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Bananatown - City Walk Santa Marta - Colombia

United Fruit Company once had a company town carved in this city that housed its corporate offices and executive housing. But, it is a mystery where it actually was here in Santa Marta. Ask locals, and most don’t know; a few might tell you the Barrio Gringo was “allá por El Prado.”

 

From Calle 25 to the Río Manzanes, between Carreras 4 and 5, was where the executives lived in a walled neighborhood. People had to pass through one of two guarded gates and it had its own railway station where the company’s families boarded. Vestiges of the enclave still exist. Part of the 6-meter-high fortification remains near Carrera 5 and Calle 29. The streets are lined with one-story Florida Keys-styled bungalows with expansive grassy lawns. The Centro Colombo-American is in one of these. The Clínica El Prado had been the company hospital and the Atlantis Building at Carrera 5, between Calles 23 and 24, was the headquarters.

 

The installations of UFC had extended to Carrera 2. In this zone were lower-level workers’ housing and other installations, like the estación del lámbrico, which can still be seen in the middle of an abandoned lot.

Location:
Santa Marta, Colombia

City Walk Types:
History

Getting There
Walk southward down Carrera 4 to Calle 24, and begin roaming the streets through this part of town. The neighborhood will soon be obvious by the architecture.

Travel Tips: The company facilities in Santa Marta paled in comparison to the town United Fruit Company had out in its plantations at Sevilla; those were complete with casino.

 

Jimmy Porto, director of the Centro Colombo-Americano (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-noon, 2-6 p.m. Calle 26 4-100), grew up in the Bananatown and is delighted to talk about what life was like in the neighborhood.

Price Description: Free.

Relative price: Free

Travel Skills: None

Visit Aracataca, Ciénaga and other towns in the banana zone. Check out the sites associated with Simón Bolívar: his former tombs in Santa Marta’s Catedral; Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, where he died; the Museo de Oro Tairona, in the former Aduanas building, where his body reposed before burial. Tour the other museums in Santa Marta and El Rodadero.






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