National Geographic : 1930 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE © Elmendorf from Galloway A LIVING WITNESS OF THE HORRORS OF THE SPANISH CONQUEST IS THE "TREE OF THE SAD NIGHT" Under this giant cypress at Popotla, near Mexico City, Hernando Cortez is said to have sat and wept at the sight of his depleted army straggling past after the disastrous retreat from Tenochtitlan July 2, 1520. summer palace. The name in Aztec means Grasshopper Hill. When Maxi milian and Carlota came they remodeled the old viceroy palace into a Tuscan style of almost Pompeian voluptuousness. Here I saw that famous painting showing Cor tez torturing the last Aztec Emperor. Tourists, especially in the cold winter months, throng the city in ever-increasing groups. Many come now by airplane, for regularly established lines tie the Mexi can capital to various American cities. Between Mexico City and the Pacific coast port of Acapulco a motor highway has The art of the been opened, follow ing in general the an cient military road used when Spanish galleons from Manila discharged cargo at Acapulco for ship ment to Spain via Mexico City and Vera Cruz. MEXICO CITY AS AN ART CENTER Out to historic Cuernavaca, where the American Ambassador and others have coun try places, a scenic motor highway now leads, and likewise to Puebla, ancient and prosperous city. From the American border, motor highways, like the one to Monterrey, are beginning to pene trate, and it is only a question of time until touring motor parties from the United States will be a com mon sight on the streets of Mexico City. It is a curious fact that nearly a cen tury ago one visitor predicted that some day a public stage coach line would ply from Philadelphia and Washington to the old Aztec capital! Indian and the modern Mexican intrigues every tourist. Whether one is lured by Aztec art in the museum, by native serapes or ceramics, by the many fine old paintings in the churches and gal leries, or sometimes by the more futuristic murals and canvases of the moderns, Mex ico City is, beyond question, the conspicu ous seat of Spanish-American artistic cul ture in North America. The brush-and-pen achievements of mere school children and their plastic work in clay is inevitably a source of astonishment to foreign visitors.