• Photo: Hawkatl | Dreamstime.com

Cerro Ancon and Balboa

For the better part of the 20th century, the area to the west of Casco Viejo held the border between the American Canal Zone and Panama City proper, and it continues to be an area of stark contrasts. Busy Avenida de Los Mártires (which separates the neighborhoods of El Chorrillo and Santa Ana from Cerro Ancón [Ancón Hill]) was once lined with a chain-link fence; it was named for Panamanian students killed during demonstrations against American control of the zone in 1964. To the west of that busy avenue, which leads to the Bridge of the Americas and the other side of the canal, rises the stately buildings of the former Canal Zone, whereas the area to the east of it is dominated by slums. Aside from Casco Viejo, and the pedestrian mall on Avenida Central south of Plaza Cinco de Mayo, the areas to the east of that avenue should be avoided. The eastern side of Cerro Ancón holds the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Museum of Modern Art) and the tourist village of Mi Pueblito. The western slope of Cerro Ancón holds the stately Edificio de la Administración del Canal (Panama Canal Administration Building), which overlooks the lawns, trees, and buildings of Balboa from a ridge.

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