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The Birmingham age-herald. [volume] (Birmingham, Ala.) 1902-1950, February 16, 1913, MAGAZINE SECTION, Image 48

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I_j Modern Life in Mexico's Beautiful Capital I_1
BY FRANK G. CARPENTER
Mexico's Famous Cathedral
(Copyright, 1913, by Frank G. Carpenter.)
Mexico City.
WHEN I started across the boun
dary I was warned that I took
my life In my hands, and
that 1 would always be in danger
of the Mexican bullets. I replied that
I would at any rate escape the Amer
ican automobile* and that all the bullets
of Mexico could not equal the danger of
crossing the street in New York or Chi
cago. I find that ri have jumped out of
j Ihe frying pan into the fire. Mexico City
swarms with automobiles, and they go at
such speed that they would he held up on
any country roftd in the United States.
Hero no speed limit whatever is observed,
and even the taxicabs race each other on
the chief business streets. Limousines go
at GO miles an hour over the asphalt of the
f’aseo de la Reforma, and in the A veil i
da de Han Francisco, the Broadway and
Fifth avenue of this town, the motor cars
fairly bump each other as they fly this
way and that. The same is true of all
kinds of traffic. The motor drays make
30 miles an hour and there are hundreds
of motor cycles which go so fast that
their wheels seem solid disks. I have
never seen anything like It, and my heart
beats, as 1 have tried to keep out of
their way, have worn my throat to a
frazzle.
Not Dead Yet
I had expected to Had Mexico City •
’ deader." X thought the revolution would
have squeezed the life out of business,
and that the people and prices would be
on the down grade. X find it quite the re
verse. The troubles which have been go
ing on over the country have scared the
rich hacleadados into renting or buying
property in the capital, and they have
come here until conditions are stable.
They are good money spenders, and the
Opera house is now tilled every night. X
hud the streets thronged with people anti
the stores filled with goods bearing cost
marks as high or higher than those of the
states. 1 find new' buildings going up on
tlie outskirts and construction of one kind
or other on the chief business streets,
.lust below the Alameda a, national thea
tre which is to cost higlt into the millions
is almost completed, and on the Plaza de
la Republlca stands the great steel skele
ton of the legislative palace, which, if it
is ever completed, will cost something like
111,000,000.
Kuilt on a Swamp
I say. if It is ever completed. Tlte
building promises to be too heavy for its
foundation, and it is slowly sinking into
the great bed of ooze upon Which tills
city stands. The same is true of the Na
tional theatre, the new postoflfiee, and of
Other great buildings which ate slowly
and gradually going down into the ooze,
within the past few years a drainage sys
tem lias been introduced, but tills has
taken off the subsoil water which aided
in upholding the principal buildings, and
, 'n°y am now said to lie more stable dur
ing the rainy season when the ground is
well soaked.
The Mexico of today is founded on tlie
site of the ancient capital of the Mon
tezumas, and L am told that there has
been a city right here since a hundred
years before Columbus discovered Ameri
ca. The capital of Montezuma was a
town of islands and mainland cut up by
canals. It had hundreds of bridges, and
its 120,000 houses, made of red porous
stone, skirted the canals and had cement
sidewalks, lining the waterways, just
as has the Venice of today.
After the conquest, when the Spaniards
built their capital, they did not go to the
highlands, but chose the. same site that
formed the Aztec metropolis. The only
difference is that they have tilled up the
canals and drained a large part of the
lakes, and they have now buildings cov
ering a space which is many times larger
than that of the ancient city. The Mexico
City of the present covers about 2<>
.square miles. It has a population of
more than half a million, and including
its outskirts, or the federal district, it is
more than twice the size of the city of
Washington.
it is a well lighted city, having 2500 arc
lamps, and so many car lines that If put
end to end they would reach all the way
from New York to Boston.
Owing to the swampy foundation there
are no skyscrapers, and the main busi
ness blocks are of three and four stories.
There is not the broken sky line of our
American cities, and the town looks more
like one of the old world than of the new.
Mexico From the Cathedral Tower
But suppose we take a bird’s eye view
of Mexico City. We can get it from one
of the twin towers of the great cathedral,
which forms the pivot around which the
whole city moves. This is the highest,
capital north of the Panama canal. It is
a mile and a half above the other great
capitals of the world, and the cathedral
towers are 200 feet higher.
The cathedral stands on the spot which
forms the center of the great city of the
Montezumas. It is just above the site of
the pyramid upon which lay the sacri
ficial stone where the Aztecs sacrificed
their victims and upon which 60,000 slaves
were slain every &eai. That pyramid
rose ,within 50 feet of the top of the tower,
and it was ’there that Montezuma stood
beside Cortez when he tool? him up to
show him the city.
We take a taxi and are soon at the
cathedral. We choose the southern tower
and enter the little door at Its foot. We
wind our way round ami round through
the darkness up steps worn hollow by the
fret of thousands, and at last come out
high above the Mexican capital.
What a magnificent site for a city! We
are in the heart of tin* valley of Mexico
and surrounded by mountains which make
n series of formications created by na
ture, beyond which as 1 write the rebels
are flghtlng. The mountains reach to
the skies and those two great peaks
off there at the south are covered with
snow. They are I’opocntapetl and Txtac
clhuatl. Old Popo is considered the hus
band of the latter and she is everywhere
Interior View of Mexico’s New
Postoffice
known as “The White Woman." See how
like a sleeping giantress she looks, as,
carved in silver, she lies there out
stretched upon the purple rocks which
slope down to the plain. She lies on her
back with face uupturned, and we can see
•her mighty breasts and the whole outline
of her gigantic body clear to the snowy
feet which are turned toward old I’opo.
The Valley of Mexico
Now look at the valley in the renter of
w hich we are standing. Do you wonder
that it was chosen as the center of the
Aztec empire and as the site of the best
of that old civilization. It Is a garden
spot, 45 miles long and 30 miles wide,
with a half dozen silvery lakes running
through It. These lakes rise one over the
other, the level of nil of them being above
that upon which the Mexican capital
stands.
Skirting the lakes and covering the val
ley, and corning close to the edge of the
city, are plains of righest green, and
within them Is the great red and gray ex
panse of low buildings which make up
Mexico City. That vast building off to
the south cost over $2,000,000. It is the new'
penitentiary, and It Is now the home of
many a rebel, including Gen. Bernardo
Reyes.
Off on the opposite side of the city we
can see Chapultepec, where is now the
White House of Mexico. It Is there that
Montezuma had tils summer residence, and
there President Diaz lived. That wide
avenue shaded wfith trees and decorated
with magnificent statues which leads to
it Is the Paseo de la Reforma, and the
magnificent buildings about are the Co
lonias. They cover some thousands of
acres, and form the new sections of the
capital which were planned by Americans
and built with American money.
The Mexican Housetops
Nowi take your glass and look at the
great checkerboard of Mexico City. The
most of the streets cross each other at
right angles, and the whole seems to be
divided up into square fields paved with
brick. That is how the capitul looks from
the sky.
The roofs of all the houses below us
are flat. There is not a chimney in the
whole city, and you can number the fur
naces on your lingers and toes. These
people do all their heating and cooking
with charcoal, and a hot w’ater plant
would be as great a wonder here as the
Siamese twins or a live legged calf. Now
look a little closer at the great expanse
Of brick fields which fnake up the houses.
The New City Hall of Municipal Palace
Each house has a hole in its center. That
is the patio or court arouml which the
rooms run. This often constitutes the
garden of the family and we can see
trees rising here and there over the roofs.
The tops of the buildings are almost
level, save where a public office here and
there arises higher or where the many
churches with their spires and towers
stand In evidence of the days when this
land was ruled by priests. Their roofs,
like those of all of the buildings, are cov
ered with bricks laid in lime mortar, and
there is almost as much masonry on the
top of a house as there is in its walls.
Mexico's Big Cathedral
Take this mighty cathedral on which
we are standing. It is the largest on
the North American continent, and its
roof covers acres. ft is paved with
bricks, containing enough, T venture,
to form the roadways for a town of
10,000 people. This building cost mil
lions, and the tower upon wich wo
are standing alone cost $100,000 or
more. Its choir has a balustrade
formed of an alloy of silver, copper and
gold, which weighs almost three tons
and is worth more than that weight
in solid sliver. Inside the cathedral
was once a single statue of gold set
with diamonds, valued at a million dol
lars, and the altars contained precious
stones before they were plundered in
some of the revolutions of the past.
The cathedral has one hell so heavy
that it would take 40 horses to haul
it if it could be broken up and loaded
on wagons. The clapper of that bell
is two feet taller than President Taft
and it weighs 200 pounds more. On
clear days it can be heard six miles
away. The church has altogether 40
hells, and when they ring at midday the
peons who hear them take off their
hats. The sound is also the call to
lunch, and the clerks then drop their
work and rush for the street cars to
go home to eat and to rest.
This cathedral is not only the biggest
church on the continent, but it is also
the oldest. The corner stone was laid
in 1578, upon the site of the great
Aztec temple which Cortez destroyed.
A small church was erected there two
years later, and then 50 years after
ward came the foundations of this
mighty building, whose walls were
completed five years before our puri
tan fathers first came to America.
The walls of the cathedral are said to
have cost more than a million dollars,
and when the church was opened the
richest of the Spaniards gave up their
jewels to decorate it. Something like
two million dollars’ worth of ornaments
were presented and among them a chal
ice covered with gems valued at $300,
000. This was given by a rich miner
who later, falling into financial distress
begged that his gift be returned. It
is said that/he got back $100,000, but I
doubt it.
But let us go down from the tower
and take a walk through the streets!
The cathedral faces the Plaza Major or
the Plaza eke la Constltucion upon
which faces the National Palace, the
new city hall, the Monte do Pledad or
government pawnbroking shop and
other great buildings. It is just 5
o’clock as we come out of the church
and as we stroll along by the palace
we see that soldiers are massed at one
of the entrances where a great crowd
has gathered. We are told that the
president is coming. We wait a mo
ment and soon see an automobile fly up.
The soldiers present arms and the
bugler gives a blast in way of salute.
At the same time the people raise their
hats and cry “Viva! Viva! Madero!”
The automobile opens and a little man
with a fat face covered with a brown
l>eard takes off bis hat and salutes as
he goes into the building.
A Walk Through the Business Section
We cross the Plaza and go up the
Avenida de San Francisco. The sun
has now set and the electric lights
have sprung out. The street blazes with
the arc lamps, which, fastened to posts
about 15 feet high, run through it
from one end to the other. The lights
are so arranged that each duster of
five is not more than 25 feet distant
from that on the opposite side of the
way. The windows of the shops are
also illuminated and the asphalt shines
like polished glass under the electric
rays. •
Now stop a moment and notice the
people. There are representatives hero
New National Theatre Which Will
Cost Millions
from all over Europe. Germans, French
men, Englishmen and Spaniards, and
also many Americans. Wo see our
goods in tiie stores and hear the Eng
lish language often spoken as we walk
through the streets. There are many
rich Mexicans, and some of them come
in from the country with the costume
of the old hacienilado, consisting of
an immense sombrero loaded with sil
ver and a suit of rich cloth decorated
with numerous buttons and braid.
There are many peon men wearing
blankets over their shoulders and In
dian women with black rebosas
wrapped round their heads. There ar«
also girls of the well to do classes,
clad in black with black shawls round
their heads, and others wearing high
heeled shoes and Paris hats like those
of our ladies at home. Most of the
women have powder and pajnt upon
their dark faces, but not more, I ven
ture, than you can see any day on the
girls who walk up and down the great
white way in New York.
Built by Americans
When I was in Mexico City 20 years
ago the new part of the capital lying
on both sides of the Paseo de la Re
forma lmd just begun to be. The city
then was only half the size it is now,
and the greater part of this region was
covered with swamps. Its possibilities
were seen by American capitalists, and
they organized a syndicate named the
American Colony company and bought
large tracts of land, which they laid
out in lots. They drained off the water
and put in pavements and seWers. They
also built modern houses costing all
the way from $25,000 to $100,000 apiece
and sold them on time. The investment
was exceedingly profitable and T am
told that they made something like
100 per cent dividends on about $6,
000,000.
The first district was known as the
colonial and now we have a half dozen
different colonials which have sprung
up in that region. One is the Colonia
Roma, which named its streets after
the cities of Mexico, and which repre
sented a capital of about $4,000,000,
furnished by Americans. Another co
lonia was laid out by a Kansas City
man. and others by Mexican capitalists.
All of these enterprises paid well,
and today these colonias form the
finest parts of the Mexican capital.
They extend all the way from the Ala
meda or a little beyond it to Chapul
tepee and they have covered a largo
part of the ground to the north and
south of the Paseo de la Reforma.
The streets of one colony are named
after foreign cities, and you can walk
through Vienna, Diverpool, Berlin or
liondon. Another has streets named af
ter famous Mexican statesmen, and an
other, near the Plaza de Toros, mighT
be called the colony of doctors, for
every street bears a name with a Dr.
before it.
It is here in this colony section that
our ambassador lives, the American
flag flying over his mansion of stone.
■ ■ - - - -- ----- i ' «
“Buntys" Who Rule the Destinies of Empires
(Copyrighted, 1913, by Curtis Brown.)
BERLIN, February 15.—(Special.)—
Events of the past few weeks have
reminded official circles here of
the continued existence of Prince Vladi
mir Orloff, one of this* most picturesque
characters in present day Russia. Bluff,
strong, fearless and unscrupulous, in the
past lie exerted an all powerful influence
over Nicholas the Weak. Of late his in
fluence has waned, but recent events have
demonstrated to those who have been
behind the scenes, so to speak, that lie is
once more pulling the strings.
It was prince Orloff who dictated the
recent royal ukase that banished Grand
Duke Michael Alexandrovitch from his
country, at the same time relieving 1dm
of certain rights as regent in the event
of the young Caarovitch succeeding to
the throne during IiIb infancy. It is Or
loflf's way of dealing with the plotting »f
the Osar’s brother and the Dowager Em
press Marie to oust the young Czarovitch
from the succession to the throne. To
casual observers this strong action on
the part of Nicholas was a surprise, but
to those who know the man who stands
behind him the explanation is simple.
For Orloff is one of those masterful men
to be found at most of the European
courts, and w ho, holding small official po
sitions or none at all, yet by sheer force
of personality direct the affairs of their
countries. Russia has seen many Much;
England boasts one at the present mo
ment whose name ia hardly known even
to the public in the country on whose
affairs he exerts a preponderating Influ
ence, and even Germany, proud of the
headstrong Wilhelm, yields to the strong
hand and masterful brain of a billetless
prince.
Of all the numerous courtiers who ha e
disputed with priests and spiritualists for
influence over Czar Nicholas II., by Ti
the strongest and most dangerous i
Prince Vladimir Orloff. Orloff has bea’
en down half a dozen rivals, and even dis
lodged Prince Putiatin, the Czar's seen
lury, who, during the days of ihe first
duina. dictated Russia - court policy.
Orloff ia a worthy sprig of a courageous,
talented and unscrupulous line. He is the
sop of Prince Nicholas Orloff. who lost an
fye and an arm at the siege of Silistria in
,Sv&4. This Nicholas was son of another
distinguished Orloff. Alexei, who forced
Turkey to sign the humiliating Treaty of
I nkiar Skelessi; and Alexei in turn wu
the illegitimate progeny of Feodor or
loff, and his uncle, also Alexei, throttle !
Peter 111 with his own hands. Another
uncle, Grigori, was the handsome, gigan
tic and notorious lover of Empress i‘nih
eiine II.
Most of the OrJofTs have been diplomau<
and literary, s:** well as heads!long am!
adventurous. The present. Vladimir, i
merely a strong, courageous animal, and
to this he owes his influence over Nicho
las II., who Is weak and small. In per
son he Is big and stout and likes to think
he resembles nn old Russian boyfcrd; m
earlier days he lmd a great reputtaion for
feats of skill. Jntelectually, he stands
far below his rival. Putiatin. But as body
gourd and swashbuckler, OrlofT keeps
control over Nicholas, whom ho accom
panies everywhere, always insisting upon
driving the imperial automobile himself.
Despite his lack of genuine qualifica
tions, OrlofT lias great influence in poli
tics. His only political principle is.
When you see nn enemy’s head, hit ii.
That is. 1* lias enough Intelligence to dis
tinguish Between reactionaries and re
formers, and knows that the only counsel
Nicholas will take is to support the reac
tionaries. The late Peter Stotypin, Count
Witte, and the present premier, Kokovt
self, have all had cause to complain of
By RUDOLPH VON ELPHBERG
Nicholas' subserviency to Orloff. It was
his Intermeddling in 1903 which decided
Witte’s dismissal from the post of min
ister of finance. Orloff took it upon him
self to decide upon a complicated ques
tion of the state drink monopoly upon
which Witte had quarreled with the im
perial comptroller. Oiloff’s enemies de
clared ironically that he was qualified
to judge this question, only because he
himself was given to excessive drinking.
This accusati >.i has never been proved;
but it is certain that Nicholas II is fond
of the bottle* and that court intriguers
persistently exploit this fact in order to
force him to vicious decisions on matters
of high politics.
Orloft’s position as all powerful unoffi
cial adviser is stranger because he holds
no official poet worth mentioning. As cour
tier he has the rank of “wing aide de
camp,” as officer the rank of colonel,
and he also holds the easy position of
"chief of the military field ehaifcellorv
of his imperial Highness.” This last
means that when Nicholas goes on ma
neuvres it Is Orloff s duty to look art or
the imperial catMp. The work takes only
a few days in tne year, and it is done by
the* favorite s underlings. Being up to his
neck in political intrigue, Orloff has no
time for official work. This fact is well
known to his enemies, who made use of
it in lHOK to damage his position, and, in
fact, nearly brought him to a fall.
The Krasnoe Selo annual maneuvers
and army Inspection are always run on
lines of domesticity, which amaze the
foreign military attaches. The imperial
table Is served in precisely the same ex
travagant style as when Nicholas is at
home. The tents resemble palaces, and
ballet girls or French actresses from the
Michael theatre are brought down to keep
Nicholas in good humor. In 1908, every
thing went wrong. Wrong wines were
sent down; one of the czar's tents col
lapsed in a-slight wind, and the MichaeJ
theatre artists had to sleep in dirty
peasant huts. The antl-Orloff faction so
exploited this disaster that Orloff himself
accused them of engineering all the
blilnders. By bluff, threats and even vio
lence he re-established his position.
Orloff"s wife is Princess Olga Constanti
nova Bielc>selsky-Bieloze.r$ky, a sister of
Uhe Prince Serge Bieloselsky, who is mar
ried to General Whittier's daughter.
Princess Olga Orloff is the best dressed
woman In St. Petersburg, and she has
been painted by every famous portrait
painter in Russia. She is on bad terms
with the Czarina Alexandria, who detests
the whole Orloff tribe and would like to
see Prince Vladimir driven from power.
This antagonism is supposed to be some
how connected with the affair of Orloft’s
brother, who died mysteriously “of con
sumption," in Cairo some years ago. Ru
mor declared that this Orloff was pas
sionately in love with the empress, and
that lie filed because of her. Vladimir
Orloff and his brother made this the sub
ject of a deadly quarrel, and the em
press took the younger Orloff’s part.
Since then she has attempted, but in
vain, to break the dominion which Vladi
mir Orloff holds over Nicholas II.
The story of young Orloff's dying love
Vlttt'OI >T KMHKR
Hit Ht al liulrr of IJu^lnud
* -■
I'HIXCK EMIL VOX El EKXTEMHsau
Thf Kaiser*# Most Intimate ErleuU
PKINC F. Vli \DIMIH OR MIFF
CIommI Muu to (lac Cur of
i
for the empress was made much of by
these who accept the proverb, “History
repeats itself." The founder of the Or
ion's’ family fortunes was a lover of Cath
erine II, and those who look for omens
remembered that Nicholas It resembles
in character and tastes Catherine’s mis
erable husband Peter III. The so-called
“Orloff romance" was, therefore, regard
ed as a black omeii for the future.
Recently Vladimir has been under a
cloud at court, but has re-established
himself by his latest project to construct
a great automobile road to Moscow.
Nicholas is an impassioned motorist, ai d
feels safer in his car than in a railroad
train. Advantage is taken of this circum
stance by Orloff In order to bring the
rear on solitary expeditions, where he is
removed from the influence of ministers
or of rival courtiers. In fact, by becom
ing a skillful and daring chauffeur, Or
loff has done more to qualify himself for
ruling Russia than he could have done by
serving a term in every ministry of the
empire.
England's “Runty” is Viscount Eaher.
■He first came into the public eye when
the kaiser referred to him in the now fa
mous Tweediuouth letter, which created
a sensation because of the German ruler's
discussion ol' British naval policy. Lord
Esher is constable of Windsor Castle and
in leferring with some feeling to his mys
terious influence on English policy, the
Kaiser said;
*1 do wish Esher would stick to thosa
drains of his.”
Probably the Kaiser is not the first nor ,
the last man to wish Esher into the ob
scurity of Windsor Castle. His lordship
was K!ng Edward's chief political advisor
and holds the same position at the court
of King George. lie is frequently con
sulted by the leaders of both parties. The
best proof of his power is to be found
in the circumstance that, being appointed
lead of the ail powerful council--bf im
perial defence by Balfour, he has bw'
tontinued in office by Asquith and the
liberals. This council is absolutely inde
pendent of parliament and the cabinet,
yet ii determines the most vital question*
of foreign policy ami practically' rules tn*
army and navy of,Great Britain, indeed,
it was Lord Esher who. through Lord
J labiate, lately minister of war ill the
Asquith cabinet, and now Lord Chancel
lor, brought the present territorial army
into existence.
It is hard to imagine Wilhelm of Ger
many yielding to the influence of any
man. however powerful. Yet there 5s one
unofficial German who winds him around
his finger with ridiculous ease. He is
Prince Emil von Fuerstenberg. the Kais
er’s closet friend and adviser. Several
times Prince Emil has been urged by hie
royal pay to assume the robes of chan
cellor. but he prefers to remain in the
background, where b* cwi wield his im
mense influence unseen and unsuspected
by the great majority of the German peo
•la

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