A hundred years ago the city was the capital of the flourishing henequen trade—a crop so valuable it was called “oro verde,” or green gold. Industry barons and landowners scooped up properties in the opulent García Ginerés neighborhood, modeled after the wide, tree-lined streets fashionable in the suburbs of European cities like Paris and Barcelona.
In the 1920s and ’30s, the haciendas of García Ginerés welcomed a constellation of writers, actors, politicians and artists when they were in town. The house above, at the corner of calles 26 and 9, once hosted Fidel Castro.
Later, synthetic fibers killed the henequen industry, and the golden age. But take a stroll through the neighborhood’s generous calles today and you’ll find—beneath the canopy of shrubs and palm fronds, and behind the low stone walls crowned with shards of broken bottles—a few hard-earned glimpses of a forgotten neighborhood’s storied past.