A dramatic and historically vibrant spot, the Legislative Palace on Calle de Donceles is a Neoclassical building opened in 1911. It served as the Federal Chamber of Deputies of Mexico until June of 1982. At that point, the Federal legislature was moved to the San Lazaro Legislative Palace. The building has also been the main seat of the Mexico City Legislative Assembly since 1988.
The Donceles building later became the Institute for Legislative Research and serves as a meeting place for legal and academic conferences on parliamentary issues. The building was declared a historic monument in 1987.
- The building was officially opened in 1911 by President Porfirio Díaz who finally resigned in the building in May of the same year.
- The only speech made by Francisco I. Madero to the Congress of the Union took place here on September 16th, 1912.
- It’s also the site where the 1938 Oil Expropriation law was approved, proposed by then-President, Lázaro Cárdenas del Río.
- In 1957, the women’s right to vote was recognized here and women voted for the first time soon after.
History of the Site
The site of the present building had been a weapons storage area in pre-Hispanic times. In colonial times, a plaza with a drinking water fountain stood for some time. This later became the Plazuela del Factor de la Cruz, a public market. It remained until the middle of the 19th century. By 1851, the Iturbide Theater was being built and for more than 20 years it was to remain the best theater in the country. This theater was then taken over by the Federal Chamber of Deputies after a fire destroyed their assembly areas in the National Palace in 1872. The Chamber of Deputies continued using the theater until 1909.
In March of 1909, another tremendous fire consumed the theater building. In nearly two years, a new building was complete on the same site. The same facade, and interior distribution, have survived almost without modification. Inside, the decor is French-style, noticeably in the spiral staircases, hallways, and lamps.
In this capital environment, the building of the Chamber of Deputies was inaugurated on the second session of the XXV Legislature. It was April 11, 1911 when Porfirio Díaz attended the event, the only time he stepped on the premises. Since then it became the permanent seat of the Lower House until the inauguration of the Legislative Palace in San Lázaro in 1981.
From 1912 to 1980, all Mexican presidents came to the venue to present their reports to Congress. In September 1988, the building became the seat of the Assembly of Representatives of the Federal District, the forerunner to Mexico City.