Thursday, August 11, 2011

Abandonment of the Eje Ambiental

Homeless men sleep in the one of the Eje Ambiental's dry pools. 
The Eje Ambiental was a pride of Bogotá. Built by Mayor Enrique Peñalosa and designed by Rogelio Salmona, Colombia's most famous architect, the eje is a tree-lined avenue with reflective pools in its middle which passes near many of the city's most important monuments and historical sites, including the Quinta de Bolivar, the Plaza del Periodista, San Francisco Church and the spot where politician Jorge Eliecer Gaitan was assassinated.

Paper, plastic and cigarrettes float in
the 'Environmental Axis' waters.
The Eje, completed in 2001 and named after Bogotá found Jimenez de Casada, was intended to be part of the renaissance and beautification of central Bogotá. And, to a great degree it was. The avenue is popular among walkers and cyclists, who can pass by the Candelaria neighborhood, the Universidad de los Andes, the historic San Francisco and Las Aguas churches and the Quinta de Bolivar, a colonial home where revolutionary leader Simon Bolívar lived for several years. The avenue also leads to el Cerro de Monserrate.

Putting the waters to use. A homeless man washes himself in
one of the Eje's stagnant pools. 
City workers periodically drain the avenue's pools, which represent the Rio San Francisco, which is now interred in pipes undergound, to clean them. But in recent weeks, they've left them dry. As a result, those pretty pools have turned into trash bins and dormitories and outdoor toilets for the homeless. Other pools, whose water is stagnant, float with cigarettes and discarded paper.

Still nice - the Eje's upper reaches still flow. 
Negligence has turned a piece of Bogotá's pride into an eyesore - incomprehensibly, just when Bogotá's trying to show itself off to visitors for the Under-20 FIFA World Cup.

At the top of the Eje Ambiental is La Quinta de Bolívar,
once occupied by El Libertador. 
Behind La Quinta is this trash-filled lot, which could be turned into a beautiful approach to Monserrate.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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