The Colony of Pico del Paulo: Past and Present of Madrid’s ‘Yellow Triangle’


Arganzuela has blocks built a century ago for workers. Neighbors denounce that prostitution and drug trafficking have taken over the stronghold

There are more than 1,500 homes in the Pico del Paulo neighborhood.Victoria Gallardo
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Some neighbors, at least, remember how years ago the children of the Pico del Paulo neighborhood used to play ball in the street. as well as how the elders took out their chairs in the street to exchange faith in the afternoon, until late at night. In that lifestyle, only the hanging clothes that are visible on the windows reveal the plot of intimacy to those who live behind them. Extending his memory, he says that these houses, designed almost a century ago, were Designed and Manufactured for Old Slaughter Workers and Legazy Market. Attracted by the opportunities capital offered for cheap and unskilled labor, many families staged an exodus that brought with them the need to build new homes.

the architect Fernando de Escondrilas, who had previously worked on similar projects, such as the Retiro and Primo de Rivera neighborhoods, was in charge of planning the construction of the 74 houses and their more than 1,500 residences, which still stand in the Arganzuela district at that intersection today. Delimitation of Paseo de la Chopera, Paseo de las Delicias and Calle Guillermo de Osma. The name of the neighborhood responds to the triangular plot they occupy, whose silhouette, seen from above, is reminiscent of a folded handkerchief. Painted a yellow that is dotted with some chipping and various humidity, the common feature of these homes is an attic on their four floors. Inside, they have apartments that do not exceed 50 square meters.

According to the architects Amaya Mateos and Tomas Villanueva in their Constructive and structural analysis of the Pico del Paulo neighborhoodPublished in 2015, the houses were designed “after the law”. cheap house And it represents a change in the trend of building neighborhoods of single-family homes in the early twentieth century, by building blocks of apartments of medium-high density. Colony structure and construction are economical, but its exterior is more showy,” he says.

In the same document, it also stated that possibly one of the measures adopted to reduce costs was the original absence of tiles in the toilet: “Walls of the WC shall be painted with washable enamel to a height of 1.20 m. paint, which replaces the tiles that are customary to lay in these rooms”. Conversely, the report also shows how the exterior of the buildings is differentiated from the rest of the buildings: “Its composition is distinctly classic and careful, Even though they are cheap homes for workers, the brick of the façade is hidden under a plaster that has been painted in various colours, thus giving the buildings a representative character of upper-middle class neighbourhoods”.

Hundreds of workers from neighboring industrial slaughterhouses and cattle markets lived there for decades. Since those years, the newspaper library throws up endless details. Old-time chronicles talk of children turning into adults by forcibly marching in Digello ships. Burnt hands warmed by the fire of newspapers. Of a moisture, that of Manzanares, that penetrates the bone. The slaughterhouse, now converted into a cultural space, remained active until 1995, after it was closed due to poor sanitary and hygienic conditions and low productivity.

The colony of Pico del Paulo, witness to all this, is also responsible for the passage of time. who remarked with their bloody cloaks and weary faces when butchers came and went, Now they talk about drug trafficking and prostitution, They assure that it has penetrated many portals and houses, but their complaints are not heard. They also talk of quarrels and quarrels. Because of the fights that lead them to sleepless nights more than once. From a state of abandonment, they say, they have been established for many years.

This suspicion remains in limbo, however, according to neighbours, does not deter the prices of these houses from continuing to rise. Many of them are offered for sale on Idealista A price that touches 250,000 euros, Those that are inherited are being rented out for a short time. Meanwhile, life goes on in the new slaughterhouse, just steps away.

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