The Glorieta de la Palma is the fourth of the Paseo de la Reforma roundabouts. It’s one of the oldest, and one of the most perplexing. Many city residents would probably list it as a favorite, if for no other reason than that it lacks a monument.
- Roystonea regia is sometimes called the Cuban royal palm, or palma real in Spanish. Although not native to the Valley of Mexico, the species originates in Mexico and parts of Central America, the Caribbean, and southern Florida. Reaching heights of 15 to 30 meters, there are very few historical examples of individuals living to 100 years of age. This one surely did.
- Unfortunately, in 2022 the palm died. Mexico City residents voted to have it replaced with an ahuehuete tree. Native to the valley of Mexico, these trees have been recorded living well over 500 years. Its placement will likely lead to the renaming of the traffic roundabout, and to some surrounding transit stops.
The roundabout was established in the drawings of architect Louis Bolland already in 1864. The glorieta is very nearly the center point of the original Paseo de la Emperatriz as it was laid out at that time of Maximiliano. It was constructed soon after in 1865.
Numerous proposals have been put forward to modify the existing circle. But at this point, the public outcry would surely drown out anything a possible monument might say. The fact is, Mexico City residents not only identify with the glorieta as it is, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.
During the Porfiriato period, the circle was intended to get a monument in honor of Miguel Hidalgo. This was to coincide with the Independence Monument which was to commemorate the first centennial of Independence in 1910. According to legend, this is when the palm tree was planted. Only the column bearing the “Angel” was ever built. Plans for a bicentennial monument to be added in 2010. 100 years later, the closest an actual bicentennial monument came was at the Estela de Luz monument.
The fourth of four prominent roundabouts on Reforma between the park and Insurgentes, the Glorieta de la Palma will probably never garner visits. It’s an essential landmark nevertheless.