From the newest edition of In the Shadow of the Angel:
Undulating sidewalks and slanted windows were characteristic of this neighborhood. When he undertook the job of installing the drainage pipes, Antonio had explained to his children that in the days of the Aztecs the heart of Mexico City was an island, always threatened by floods. The Spaniards drained the shallow lakes and filled in the canals to make more land mass. But the spongy subsoil always had its way, pushing up one building and pulling down another.
It was a neighborhood familiar to Antonieta. She often accompanied her father to collect his rents in some of these tumbledown buildings he was constantly repairing. Today, enticing smells dispelled the knot in her stomach. Spicy tacos and gorditas sizzled on sidewalk braziers, burros loaded with bags of charcoal clattered down the street, young boys stood on corners smoking cigarettes. Youth, here, moved in an exotic world.
Villagrande’s bookstore, on the ground floor of an old colonial building, was a gathering place for criollos, mestizos, and literate Indians, many of whom had obtained an education from its venerable volumes. Its interior was dimly lit; high shelves bulged with a hodgepodge of publications, creating a tapestry of abstract design. The clerks slid their ladders back and forth, attending customers of all ages, income, professions, and political ideologies.
To learn more about the upheaval and transformation of this ancient city during the revolution, read the whole story here.