Thursday, April 22, 2010

Malecón 2000

Malecón 2000 runs for about a mile along the Guayaquil waterfront, along the river Guayas. A "malecón" is a pedestrian passageway along the water, and they exist in many waterfront Latin American cities, most famously, perhaps, in Havana.

Malecón 2000 reminds me, in many ways, of Seattle Center, where I work, but with design elements more in keeping with the history and setting of Guayaquil. It is a mulit-level space, with occasional ramps and stairs leading to higher plazas with views of the river or entrances to museums or restaurants, or lower levels of children's play areas, artificial ponds with remote controlled ships or go-cart tracks or themed gardens and fountains. Statues and sculptures, both historic and modern, grace many areas as do fountains, ice cream carts and even restaurants and bars with outdoor patios. The malecón is separated from the busy four-lane street that fronts it by plantings and a gate, but there are many entry points. The area is reassuringly patrolled by security guards, and apparently with cameras, although they must be discreet, because I never noticed any. There is also an army of maintenance workers, picking up garbage, keeping the ponds and gardens clean, and polishing the stainless steal railings. It's a great place for Guayaquileños and foreigners alike to spend an afternoon.

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