“The Prado was a very special place to me…
Lined with two rows of Royal Palm trees,
quite a beautiful sight to see.
Once a year, the base of the trees were hand-painted white…
It made the trees look royal and bold,
and they grew to a very tall height.
Large, white-washed homes, were parallel to the trees,
And when day turned to night, chugging down the Prado streets, came the truck dispensing its thick fog of DDT.
In one direction of the Prado, was the Clubhouse,
a fine place to eat…
Or, swim at the pool, buy a comic,
or go to the movies for a treat.
The Administration Building, with its 113 stairs,
sat high on Ancon Hill at the “other” Prado end…
I remember spending many hours sliding down that steep hill,
on a piece of cardboard, with a very special friend.
Cooling off from the tropical heat, by taking off your shoes…
Wading and playing in Goethals Monument,
was always a fun thing to do.
Once in a while, the Prado was graced,
with special, “soapflake” snow…
The bubbles would fly high above the trees,
for as long and far as the wind would blow.
The grass on the Prado was always bright green and soft,
due to the rainy season of at least nine months…
The Prado, such a beautiful place, I miss it so very much.
When the streetlights came on,
the Prado was lit up very bright…
It marked the end of the day, and the peacefulness of night.
The Prado will always be a very special place to me…
It will remain unchanged “forever”, in my heart and memory.”
© Snow W. Frost
The most outstanding project of the ex-Canal Zone was the new government center in Balboa, built in 1914-15 and designed by New York architect Austin W. Lord, at that time Dean of the Department of Architecture at Columbia University. The masterpieces of that grand complex are the Administration Building and the boulevard in front of it, called El Prado in memory of the famous Havana boulevard of the same name.
The World Monuments Watch included the Panama Canal Area on its List of One Hundred Most Endangered Sites for 2004-06, and specific conservation laws have been proposed recently, although their aims and priorities are not yet entirely clear. A first step has been to propose the Administration Building and El Prado as monuments, although there is strong state opposition to this designation.
Within the different communities there has also flourished a will to preserve their established character as “garden cities”.
Mesmerized by the beauty of this boulevard, flanked by two rows of Royal Palm trees, I took a picture of El Prado early in the morning of March 22, 2009. This is what I saw through the lens of my Birthday camera. Here we go.
As the Sun slows down its rapid pace across the blue sky and prepares to lie down and rest, and the Evening slowly emerges for a walk and a breath of fresh air, El Prado Boulevard puts on its magic black cloak that glows brightly in the dark. Nothing beats a scene like this at Balboa. Good Day.