Antonio Rivas Mercado

From the New Edition of In the Shadow of the Angel:

Antonio locked the drawers of his desk and took his hat off the rack.

“I have to stop by Boari’s for a minute and check Juana’s roof before the workmen leave.  Shall we go?”

Adamo Boari’s studio was a beehive of activity, buzzing with half a dozen foreign tongues.  Louis Lamm, an American engineer, was just leaving, but stopped to talk with Antonio in what the gentleman thought was passable Spanish.  The American and his partners were filling in the old swampland on the western edge of the city and selling lots for thirteen pesos a square meter!  Antonio walked past tables piled with blueprints to where Boari and the sculptor, Alciati, were inspecting a large model of the Opera house.  Four bronze Pegasus figures on pedestals had been added around the dome.

“Well hello, Antonio,” Boari said.  “What do you think?”

“Impressive.  But I noticed this morning that one of your bronze beasts is flying, dangling from a pulley.  Still worried about weight?” Antonio asked.

Boari shook his shoulders. “Millikan Brothers came down from Chicago to make the calculations.  We have pumped enough concrete into the foundation to hold up two opera houses.  Where does it go?”

So Adamo was still having trouble.  “I am thinking of going to Chicago to see your Millikan Brothers myself.  Why don’t you come along?”

“And leave this?”  Boari threw out his arms.

“You might want to.  With this white elephant going up in front of that Venetian Palace you call the Post Office, you just might create a Grand Canal.”  Antonio chuckled heartily but Adamo was not in the mood for banter.  “I came to see Garita.”

“He left early,” Boari said.

Suddenly serious, Antonio took his friend aside.  “I’m worried, Adamo.  Damned worried.  My calculations show the Monument is leaning two degrees. I want Garita to check it.”  Antonio had high respect for his Mexican colleague’s skill as an engineer.  “Would you ask him if he can be at the site Monday morning?  Seven o’clock.”

Boari nodded with empathy and accompanied Antonio to the door…

Click here to read the full story on Antonio Rivas Mercado’s towering contribution to Mexico City architecture…