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On either side of Central Avenue outside the limits of the old city are residences and small shop buildings. On
the road that extends from one block south Hospital, of the Plaza Santa Ana westward to Balboa Cemetery, are the Santo Tomas Hospital, rejuvenated Restricted since 1904, and the cemeteries. The hospital District. has 350 beds, is under the direction of an
American doctor, and has a good staff both of physicians and nurses. It is maintained by the Government of Panama, but the United States Government has representatives on its board of directors. Americans injured in Panama are taken direct to Ancon Hospital.
There are three cemeteries-one for Chinese, one for Hebrews, and one for Christians. The Christian burying ground is held on concession from the Government, and space for burial is leased on time leases. There are interesting monuments here telling a story of the mixture of many races, and giving some insight into the tragedy of the first canal builders who succumbed to fever in the early French days.
Between the hospital and the cemeteries is the restricted section of the city in which, under surveillance of the authorities, live 130 women engaged in the profession of public prostitution.
Going down Central Avenue from Plaza Santa Ana, three blocks below the latter place, one comes to the Church
of La Merced, dedicated to “Our Lady of Gate to Old Mercy.” This church is used here only for City. a landmark; it is referred to on page 169.
Diagonally across from La Merced, alongside the drug store, is a piece of the old wall that ran across the back of the city, from tidewater on one side to tidewater on the other. It is worth going over and climbing up the steps, for in this way one gains an idea of the size of the walls whose great price caused even a King of Spain to wonder. This piece of wall was one of the two bastions that commanded the drawbridge across the old moat, and likewise the sabanas on the north of the city. By reference to the map of the city in 1857, one can see how entirely these two salient points commanded every part of the plains outside. The youth of Panama play tennis on the old tasticn, and there once a year a traveling circus, with its clowns and other glories, makes a one-week stand.
LA MERCED—PANAMA CITY.—(Church of Our Lady of Mercy.)
It has an area of at least 15,000 square feet, and from the top there is a sheer drop to the level of the country outside the walls of from 30 to 35 feet. A parapet three feet high still stands there, in places showing the embrasures for the brass cannon that were mounted on the top of the castle. There remains enough of the old wall running from the castle to the sea on the south side, to show that it was formed of two rock walls filled in between with earth, and that there was room on top for a cart to pass.
Within the old wall is really Panama. Outside are some Panamans, but mostly aliens; within are a few hundred aliens among the many Panamans, but the spirit of the old place is also there,-in the narrow streets, the old plazas, in the churches, on the sea-wall, in the homes, indescribable something that one must not let lay hold of him, because it will never let go. “They always come back,” is said of people who leave here for a while; and this is the verbal expression of the spirit's power. Three blocks from the old city gate one comes to the point from which the city was laid out, the central square.
The Plaza Independencia (Cathedral Plaza, or Central Park) is the heart of Panama City, and has been for nearly
two centuries and a half. On that morning Central Plaza. in 1673, when the Bishop of Panama knelt and
drew on the ground a cross that must mark
the corner of the new cathedral, the life of the plaza began. Quite likely the men who watched the ceremony walked aside to the shade of some friendly tree when it all was over, lighted their cigarettes, and talked about the chances of the new city in the place where now the men of Panama congregate to discuss the politics of the day. From this
center run out the main streets of the old city-Avenida Central north and south; and 5th, 6th, and 7th Streets east and west. On the north side is the cathedral to which reference is made on page 166; on the south the Hotel Central; on the west the new municipal building, and the old Canal administration building; and on the east the Bishop's palace and the office of the lottery.
The Administration Building of the French Canal days was built in 1875 as a hotel, in the style most common in
Panama-in fact, the Spanish style, a rectangCanal Office ular building four stories high, around a patio Building or court. After a few years as a hotel it was
leased by the French Canal Company and was used as the main administrative building, and from this office, as now from Culebra, the Director governed his construction community. The Americans came into possession of it on May 4, 1904, when they took over the effects of the French Canal Company, and immediately it was made the administrative headquarters. During the yellow fever epidemic of 1905 the buil ng was found to be infested with St-gomyia mosquitoes, and fully half the cases contracted among American employees could be traced to this building. It was abandoned as headquarters in 1906, when the Chief Engineer moved his office to Culebra. At present it is occupied by the health and municipal offices of Panama, and by the Panama government printing office.
The municipal building, the handsom.est in the city, was completed in 1910, and occupies the site of the old “ca
bildo” or town hall in which independence Muncipal was declared in 1821. It contains the municiBuilding pal council chamber, and other offices, and
the Columbus Library, a collection of over 2,500 books. Here can be found works in Spanish that throw light on the history of Panama. The front door is made up of a dozen different native hardwoods carefully joined and polished. This is worth a study on the part of anyone interested in cabinet woods. In the corridor is a marble statue of a bacchante. Highbrow people look at this intently and say—“Ah, very good, very good," so it is probably a good piece of work. There is nothing suggestive about the bacchante being in the corridor of the municipal building, because the police court is held several blocks away.
The Hotel Central is another example of the Spanish type of building around a large central court. It is four.
stories high and was built in 1880, but has Hotel been renewed during the past few years. The Central. rooms are airy and clean. To the tourist it
is most interesting as a coign of vantage from which to view the varied life of the city. Instead of the summer resort crowd that one finds at the Hotel Tivoli he sees here
Latin-Americans, in its cafe political partisans always discussing what may happen, and in the patio on Sunday night, while an orchestra plays, the most vivacious scene to be found in Panama, for here people of half a dozen nations congregate to gossip and sip their drinks and watch one another. From the balcony one may look on at the life of the Plaza, whose most characteristic scene is that of the sunset hour when the men of the city make little groups upon the park benches while they gossip and smoke a friendly cigarette. At night it is more quiet, but not less interesting, for there are always people sitting about until as late as 11 o'clock, and that is very late in Panama, except for dances, and they last until daylight.
On Sunday night the Republican Band plays in the Plaza, and people of all races and a score of nations promenade.
By consent of all, because it is an old custom, Plaza the outside walk is used by the brown and Promenade. black people and the walk running east and
west through the center of the plaza, ky the whites. Of late years the inner walk is overcrowded by Americans, some of whom have the unfortunate attitude of afpearing to want to push their hosts off the earth.
Yet one score of prominent Panamans in the plaza every Sunday night, and as many more girls and young wcmen. the latter often lavishly dressed and distinctly pretty. The variety of Americans alone would make this promenade interesting, and one realizes by watching it how many generations away the American “type” must be. The excuse for the Sunday evening promenade and its opportunity to show and see pretty dresses, astonishing hats, and charming women, is the band concert. It is always good. The band practices constantly; it was organized by a high-grade musician, Santos Jorge, composer of the National Hymn of Panama, and is carried on under an able conductor.
The Bishop's palace is a square building, three stories high, built in 1880, and like the others constructed around
a patio. Here the late Bishop lived a quiet Episcopal but busy life, and from this place the affairs Palace. of the oldest dioceses in America are admin
istered. The palace contains, in addition to the Bishop's plain rooms, the offices and rooms of his assistants, and a boy's school.
In one corner of the Bishop's palace is the office of the Panama Lottery, almost as incongruous a combination as