Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bogotá's 'Subway' Mystery

Isn't that a subway entrance on Jimenez and Seventh Ave?
They look like subway entrances.... They're located like subway entrances...But Bogotá never had a subway (altho they keep talking about building one.)

Trading emeralds beside one of the structures.
Pass by Ave. Jimenez just west of Carrera 7 and you'll see two metal cages which look a lot like antiquated subway entrances - except that only rarely does anybody enter or leave them. Alongside them, TransMilenio buses roll up and down Jimenez.

In fact, the two mysterious structures have nothing to do with subways, but they are openings to a chapter of Colombian history.

What's the message in this flower?
Panama once belonged to Colombia. But U.S. Pres. Theodore Roosevelt wanted to dig a canal across the isthmus, and Colombia's government wasn't very cooperative. A man of action - and also imperialism - Roosevelt encouraged the Panamanians to rebel and sent U.S. Navy warships to prevent Colombia from putting down the rebellion. Panama became independent, the U.S. dug the canal, world trade changed and the rest is history.

Hanging around. Performance art. 
What's that got to do with those metallic structures on Jimenez Ave? Years later, the U.S. paid Colombia about $25 million for having stolen Panama - certainly one of history's best land deals. Colombia used the money for urban projects, including demolishing buildings along Jimenez to broaden the avenue. Those metallic structures are the entrances to the basement of a demolished building.

Ironically, there is a Subway nearby.
For years, I understand, the basement space sat vacant. Now, however, it's being used to teach theatre and for staging plays. Meanwhile, the theatre people use the space in the eastern entrance cage for quirky, random still lifes. One day it's flowers, then a couch, fast-food packaging...Once a week, they stage performances. The other structure a block west makes a convenient display area for street vendors' art.

A fun place to climb. 
The gringos took Panama, but they gave Colombia McDonald's.

A tribute to Ronald McDonald, America's gift.

A poster advertises theatre. 

On the western end of the block, art for sale. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Cadim said...

I've wondered about this for ages and nobody I asked seemed to know, thanks!

Miguel said...

Very glad to be of help. I'd still like to know the name of the building which was demolished.