TWO CITIES, TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS

Manuel Arvizu

 

Since 2005, I have been living in Campbell, California. It is a small town located in the southern part of Santa Clara valley, just west of San Jose, which is the Capital of Silicon Valley.  Campbell is just as beautiful as Santiago de Queretaro in Mexico, better Know as Queretaro. Queretaro is located in the center of Mexico 220 kilometers north of Mexico City. Before I came to the United States, I lived in Queretaro for 6 years. I have seen several differences between these two cities: their role in history, their architectural styles, and their environment.

 Campbell and Queretaro both have an interesting history. The city of Campbell was named in honor to its founder Benjamin Campbell. In 1851, Benjamin Campbell bought 160 acres of land in southern Santa Clara Valley. He cultivated grains on it. This area later became Campbell’s historical downtown. For many years Campbell was surrounded by orchards, which provided the cities of San Jose and Santa Clara with fruit. In 1878 Campbell sold some land to a railroad company; soon Campbell became an important rail center. The Campbell Fruit Growers’ Union was a well known organization in California; the union’s businesses were the principal reason to found the Bank of Campbell in 1985. In a different way, Queretaro has a fascinating history. Queretaro was founded in 1531.  It was named Santiago, but in 1656 the city was renamed “The Novel and Royal City of Santiago de Queretaro.” Queretaro is very important in Mexican history because many of the earliest actions of the Mexican Independence movement occurred there in 1810. Queretaro has been the capital of Mexico three times. In 1847 during the Mexican-American war, Queretaro was made capital of the republic after the invasion of the United States of America into Mexican territory. Twenty years later, in 1867 during the French intervention, Queretaro was the last capital of the Spanish empire. This period ended with the execution of Maximilian on the Hill of Bells outside the city. On February 5, 1917, Queretaro became the capital of Mexico for the third time when the political constitution of the United Mexican States was promulgated in the Teatro de la Republica. While both cities played important roles in history, they were very different but had an important impact on the development of these respective communities.

The architectural style of each city is unique. In Campbell there are many places to visit. Downtown Campbell is a beautiful place with interesting buildings dating from the early 1900s. One of the most beautiful constructions in Campbell is the “Ainsley House.” This house was built in the English Tudor-style in the 1930s. Nowadays, it has become the centerpiece of the Campbell Historical Museum. Another important building in Campbell is the Campbell Community Center, where a Redwood tree was originally planted on May 11, 1903 by then President Teddy Roosevelt. Many of the buildings in downtown Campbell were built in the style of English country cottages. In contrast, Queretaro’s downtown was built much earlier in the 1500s in a baroque style. In the mid-1900s the city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Many of the most beautiful buildings in the city are churches. In the eastern part is the Convent of the Holy Cross. To the west of the convent is the “Plaza de Armas,” a beautiful square surrounded by great baroque buildings, including the “Casa de la Corregidora” where the State Government has its offices. The city’s most famous landmark is the “Acueducto.” It is a 74-arched aqueduct that is 1,280 meters long and has a maximum height of 23 meters. It was built to take water to the Convent of the Holy Cross from a spring on the east side of the city. Its construction took two years from 1726 until 1728.

Campbell and Queretaro also differ with respect to their population and environment. Campbell is a small suburban area which has an estimated population of 39,200 people. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.8 square kilometers. The city has several ponds in Los Gatos Creek Park, which is a great place for Campbell residents to have fun and enjoy nature. Campbell is a very clean city, and  many people who come from other cities notice that there is almost no pollution in Campbell. Queretaro, Mexico is a much larger municipality with a population of over 734,000 people. The city covers 759.9 square kilometers. While Queretaro is one of the cleanest cities in Mexico, as an industrial city many of its rivers are contaminated with polluted water that is released by factories. Both cities have a Mediterranean climate with temperatures ranging from 50 degrees Fahrenheit in winter to 90 degrees in summer. Queretaro does not have many parks as Campbell does, but many people use the public school grounds to practice some sports.

            I have lived in many cities here in America and in Mexico, too. However, the two cities that have impressed me the most are Campbell, California and Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico. These two cities are wonderful places to live and have very different historical backgrounds, architectural styles, and environmental aspects.  I am sure that anyone who visits either of these two places will enjoy their special cultural sites and their beauty.