Colonia Condesa is a neighborhood like no other, roughly 275 Art Deco buildings in a few square miles. (For the purposes of this post I’m including Colonia Roma and the northern tip of Colonia Escandon).
Art Deco construction in Condesa began in 1927 and reached a peak in 1931. So this is early Art Deco and with it’s old trees and parks, Condesa seems European in feel and appearance–a cross between Shanghai’s French Concession and the Bronx’ Grand Concourse–with unique Mexican details. How’s that for a mix?
In recent years. Condesa has become a sort of Mexican SoHo, home to a mostly young crowd. Ironically, survival of the area’s historic architecture has to do in part with its abandonment. In the 1970s, Condesa residents started moving to newer, more upscale areas like Polanco. On top of this exodus came the massive earthquake of 1985.
Condesa survived remarkably well but nearby Roma was wrecked and the effects spilled over into Condesa. More people left. And with the area considered undesirable, there was no incentive to “modernize” things. You know the rest of the story. Low rents attracted artists and students and gradually things picked up.
At the heart of Condesa is Parque Mexico, with Art Deco buildings fanning out in all directions. While the area isn’t that large, there is so much Art Deco that it isn’t practical to see it all unless, like me, you just have to. But we’re talking about several days worth of walking.
Parque Mexico occupies land that was once a race track. The park is surrounded by two “loops”. The inner loop, at edge of the park is Aveneda Mexico. The outer loop is Avenida Amsterdam. Both streets are rich in Art Deco apartment buildings, from adorable to spectacular. The circular streets are a mixed blessing; keep going and you’ll eventually get back to where you started. On the other hand, it’s easy to lose track of your location in a neighborhood so full of Deco distractions.
At a minimum, you’ll want to see everything on Avenidas Mexico and Amsterdam, east of the park. Most of the streets that bisect Mexico and Amsterdam are great as well. If you have more time, I’d head further east towards Colonia Roma, crossing Av. Insurgentes. Insurgentes is not a beautiful street but if you turn north on it you’ll pass some large streamline buildings before reaching the exceptional “Aztec Deco” Edificio Piccadilly at #309.
Or, instead of turning north, you can continue east on a street like Campeche which has a string of small Deco buildings including some commercial ones. Of course, there’s lots more. Here is Edificio Anahuac at Queretaro #109.
–And what you see here is just a sample.