Exploring Polanco

Architecture, residence, house, neighborhood, history

In the beginning, Polanco it was Neo-Baroque

Located just north of Chapultepec Park, Polanco is one of the most dynamic areas of the city where you can find sophisticated hotels, restaurants and the best shops in the city. Polanco is a residential area that, since the 1940s, experienced a constructive fever of large mansions and luxurious apartment buildings. Its strategic position in the city has gradually turned it into a business and commercial area. The pleasant cosmopolitan atmosphere of Polanco has also attracted the best gastronomic creators to please demanding palates.

architecture, Mexico City, Polanco, Serrano, 1945

Traditional shopping center in the heart of Polanco

Sordo Madaleno, shopping, corporate, Polanco, office

Polanco, optimism and elegance

By Roberto Escartín


History

During the 1930s, the lands belonging to the old San Juan de los Morales hacienda were divided up, taking advantage of the lands of the Polanco and Anzures ranches, which gave these Colonies in the west of Mexico City their name. In the XIX century, these lands, of more than 1,500 hectares, belonged to Ana Lascurain de Cuevas Rubio, who inherited them from her son Eduardo Cuevas Rubio y Lascurain. The first urbanization, North of the Polanco River (which gave the colony its name), had an extension of 18 hectares.


At the beginning of the XX century, population growth exerted pressure for the conversion of haciendas and ranches for urbanization to the West and South of the city. Roma and after Condesa-Hippodrome neighborhoods were the example to follow. Polanco offered great advantages for its flat, firm and well-drained land, which attracted the attention of investors: Raúl Basurto, promoter of the project, and José G. and Raoul de la Lama, urban planners. The urban furniture and services were designed by the architect Enrique Aragón Echegaray and the engineer Francisco Lasso. The urban grid plan extended from East to West and the course of the river became the tree-lined Campos Elíseos Avenue running in the South side, just in front of Chapultepec park.


The first homes were built after 1938 around Angela Peralta Park (called by the colonists “of the mirrors” for their water basins, today called Lincoln and Luther King), in which they are superb residences and elegant buildings, which later spread to the West, beyond Molière Ave. It was followed by the sector spreading along the Campos Elíseos towards the Mariano Escobedo Avenue. Finally, the neighborhood expanded greatly north of Presidente Masaryk, crossed by the broad Horacio and Homero avenues, ending in Ejército Nacional causeway. In this sector the temple of San Agustín was built, designed by the architect Leonardo Noriega, the French Pasteur school, the Franco-Mexican high school and the National Conservatory of Music, the latter two works by the architect Mario Pani. A notable feature is the nomenclature of its streets, which were named after famous writers and scientists, making some corners startle if we take the analogy seriously.




Polanco’s Unique Style

The first large houses had a "Californian Colonial" style that came to fruition in Polanco, inspired by Baroque covers and altars of New Spain gave a distinctive stamp to the colony, which somehow emulated Hollywood’s, but which had been born in Mexico as a decorative trend that emerged from the nationalist ideas of Minister José Vasconcelos in the 1920s. The ostentatious façades and window frames were profusely decorated in stone carvings, sparing no cost. The novelty was to place gardens in front and "halls" inside, with large interiors. The most notable neo-baroque houses were designed by the architects Eduardo Fuhrken, Francisco López Guerra and Shafik Kaim. Today, some of these houses function as boutiques and it is not uncommon to find them painted in pastel colors or covered in glass. Elegance had settled in Polanco, and its proud inhabitants flaunted it. Inside these houses, French refinement was combined with the modern American comfort to generate the peculiar scenographic style of these residences, even more so when the diva of Mexican cinema, María Félix, moved here.


Polanco was the favorite place for the Lebanese and Spanish immigrants who left the city center to live in this new "colony". The first houses belonged to important entrepreneurs and high governmental officials. During the 1940s Jewish families began to arrive in Polanco and they managed to prosper in the city center. These and other inhabitants not only had more resources, a higher educational level than the average, but, in cafes in front of the park, parties and gatherings conveyed an optimism and security that still prevails in Polanco. This way of being is expressed in the architecture of buildings such as the 30-story towers of Residencial del Bosque, designed by César Pelli, the refined building of the National Museum of Anthropology, by Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, the challenging building of Seguros Monterrey by Enrique de la Mora, or the patio-garden of the Goldsmith residential, by Pascal Arquitectos and the emblematic Soumaya museum, by Fernando Romero Arquitectos.



In the first three decades of its development, Polanco had some basic commercial services, aimed at its inhabitants, but with the crises that Mexico City experienced after the 1985 earthquakes, metropolitan businesses moved here. Since then Polanco has been the seat of commercial innovation, luxury shops and sophisticated services. In Polanco there are some embassies, art galleries with a long history such as Misrachi, Oscar Roman, López Quioga and Juan Martín; corporate buildings such as the Omega tower, luxurious international brand stores, high-class hotels and the offices of the Ministry of Tourism. The attractiveness of the area has led to the constant opening of new restaurants, especially signature restaurants and trendy concepts, a list that is expanding daily. Despite part of the Jewish community migrated to other areas, synagogues Magen David, Bet Itzjak, Beth-El y Brit Braja are still active.


The most significant commercial space was designed since 1945 by the engineer Francisco Serrano is the Pasaje Polanco, which was part of the plan in the original urbanization. The concept of open streets, like a small functional town, has at its center a spheric sundial. From this labyrinth of boutiques, commercial life radiates, in constant renewal through the streets of Virgilio, Oscar Wilde and Julio Verne, to the degree that the inhabitants name this area “Polanquito”, populated by gastronomic temptations and tables on the sidewalk for coffee or Informal meals come alive at sunset with martini glasses and Mexican wine tastings. In contrast, the closed space of the department store El Puerto de Liverpool, gives the eastern area a more corporate feature, which is accentuated by the presence of the offices of large companies. At the western end, however, El Palacio de Hierro department store stands tall, announcing the entrance to the new XXI century shopping area, whose fulcrums are Antara and Plaza Carso.



Choices for a pleasant stay

The first large hotel to be built in Polanco was the Presidente Intercontinental, which was followed by others who took advantage of the view of Chapultepec park, the vicinity of the National Auditorium, the Bosque Cultural Center and the communication routes with the city center and the industrial zone in the north of the city. This is how the area of large hotels emerged, followed by the Nikko (today Hyatt Regency), the JW Marriott and the Hotel W. This enclave led to the appearance of restaurants and bars that joined those of Lincoln Park to create a wide area tourist services. The set even forms a profile that characterizes this area of the city. In 2000, the talented architects of Bernardo Gómez-Pimienta and Enrique Norten redesigned a building from the 1950s to make it the attractive Habita Hotel. In our century, the trend is towards small, exclusive lodgings and boutique hotels scattered throughout the colony.


The design of these hotels agrees with Polanco's vocation for good taste. On Presidente Masaryk Avenue there are designer’s shops such as Tane featuring the best designs in silver, ceramics have their traditional exponent in Talavera Uriarte (Galileo 67), textiles look splendid in Onora (Lope de Vega 300 ) and the luxurious antiques congregate under the magic eye of Rodrigo Rivero Lake (Campos Elíseos 105), the Mexican design is located in Esrawe (Alejandro Dumas 161), the same address where the voluptuous Xinú perfumes concentrate; in Studioroca you can admire delicate design pieces (Horacio 907), while in Tienda MAP you can get excellent high-quality Mexican handicrafts. The small David Alfaro Siquerios Museum (Tres Picos No.29) is a cultural center that honors the memory of the controversial artist of the 20th century. If you are passionate about museums, very close to Polanco you can visit some important ones such as the Rufino Tamayo Contemporary Art Museum, the superb National Anthropology Museum, the Mexico City’s Modern Art, and the amazing Children's Museum called "Papalote".


Sources

• Villalobos de Castillo Mena, Gloria T., Yo Polanco, Comité Editorial del Gobierno del Distrito Federal, México, 1999.

• Fierro Grossman, Rafael, La gran corriente ornamental del siglo XX, Universidad Iberoamericana, México, 1998.


Enjoy Polanco with a guided tour

Antara shopping center and corporate towers

Rufino Tamayo’s painting at Camino Real Hotel

Accommodation in Polanco




Hotels


Camino Real *****

700 Mariano Escobedo Ave.
Colonia Anzures

+52 5263 8888

Web page


Habita ****

201 Presidente Masaryk

+52 55 5282 3100

Web page

contact@hotelhabita.com


Hyatt Regency *****

204 Campos Elíseos

+52 55 5083 1234

Web page

mexicocity.regency@hyatt.com


JW Marriot *****

29 Andrés Bello

+52 55 5999 0000 

Web page


Presidente Intercontinental****

218 Campos Elíseos.

+52 55 5327 7700

Web page 


W Mexico City *****

Trendy hotel with buzzy dining options

252 Campos Elíseos

+52 55 5591 3818

Web page


Las Alcobas*****

Trendy small-luxury hotel

390 Masaryk Ave.

+52 (55) 3300 3900

Web page




Residences - B&B


Dominion Polanco ****

Luxury Polanco Style Property

21 Aristóteles

+52 55 5281 0155

Web page


Flowsuites Polanco ****

34 Emilio Castelar

Casual all-suite hotel

+52 55 5282 4990

Web page


Golds227 ****

Casual hotel with a terrace & breakfast

227 Goldsmiith

+52 55 1951 6199

Web Page 


Las Suites ****

Upscale modern hotel

470 Campos Elíseos

+52 55 4629 1160

Web page  


Pug Seal Anatole ****

Chic Victorian style hotel

307 Anatole France

+52 55 8662 0615

Web page


Pug Seal Allan Poe ****

Chic Modern style boutique

90 Edgar Allan Poe

+52 55 7098 7059

Web page


Pug Seal Tennyson ****

Charming modern retro style

86 Tennyson

+52 55 7678 3801

Web page


Residence L'Heritage Taine ***

Relaxed hotel

318 Hipolito Taine

+52 5545 9245

Web page


Residence L'Heritage Tennyson ***

Relaxed apartment hotel

+52 55 5280 9794

Web page


Residence L`Heritage Aristóteles***

Casual all-suite hotel

140 Aristóteles

+52 55 5280 3020

Web page


Residence L'Heritage Royal Colonial ***

Classic Polanco residence

38 Alfredo Musset

+52 55 5280 1020

Web page


Suites Obelisk ****

Upscale hotel with a rooftop garden

Julio Verne 28-30

+52 55 5279 6363


The Wild Oscar ****

Chic hotel with 

516 Lamartine

Web page



Las Alcobas

W Mexico City

Camino Real

Registro Nacional de Turismo 31090140074

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