Among Silversmiths, Jesuits and Franciscans
By Todito Centro
At the head of the Palacio National begins one of the most memorable roads in all of Mexico, which with its little more than 700 meters in length could tell us thousands of stories, I mean Francisco I. Madero Street.
Naming it in this way has been attributed to Francisco Villa, since he himself, on December 8, 1913 at the intersection of Segunda de Plateros and San José el Real –Madero and Isabel La Católica-, climbed a ladder and nailed on the building, which today houses the ZARA store, a plaque with the name of Francisco I. Madero. However, before that day, in the New Spain era, it had five divisions and different names, which are reminded of us by the plates we find along this famous pedestrian walker. Starting from the Plaza de la Constitución and walking through Madero we will find two plaques with the name of Plateros. There are two streets, first and second, followed by one another and run from East to West. The First of Plateros began at the corner of the Merchants Portal and concluded in Palma, the second went from Palma to Isabel la Católica. The name of Plateros is granted when by ordinance of the viceroy Lope Díez de Aux Armendáriz orders that “all silversmiths congregate in the street of San Francisco and outside it can not have their stores.” This is a custom that, curiously, is being replicated as jewelers and gold and silver buying centers are located in this area. It seems that the Centro Historico has memory and does not detach from it throughout its life. The section that includes Isabel la Catolica Street in Bolivar bore the name of Profesa, due to the temple erected for the Jesuit order, which was expelled in 1767 by orders of King Carlos III. This temple is still standing and one of his last interventions was made by the great neoclassical architect in New Spain, Manuel Tolsá, who, tells the voice of the people, that inside this temple, on the altar dedicated to the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception carved the face of the Güera Rodríguez, who had her house in the corner of the temple. And that said more than all the travelers and aristocrats fell in love with her, from Humboldt to Iturbide.
The last interval of this histrionic street includes from Bolivar to Eje Central, it was called First and Second of San Francisco. In this section we find architectural monuments such as the Palace of the Marquises of Jaral de Berrio –which today occupies the Banamex Art Museum- or the Palace of the Counts of Orizaba, –today Sanborns de los azulejos- precisely in its corner, we will find a plaque with the name of 1st street of San Francisco. This name is not by chance since just in front we find the Church of San Francisco. In other words, it was one of the temples and convents with the greatest dimension in New Spain, it covered from Gante to Eje Central and back to the street of 16 de septiembre, where today there are still reminiscences of its old cloister in the bakery Ideal.
We could unravel thousands of stories of this small and bustling street, such as the arrival of the trigarant army, the triumphal entry of Benito Juarez before the Maximilian Empire, the march of loyalty to Fco. I. Madero, the arrival of Alvaro Obregon after overthrow Huerta … but today we just wanted to decipher the reason for their old names in order to understand our beloved Centro Historico a little more.