The American Trade Hotel’s building dates back to 1917 and was the headquarters for the American Trade Developing Company. At the time it was the first skyscraper in Panama. After World War II, the neighborhood started its decline and by the 1970s the building was abandoned and vandalized. Before being bought by a development firm in 2007, it was the headquarters of the Pentágono gang. The abandoned building used to be a crack house called “Castillo de Greyskul”. Some of the old gang members have been rehabilitated and work in the hotel.
Plaza Herrera was an empty lot that arose from the fire of 1781 that devastated the old neighborhood. As the government authorities decided against rebuilding, the space became a natural plaza initially known as Plaza of Triumph, where parties, bullfights, and celebrations of military victories took place. In 1887 the Plaza became Plaza Herrera to honor the national hero General Tomas Herrera who was an important figure in Panama’s independence from Spain. He was governor of Panama when the country was a part of Colombia and was a leader in the movement to separate Panama from Colombia. He died in Bogotá from a sniper’s bullet in 1854. There is history in places. Each person adds to the history of the place and the place adds history to the person.
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