In the Restauradores neighborhood, Liberty Avenue—downtown's spine—was laid out in 1879. What started as an elegant rival to the Champs Élysées has lost some of its allure: many of the late-19th-century mansions and art deco buildings that once graced it have been demolished; others have been turned into soulless office blocks. There are, however, still some high-class hotels on the lower and mid-level sections, mixed in with international fashion outlets and the
odd theater. Vehicles roar down both sides. It's still worth a leisurely stroll up the 1½-km (1-mile) length of the avenue, from Praça dos Restauradores to the Parque Eduardo VII, at least once—if only to cool off with a drink in one of the esplanadas (garden cafés) amid the plane trees.