The barrio bravo, or “tough neighborhood,” of Santa María la Ribera is a place in transition. It is located far enough west of Greater Tepito, and close enough to prosperous Reforma, to be in the “safety zone,” but it also abuts Buenavista Train Station, which connects Mexico City’s Distrito Federal with a dozen cities and towns in adjacent, sprawling Estado de México.
Santa María la Ribera is most famous as being the new, permanent home of the Kiosco Morisco, or Moorish Kiosk. The reddish kiosk/pavilion was originally built by Mexican engineer José Ramón Ibarrola for the 1884 World’s Fair in New Orleans. Post-exposition, it was moved to the Alameda Central (Central Park of Poplars) on the western fringe of the Centro Histórico. The kiosk was eventually relocated to Santa María’s own Alameda de Santa María during the presidency of Porfirio Díaz, who ordered the building of a monument to Benito Juárez in its place at the Alameda Central. Residents of Santa María beamed with civic pride, and volunteered to look after the kiosk. At that time, their neighborhood was one of Mexico City’s wealthiest.