Mexico City’s Lottery Building, the Edificio de la Lotería Nacional, is lovingly known as El Moro. Although it was only briefly the tallest building in the city when it opened in 1946, it’s always been beloved for the Arte Deco style.
The building replaced a previous construction which is said to have looked like a Moorish shop. This explains the nickname, El Moro, even to this day. A competing explanation holds that the name came from the Kiosko Morisco, today in Santa Maria La Ribera. When the kiosk was briefly assembled at the site of today’s Benito Juárez Hemicycle, it was certainly used for lottery drawings and announcements. This was among multiple sites historically used for the drawings of daily lottery numbers.
El Moro faced manifold issues in the 13 years it took to build. Namely, the subsoil is saturated with water and required innovative engineering solutions to support a building of this size. Eventually a foundation had to be drilled to 55 meters and reinforced with concrete. The result is the first, and tallest building of its kind. It’s one that would be followed by many more constructions of ever greater heights. It was also the first building with a neon electric sign in Mexico City.
The tower served the lottery until 1970 when the even taller Torre del Prisma (just across the glorieta) was opened. Today, that’s the headquarters of the INBAL, and the National Lottery remains in its original headquarters.