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Antigua Garita de San Lázaro

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Photo: Jorge Armando López Reyes on Wikimedia Commons

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The Antigua Garita de San Lázaro is literally the San Lazaro Garrison. A colonial era military installation, today it stands at the north of the Camera de Diputados park. The building served as one of 13 sentry points intended for customs and tax enforcement. This one served in that capacity from 1632 to 1647. It principally served to provide personnel to the Merced Atarazanas Nuevas, a wharf to which grain and produce arrived from points across the Lake Texcoco. Even today, the building could be considered the first to announce your arrival at the Merced Markets just to the west.

Perhaps, one most noteworthy fact of the building is its very existence. The area is known to have been of keen interest to the Spanish already in the 1520s. The building is not quite that old, but it survived with two dwellings for guards and their families throughout the colonial period. It was enlarged only in 1820.

In 1896, the building was remodeled to serve as a primary school. Then in 1913, it was briefly made headquarters of Federal Telegraph Directorate. Only in 1982 was it converted to serve as a childcare facility for the Legislative Palace across the park. That was later expanded to the José Revueltas school that still largely separates the Garita from the park to the south.

More importantly, the PILARES Candelaria community center opened in 2019. That’s done a tremendous amount to incentivize further restoration and conservation for the once badly neglected building.

Declared a monument in 1931, today the Antigua Garita de San Lázaro is a protected landmark. It seems to want to remind the largely 20th-century neighborhood of their common and very long past. On the other end of the Camera de Diputados park is the almost equally lonely San Jeronimito Chapel. Beneath the entire area and including the park, the Candelaria Metro station joins Metro Lines 1 and 4.

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