Chapultepec

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Chapultepec

Chapultepec (chäpōōl´tāpĕk´) [Aztec,=grasshopper hill], 1,600 acres (650 hectares), park in Mexico City. It was originally developed as a residence for Aztec rulers. A castle built on a hill there in the late 18th cent. as a summer home for the Spanish viceroys later became the traditional home of the rulers of Mexico. Chapultepec, heavily fortified, was the scene of spectacular fighting during the Mexican War; U.S. Gen. Winfield Scott ordered the storming of Chapultepec on Sept. 12, 1847, and it fell the next day. Nevertheless, its heroic defenders, particularly the "boy heroes" from the adjoining military college who preferred death to surrender, became for Mexicans a symbol of glory. Both Emperor Maximilian and, later, Porfirio Díaz, beautified the grounds and embellished the castle. In 1937, Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas declared the castle a museum of colonial history and ethnography. Today the park includes several museums, including the world-famous National Anthropological Museum, a boating lake, two amusement parks, and a zoo. The Inter-American Conference on the Problems of War and Peace, which met in 1945, is commonly called the Chapultepec Conference (see Pan-Americanism).

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