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Santa Clara University Archives :: Exhibits :: Urban Dreams / Suenos Urbanos :: The La Paz valley
University Archives - Urban Dreams / Suenos Urbanos - The Cities of La Paz and El Alto - The La Paz valley
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The La Paz valley
  The La Paz valley, 1997
Below Illimani, Choqueyapu, or "River of Gold" in Aymara, is the traditional name for the valley where La Paz rests. Founded by the Spaniard, Captain Alonso de Mendoza in 1584, the valley now filled with people, buildings and streets once protected a quiet settlement from the harsh weather of the Altiplano. Today growth in the valley has exceeded the limits of its walls and extended onto the plain above. Until the late 1980s these overflow neighborhoods (barrios) making up El Alto were part of La Paz proper, but became a sovereign municipality on July 16, 1988 after much debate for their political voice to be respected. Due to the rapid urbanization of the valley in the past twenty years native trees and shrubs have a difficult time growing. In the foreground, dark green patches of Eucalyptus trees have been planted to prevent erosion on the unstable dirt flanks of the valley. One can also see the two-lane highway (autopista) winding its way down from the rim of El Alto into the city of La Paz: a elevation change in over 1,000 feet between downtown La Paz (11,900 ft. / 3,627m) and the airport in El Alto (13,287ft. / 4050m).
  ©1996
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