National Geographic : 1940 Oct
Hail Colombia Every Street Is a Forum and Every Cafe a Town Hall in Bogota Here citizens discuss business, politics, sefioritas, and each other on Seventh Avenue, the capital's principal thoroughfare. When congestion is thickest, about five o'clock in the afternoon, all vehicles except streetcars are prohibited. Two friends at the left grasp each other by the upper arm in the conventional gesture of greeting. The headline in the Siglo (Century) of Bogota, dated just after war was declared, says, "Germany proclaims she will attack neither France nor England." Single-story straw-thatched houses are still seen beside multi-storied office buildings, and horse-drawn carriages with orange-painted wheels compete with streamlined automobile cabs of United States manufacture. "Luncheria Americana," says a sign over a quick-lunch restaurant, itself an imported institution, at the city's busiest corner. Stop Lights Serve Also as Billboards Traffic stop-and-go lights are oversized and cylindrical. The red section is generally let tered with some short advertising plug, such as "Buy Buick!" Because no one stops on the green light, of course, that segment bears no legend. Many industries and factories in Barran quilla belie its character of hot tropical port. Cotton, wool and rayon fabrics, beer, rubber sheets, oxygen, macaroni, ice, hats, ships, soap, shoes, metal furniture, and cement tile-all these and more are made on the banks of the Magdalena. The English manager of a textile mill showed me sacks of raw cotton brought down from upstream ports. The sacks are pur chased by weight. "If we were running a foundry as well as a textile mill, we would have plenty of raw material," the manager remarked wryly, showing me a rusty heap of scrap iron. Fractured anvils, cracked engine blocks, and the like are frequently inserted in the bags of cotton to add weight. Despite the increment of old metal, how ever, this largest cotton mill of Colombia man ages to spin, weave, dye, and finish 300,000 pounds of cotton each month. "Cartagena of the Indies" Cartagena, southwest of Barranquilla along the coast, is perhaps the best preserved of the old Spanish fortified cities in the Americas. I drove there one morning over the automobile road from Barranquilla. Just outside the city proper the hill called La Popa looms up on the flat horizon. At one time the strongest fortress of the walled city commanded the harbor entrances from atop this hill. Massive ruined ramparts and forts testify that Cartagena of the Indies-as it was and is still sometimes called-well deserved the reputation of being the most strongly fortified place in the New World (Plates I and X).