The Ing. Gonzalo Peña Manterola Market is more commonly called the Mercado Cartagena. It’s just outside Metro Tacubaya in one of the City’s busiest and most emblematic neighborhoods.
The market opened on July 22, 1957, and dates to the closing of an older La Paz Market. That one, even bigger, was demolished to make way for an expansion of Parque Lira and vendors were divided between this market and the Mercado Tacubaya Becerra.
The Cartagena name comes from the Portal and Plaza de Caragena which stood here until the 1950s. The “Portal” was a commercial building that sheltered some vendors, many more of whom filled the plaza with a semi-permanent tianguis or street-market.
The present market is named for a prominent engineer who lived in Tacubaya for most of the first half of the 20th century. Ing. Gonzalo Peña Manterola is best known for interceding on behalf of the public, to preserve local housing, and frequently donated to the area’s needy. He worked to replace the La Paz Market with the two mentioned above and the Mercado de San Pedro de los Pinos.
Today, the Cartagena Market is in the center of the downtown Tacubaya transit hub. Beautiful shots of it appear in the 2001 film, Perfume de violetas. That film’s punk rock soundtrack fits squarely with the area’s more recent contributions to local music and street culture. But the area’s history goes back much further.
The market has had to adjust to being not just for produce and food. Today, it’s become a market for fashion, furniture, cell phones and all of the accoutrements that make up contemporary urban life. Taking up a good city block, it’s worth a long look around.