The city of Puebla: A century of images 1863–1963

A journey through time to the city of Puebla, a World Heritage Site.

By Cocina Cinco Fuegos

Santa Basílica Catedral, 1863 (1863) by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

The city of Puebla is the reflection of many histories. In 1987, its historical center was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Its architectural surroundings have been an important part of people's history.

Ciudad de Londres en 1869 (1869) by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

Since its founding in 1531, the city was seen as an important population in the New Spain. Land in the vast central valley was suited to agriculture, especially for the cultivation of wheat and corn.

Ciudad de Londres en 1900 (1900) by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

Likewise, the intense commercial and cultural flow promoted by the Spanish Galleons—which arrived across the Atlantic Ocean—and the Chinese Nao ship—across the Pacific Ocean—provided the city with great wealth, all kinds of sumptuous objects and a great diversity of food and spices.

China Poblana, esencia de la mexicanidad by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

China Poblana, the essence of Mexico

A character surrounded by legend and poetry, he is seen posing in his attire and framed by Alfeñique decoration and the ironworks of the railing. The perspective of the street shows the houses and the silhouette of the La Malinche volcano.

Palacio Municipal en 1920 (1920) by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

Together with all this, the great work of its inhabitants in the textile industry, tanneries and workshops, it promoted the growth and prestige of the city and empowered it as a rich provincial city and the second most important in the whole viceroyalty.

Zócalo, pasillo paralelo al Palacio Municipal by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, the capital underwent great economic transformations: in 1900 Puebla produced one fifth of the Mexican textile industry.

El Círculo Español en 1922 (1922) by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

German and French entrepreneurs, already established in shops, imported the technological advances needed to boost industry and agriculture.

Avenida Francisco I. Madero, hoy 2 Norte by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

Avenida Francisco I. Madero, today 2 Norte

Street that was previously called 1ª de Mercaderes, there were the businesses of the most influential merchants of the city and the photographic studio of Lorenzo Becerril.

Portal de Borja, desde 1852 de Iturbide by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

The set of photographs presented here is a visual testimony of what photographers, with their accurate eye, captured between 1863 and 1963 in this city. Not only did they get from the historical center buildings and churches—an architectural heritage of the richest and best preserved in any city—their photographs also give an account of the human presence in a very dynamic historical center.

Catedral con rueda de la fortuna en el Zócalo by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

Cathedral with wheel of fortune in the main square

On public holidays, in the main square, and for the entertainment of passers-by, there were a number of mechanical games and street food stalls.

Banco Oriental, 1923 (1923) by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

Oriental Bank

Bank founded in 1900, the building is an example of the modernization of public services. The new nomenclature and the works for the sewerage network are observed.

Portal Hidalgo abajo del Palacio Municipal, 1938 (1938) by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

Portal Hidalgo below the Municipal Palace, 1938

One of the three gateways surrounding the main square. Its shelter promotes movement and sociability. There is the backdrop to the Restaurante Royalty, the favorite for eating and people watching.

Palacio Episcopal, 1932 (1932) by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

German and French entrepreneurs, already established in shops, imported the technological advances needed to boost industry and agriculture.

Calle 5 de Mayo, 1937 (1937) by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

Calle 5 de Mayo, 1937

The modernization of the city began in the 1940s, which gave way to a complex city. The photograph shows the street's great commercial activity, a specifically urban phenomenon.

Tienda Blanco, 1963 (1963) by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

In 2010, Puebla, along with other Mexican cities, was included as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, because of the importance of its traditional cuisine from a community culture, ancestral and living.

Jardín de Santiago, 1935 (1935) by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

Santiago Garden, 1935

Small square in the Santiago district, one of the oldest in Puebla. The fountain was conducive to close social harmony. The entrance arch to the atrium frames the facade of the Parish church of Santiago Apóstol.

Portada de Analco by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

Analco Facade

Facade chosen as a frame to show the characters with a hat, the square and its fountain, the bridge over the San Francisco River and the buildings surrounding the Cathedral.

Vista panorámica de la ciudad, 1937 (1937) by Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. Lorenzo Becerril A.C.Cocina Cinco Fuegos

Thus, this century of images can be perceived as the continuity of people's experiences, within a tangible and intangible historical heritage. History and memory intertwined in individual and collective perceptions, in specific moments of history that will not be repeated.

Credits: Story

Curator: Lilia Martínez y Torres
Photographers: Fototeca Lorenzo Becerril A.C. / Cocina Cinco Fuegos

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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