Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/357

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XVIII.

 

THE GRAND PASEO, CHAPULTEPEC, EL DESIERTO, AND GUADALUPE.

 

SEVENTEEN hundred yards from the Plaza Mayor, the great square of the city of Mexico, stands the bronze statue of Carlos IV., an equestrian figure, which the great Humboldt declared had but one superior, that of Marcus Aurelius. Behind him is the great Alameda, the beautiful forest garden of the city, with its fountains and flowers; from every direction, various avenues lead in from the country, and are blended in the one artery leading to the city,—to the city's heart. One regal arm is extended westward, pointing to the hill and castle of Chapultepec, toward which from the base of the statue extends the grandest avenue in Mexico,—the Paseo de la Reforma.

When Maximilian was in power here, and, conscious of the ill-chosen site of the city, desired to remove it to a better, he chose the wisest course a wise ruler could have done. Commencing near the Alameda, he caused to be constructed the avenues that radiate in different directions from the statue of Carlos IV. Of these, the Paseo de la Reforma was the principal one, for it was to lead to Chapultepec, his favorite resort, and it was to be the centre of the new city of Mexico, being on the highest land about the present city. The length of this magnificent promenade and drive, from the bronze statue to the castle and park of Chapultepec, is 3,750 yards, which, added to that of the street leading to it from the Plaza Mayor, gives 5,450 yards, with a width, including sidewalks, of 170 feet. In its entire length it contains six circular spaces, 400 feet in diameter, for the erection of monuments to eminent men. The first already holds a beautiful composition in marble and bronze, representing Columbus and