Upon first inspection, the Torre Latinoamericana does not seem overly impressive. As far as skyscrapers go, it’s fairly short and squat, and in need of a facelift. Once you learn the history of the building, however, this unassuming edifice suddenly becomes an icon of modern high-rise technology. And its viewing platform provides an unparalleled panoramic view of Mexico City.
Constructed in 1956, it was the world’s first skyscraper located on highly active seismic land. It is one of the only quake-proof highrises to withstand two major earthquakes. (The tower survived a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in 1957, and a magnitude 8.1 in 1985.) It has since become a national historic monument. This might help to explain its slightly run-down appearance, as any future renovations must respect the original design. The tower must retain it’s 1950’s modernist aesthetic, and architecturally sensitive face-lifts take time to plan and execute.
The observation deck
Located at the top of the tower is a large observation deck that provides a panoramic view of Mexico City. On one of our last days in Mexico City, we decided it was high-time (pun intended) that we took advantage of the Torre Latinoamericana’s excellent view. Getting to the “Mirador” (which means balcony or viewing platform in Spanish) is a relatively easy task. You walk into the ground floor entrance and buy a ticket to the top. There is a very clearly labeled kiosk beside the elevators. They put a paper bracelet on you, and you’re good to go up and down the tower for the rest of the day. (Though we didn’t, it would probably be interesting to return at night.)
As part of your entrance fee, you get free admission to a newly renovated museum exhibit. It’s located a few floors below the outdoor viewing area, and it’s worth a visit. Take a few minutes to wander through the short maze of historic images and info-graphics that tell the story of the building and the area. The panoramic view of Mexico City from the top is spectacular, and on a good day you can clearly see the distant ring of mountains that encircle the massive Valley of Mexico.
The air quality in Mexico City can vary from day-to-day, and the views from the tower are best on a clear day. So if a beautiful clear day crops up, it’s worth changing your plans to hit the tower… it might be your last clear day in the city. (We learned this the hard way, but the views were still spectacular.)