Thursday, March 21, 2013

120 Years of the Pasaje Rivas

Audelino Gutiérrez, whose sold in Pasaje Rivas for 60 years, and his son Fernando. 
The historic Pasaje Rivas, repository of lots of Colombianismo, celebrated its 120th anniversary this week.
Luz Marina has had her stand at the Pasaje's
south entrance for 17 years. 

Today, Bogotá is full of 'centro comerciales,' many of them lacking any character or personality. But all of them owe a historical debt to the Pasaje Rivas, the pioneer in their industry.

The Pasaje Rivas, together with two adjoining pasajes added later, forms an 'L', connecting the chaotic and polluted Carrera Decima to the pedestrian-only Calle 10, on the edge of La Candelaria. Its 17 independent businesses, in dark, narrow corridors, sell a mixture of touristy and practical things, including souvenirs, handicrafts, clothing, house decorations and furniture.

And, of course, it has lots of great people, and the sort of human attention you won't find in one of those prefab glass-and-stainless steel malls.
The pasaje's crowded interior. 
When Pasaje Rivas opened in 1893 the area was on the edge of Bogotá. Over the century since, it's seen huge changes, including the growth of the city's largest popular market, La Concepción, on its western side, and the market's later elimination to make way for widening Carrera Decima.

Pasaje Rivas was one of the few institutions in central Bogotá to survive unscathed the disastrous 1948 Bogotazo riots.

In the mid-1900s, the Santa Ines neighborhood to the market's southwest evolved into the notorious El Cartucho district, known for robbery, prostitution and drug sales and use. After FARC guerrillas launched bombs from El Cartucho at the presidential palace during Pres. Alvaro Uribe's 2002 inauguration, the city bulldozed El Cartucho and replaced it with the existing Tercer Milenio Park.

Audelino Gutiérrez displays some ruanas. 
Directly west of el Pasaje Rivas, San Victorino has grown into one of the largest popular market areas in South America. Meanwhile, to the market's east, the La Candelaria neighborhood sank almost to the level of a slum and is now reviving.

Pasaje Rivas, with its colorful mixture of offerings, seems to have changed much less.

Audelino's son Fernando, 40, says that despite all of the changes around it, the Pasaje Rivas has held its place.

"What we sell here is unique," he said.

Audelino Gutiérrez, aged 80, has sold furniture, fabrics, hammocks, traditional kitchen equipment and furniture in Pasaje Rivas for 60 years. The market's survival has always been a struggle to survive, he says - but it has survived.

"Here, we survive on basic sales," he said. "But we survive."

He showed me a guillotine for cutting panela, a bandeja for preparing patacones and dishes for
The view from the second floor. 
serving beans and seafood. He also pulled out traditional hats used in rural Colombia, including the famous Vueltiao (these are made in Colombia, not China) and another named the sombrero Uribista after ex-Pres. Uribe, whose family owns ranches.

Gutiérrez also showed me ruanas, simple wool ponchose which have come to symbolize the Colombian of modest means - just the sort of local people who shop in the Pasaje Rivas.

Audelino Gutiérrez offers hats. 

A plaque placed by the city this week. 

One of the pasaje's larger stores. 

The Pasaje Rivas's south entrance, on Calle Diez. 

The Pasaje's western entrance, on Carrera Decima. 

Cane baskets for sale. 

...and fake fruits. 

Views of the chaotic, noisy and polluted Carrera Decima, which should improve when TransMilenio finally starts operating here. 

Audelino demonstrates a guillotine for cutting panela. 
and a patacones-maker.

Windows of the pasaje's deteriorting second floor. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


mauricio forero l said...

You see Miguel, this is why I keep following your blog. Posts like this one, are awesome for me, they really take me back to the city that I love and remember so much. The Bogota that I walked with my grandfather as a child, those places that are chiseled in my memory. Excellent post, excellent shots.

By the way Mike, have you ever seen a modern shopping mall, that has either personality or charm...

I have not.

Miguel said...

Thanks Mauricio. I expected you'd like this post.


Elyssa Pachico said...

I totally want a patacon-maker now! Looks like a great place.