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Notes on the Geography of Spain: Madrid: Photo 51

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Mckenzie wrote in the 1820s that he came to the Alcala. "Here we found a number of asses which had brought lime to the city. The commodity was piled in a heap, and the owners were sitting on the bags, dozing, or singing songs, and waiting for purchases; while the donkeys, covered with lime-dust, were lying as motionless as the stones beneath them, or standing upon three legs, with heads down and pensive. Having turned to the right, we went in the direction of the Puerta del Sol, looking attentively on both sides to the balconies, to see if there were any with white papers tied to the rails, to show that there was a room to be let" (I, 128).

Less than a decade later, Ford wrote uncharacteristically that the Alcala was "one of the finest streets in Europe." By 1900 streetcars ran up and down. By then, the buildings seen by Mackenzie and Ford were being demolished and replaced. The tower of the Circulo de Belle Artas is in the distance here. The building under the globe is the Alcázar Theater. The building with the quadriga is the 1923 Bank of Bilbao Building by Ricardo Bastida y Bilbao. (Merged repeatedly, it is here signed BBVA for Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria.) On the right is the Banco Espanol de Credito.

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