos del Jardín del Centenario
A street in Coyoacán

The historic area is centered on two large plazas filled with Indian laurel trees called the Jardin del Centenario and the Jardín Hidalgo.[5] These plazas cover an area of 24,000m2,[13] which were renovated, along with the areas around them in 2008. The green areas were rehabilitated, and areas were paved with red and black volcanic stone.[13] Renovation of the two plazas and the streets around them cost 88.3 million pesos.[14] For over twenty five years, these plazas, especially Plaza Hidalgo, and the streets around them were filled with vendors (wandering and with stalls). When renovation efforts began, 150 vendors were removed from the plazas proper with about 500 total including the surrounding streets. While the practice was illegal, it had been tolerated by authorities, even though it caused damage to the plazas and caused traffic problems.[14] One of the main goals of the renovation work in 2008 was to remove these vendors and move them to a new crafts bazaar built nearby. Initially, opposition to the removal of the vendors came not only from the vendors themselves, but also from some neighborhood groups and local businesses who feared their removal would hurt tourism.[13][14] When renovation work finished in 2009, police were assigned to the plazas to keep vendors from returning, leading to confrontations, both physically in the plazas and legally in the courts.[14][15] The borough began to issue some permits for vendors, but there was opposition. Eventually, a group representing the vendors obtained a court order to allow forty vendors to return to the plazas, citing the history of tolerating such activity in the past. This order is still opposed by some neighborhood groups, but as of 2010, there are still a limited number of these vendors selling in the plazas.[14]

Plaza Hidalgo, also called Jardín (garden) Hidalgo is the main plaza or square of the borough. It is bordered by Calle Carillo Puerto on the east, Calle Caballocalco on the west, Calle B. Dominguez and the Casa Municipal on the north and the Plaza del Centenario and the Parish is San Juan Bautista on the south.[16] In the center of the plaza, there is an early 20th-century kiosk with a stained glass cupola topped by a bronze eagle.[16][17] This kiosk was donated to the then village by Porfirio Díaz for the then-upcoming Centennial of Mexico’s Independence in 1910. The eagle design is one adopted by Mexico after the French Intervention.[17][18] As the plaza is named after Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a statue of the priest, created by Luis Arias can also be found on the plaza.[17] Behind it is a sculpture carved from a tree trunk called “La Familia de Antonio Alvarez Portual y Josué.[9]

The Plaza del Centenario (also called the Jardín del Centenario) is slightly smaller and located just west of the Plaza Hidalgo, separated by Calle Carrillo Puerto.[16] This plaza originally was part of the very large atrium that belonged to Parish of San Juan Bautista during the colonial period. The main entrance to this atrium still exist on the west side of this plaza and are called the Arcadas Atrial or the Arcos del Jardín del Centenario. This entrance was built in the 16th century of stone with decorative motifs that show both European and indigenous influence. The current name for this area comes from the Centennial of Mexico’s Independence.[17] In the center of the plaza, there is a fountain which contains a bronze sculpture of two coyotes, which refer to the borough’s name.[16] The south side of the plaza is lined with cafes and restaurants, including the well-known Café El Parnaso,[16] and the north side features a very large crafts markets.[19]

Casa Municipal

The Casa Municipal, also referred to as the Casa de Cortés, is a building located on the north side of the Plaza Hidalgo. It has served as an administrative/governmental building since it was constructed in the 18th century.[20] The erroneous name of Casa de Cortés (House of Cortés, referring to Hernán Cortés), comes from Coyoacán’s association with the conquistador. Cortés did live in Coyoacán in 1521 and 1522, while the destroyed Aztec city of Tenochtitlan was being rebuilt into Mexico City, and the area was the capital of the colony of New Spain. However, Cortés never lived at the site, despite a plaque on building that says that he did. Cortés residence in Coyoacán was on lands that belonged to the then leader of the indigenous of this area, Juan de Guzmán Iztolinque, in the area where the La Conchita Church and plaza are found now. What Cortés eventually built here where administrative buildings for the offices used to manage the vast lands he was granted as the Marquis del Valle de Oaxaca, which included the Coyoacán area.[20] Local legend states that this was the location were Cuauhtémoc was tortured as the Spanish tried to learn of the whereabouts of more treasure.[21]

The current structure was built in the mid 18th century, by Cortés’ descendents, who still carried the title of the Marquis of the Valle de Oaxaca to replace the old structure, which had deteriorated.[20][21] In the 1850s, the building began to be used as the seat of the government of the municipality of Coyoacán, which then belonged to the State of Mexico, very separate from Mexico City. When the borough of Coyoacán was created in 1928, as part of the Federal District, the building remained the government seat but of the modern “delegación.” The structure was declared a Colonial Monument by INAH in 1932.[20]

The structure is much the same as it was when it was constructed in the 18th century. The facade is simple and is fronted by a series of columns in sandstone and wood over which is a roof. The door and window jambs are typical of civil constructions of the 18th century with wrought iron work. The facade is topped by a wide cornice and inverted arches. At the very front is a sculpture of two coyotes in volcanic stone, the current logo of the borough. Above the entrance is the coat of arms granted to Coyoacán by Charles IV of Spain.[20][21] On one side of the building is the Sala de Cabildos, or City Council Hall. It was painted by Aurora Reyes Flores with a mural depicting pre-Hispanic Coyoacan and includes depictions of the landscape of the area including the Xitle volcano, the Tepaneca god Xocotlhuetzin as well as the Mesoamerican deity Quetzalcoatl. Next to this hall is an attached chapel. The mural in the chapel was done by Diego Rosales in 1961, depicting the early history of Mexico with personages such as Cuauhtémoc, Cortés, La Malinche and Pedro de Alvarado. Scenes of the work cover the walls and the ceiling.[20]

Parish of San Juan Bautista

One of the most important historic buildings in the borough is the Parish of San Juan Bautista.[4] Built between 152 and 1552, it is one of three oldest parish churches in Mexico City, along with the ones in

  • (Spanish) websiteDelegación CoyoacánOfficial
  • (Spanish) Official page of the Italian Institute of Culture, located in Coyoacán.
  • Mexicocity.com.mx: Coyoacán
  • Ciudad Universitaria map

External links

Bibliography

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  55. ^ Rebecca Horn, Postconquest Coyoacan: Nahua-Spanish Relations in Central Mexico, 1519-1650. Stanford University Press 1997.
  56. ^ Pedro Carrasco and Jesús Monjarás-Ruiz. Colección de documentos sobre Coyoacan. 2 Vols. Mexico: SEP/INAH, Centro de Investigaciones Superiores, Colección Científica Fuentes: Historia Social. No. 39, No. 65. 1976 and 1978.
  57. ^ Miguel León-Portilla, "Códice de Coyoacan: Nómina de tributos, siglo XVI." Estudios de Cultura Náhuatl, 9:57-74.
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