Toltecas Street in Mexico City was named after the Tolteca Cement Factory that used to operate on it. After the factory closed in 1986, its buildings were razed and the only remnant of its industrial past was a lone brick chimney. The land that the factory formerly occupied was eventually acquired by real estate developers Grupo Copri. In 2005, under an initiative led by cultural developer Isaac Masri, Copri and Mexico City’s government reached an agreement that would see the terrain turned into a public park with cultural installations and artwork. That same year, artist Gabriel Macotela was commissioned to create the first artwork of the park.
With technical assistance from engineers of the local universities UNAM and IPN, Macotela intervened the post-industrial chimney, adding bronze cutouts to give it a decidedly non-figurative feminine aura. Completed a year later and dubbed “La Mujer Chimenea” (“The Chimney Woman”), Macotela dedicated this monument to the late poet Efraín Huerta. At 100 meters (328 feet), it was Mexico’s tallest monument until the 2011 unveiling of the 104-meter (341 feet) Stela of Light (home of the Centro de Cultura Digital).
The MXN $22 million cost of the sculpture was split by Grupo Copri and the Mexico City Government with the future park in mind. But the real estate developers eventually backed out of the plan and developed these grounds for private residences instead. Apartment blocks were built around the Chimney Woman, blocking its visibility from many of its former viewpoints and effectively privatizing it. The public park initiative eventually went ahead in a much-reduced scale resulting in nearby Bioparque Urbano San Antonio.
Know Before You Go
The sculpture now sits entirely within the Parque San Antonio private residential complex and can only be seen up close by visiting a resident or staying on-site. Rooms and apartments located in the complex are available for rent online. Given its size, The Chimney Woman is easily-seen from many points of the city. One of the best places to see the sculpture is the nearby San Antonio Urban Biopark.