magazine / revista


Streetwalking in San Miguel is Not Easy
Street-Walking in San Miguel is Not Easy

by Joseph Toone

The popular song lyric about the street with no name wasn’t written with San Miguel de Allende in mind. Our streets all have names, often several. That combined with a Dr. Seuss-like, nonsensical numbering system, that even the Cat in the Hat would admire, causes endless confusion.

The neighborhoods were first organized by the Spanish. The Centro was reserved for the Spanish. The four oldest areas (barrios) were set aside for the indigenous, La Palmita, Ojo de Agua, Valle del Maiz and Guadiana.

Colonias are the areas a bit farther afield from the Jardin, such as San Antonio (the largest neighborhood), Guadalupe (named for the wife of the owner of the factory that is now an art gallery) and others.

The word fraccionamiento is used for a planned development while enfondant implies an area of similar looking houses built at the same time and assigned to owners as part of the Mexican mortgage system. Assuming you have steady work and are under a certain age (normally thirty-five so you live long enough to pay off your mortgage), you qualify to buy one of these low cost houses over a twenty or thirty year loan.

I mention all this because neighborhood names repeat themselves and if you want a taxi to take you enfondant La Luz it is a different place than fraccionamiento La Luz and so on. If you blithely say to the driver La Luz, then it’s anyone’s guess where you’ll end up.

On to street names…

Given their obsession with the local mines and converting the locals, the Spanish named the streets after Jesus, Mary, the saints and related religious notions like the Immaculate Conception or the Ten Commandments. After the revolution from Spain many of these streets were renamed for the local founding fathers like Aldama, Allende and Hidalgo. Today, if you look at the actual street signs, you can see, in small print under the current name, what the street was called before, if you ignore the misspellings and odd use of abbreviations.

Farther afield from the Jardin geographic names popped up for the surrounding orchards and their corresponding plant life.

Recent subdivisions tend to focus on themes. Colonia Guadalupe prefers artists and songs while Colonia Olimpo leans towards Greek gods and goddesses. Often streets change name every block or so just to keep you on your toes. Best of luck streetwalking on Chorro/Barranca/Murillo/Nunez/Calzada de la Presa as they are all the same street. And, yes, street names are repeated around town. Allende, Soledad, San Juan and Guadalupe are oft-repeated favorites.

Calle means street and a callejon is an alley. A cuesta is a hill or slope. A calzada implies a paved highway though I’d question that logic given our use of cobblestones. Libramiento is a freeway, while round-abouts are glorietas.

Some street names are logical if you know where you are. Huertas is for the orchards that once surrounded San Miguel. Muertos (Street of the Dead) leads down to the St. John of God cemetery. Animas is for all the Lost Souls that roamed the streets as ghosts following their recent executions in Plaza Civica. Chorro is for the spring where the town was founded. Calvario is for Calvary, the hill Jesus died on and the street that intersects it is named for his partner in death, St. Dimas.

Canal, Sollano, Hermandez Macias and Homobono are named for important people and families. Meanwhile important dates like 5 de Mayo for getting the French out of Mexico, 15 de Septeimbre for when the Revolution against Spain started and 20 de Enero for my mother’s birthday (well, and Allende’s also) are the names of important streets. [Ed. note: I once got a delayed laugh from my girlfriend's adolescent son when, walking along, I mentioned a street, “42 de Julio.” It took him a minute.]

One of the most touching street names has to be Indio Triste for Sad Indian. Named for the indigenous lad that played sad music daily for his wife suffering in the indigenous hospital, then behind the St. John of God Church. The musician felt his music would be carried by the angels to his ill wife and make her well again. I can only assume it did the trick. His spousal devotion won’t be forgotten, if only for the unusual street name.


Joseph Toone is Amazon's bestselling author of the San Miguel de Allende Secrets series of books and TripAdvisor's best rated historical walking tour guide. For more information contact or visit History and Culture Walking Tours, also on FaceBook.

Subscribe / Suscribete  
If you receive San Miguel Events newsletter,
then you are already on our mailing list.    
   click ads
copyright 2017