Discover the gallery of characters from the now-defunct Bar Chicago del Paral·lel

* The author is part of the community of readers of La Vanguardia.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
15 March 2023 Wednesday 22:48
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Discover the gallery of characters from the now-defunct Bar Chicago del Paral·lel

* The author is part of the community of readers of La Vanguardia

Without any doubt, the current Avinguda del Paral·lel, known as the primitive Avenida del Marqués del Duero and later as Avenida de Francesc Layret (between 1932 and 1939), was from its origins the most transgressive street in Barcelona.

Not in vain was, at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the most transgressive, wild and permissive place of recreation preferred by the people of Barcelona, ​​including the bourgeoisie, where the most suitable environment for celebrating their night outs was found.

One of the pioneering establishments that opened its doors on said avenue was Botillo Chicago, the first bar with history on the avenue, inaugurated in 1894, at the corner of Avenida Marqués del Duero 82, with Ronda de San Pablo.

It was located inside some arcades in the basement of the building, on the Marqués del Duero side, next to the old Simó Pharmacy.

The owners of the Botillo de Chicago, given the narrowness of the premises in which a long marble bar stood out, had taken advantage of the space that was under the arcades to fit out some round tables, also made of marble, to expand the business and locate the clients where they could be comfortable and sheltered from inclement weather.

Four years later, in 1898, in another empty lot that was in front of the Botillo Chicago, a place dedicated to the world of entertainment opened its doors, known as the Catalan Pajarera, which two years later became the Petit Moulin Rouge and, later , achieved international fame by becoming the incomparable music-hall El Molino.

Initially, in front of the Chicago, taking advantage of the wide sidewalk, stalls for street vendors of trinkets and used objects began to be set up, which over time were set up on Sundays outside the San Antonio market.

One of the most famous clients that Chicago had was the athlete José Homedes, who in order to earn a bonus devised a type of bet to offer to novice clients. He struck up a conversation, boasting of his good physical condition, commenting that he thought he would be able to get up to the door of Montjuïc Castle and return to the bar in less than 20 minutes. If the person fell for the trick and accepted the bet, he would lose the amount he had bet.

Another of the famous clients of the disappeared local was Nicomedes Méndez López. Possibly the name does not say anything to them as it is not known, although his name has gone down in the black history of the city.

Little known to the majority of citizens, Nicomedes Méndez was one of the official executioners of the city of Barcelona, ​​a job he had held since he began his career with the first execution in 1866 and ended with the last in 1908. He died in 1912 at 70 years.

A professional who served as head of the Court of Barcelona and, later, a substitute in Valencia and Zaragoza and who when criticized for his cold blood when executing his victims responded:

"I am not the one who kills that wretch; it is not the courts that order him to take his life. He himself is the one who kills himself with the crime he committed; he is the one who has sought his own end."

During a good part of the beginning of the 20th century, unionists, anarchists and bohemians met inside, who discussed their position in front of society and the problems that plagued the city in the first part of the 20th century.

Fame forced the company in 1920 to bring the façade forward to the level of the rest of the building and to remove the terrace below the porches in order to enlarge the bar.

The large influx of clients belonging to syndicalist and anarchist groups was the main reason why, on July 19, 1936, it was one of the meeting places where they conspired to abort General Franco's coup d'état. erected barricades of bags of earth and cobblestones in the street, to confront the coup military.

In 1939, once the civil war was over, the Chicago Bar underwent a major remodeling. Once the premises reopened, it began to receive visits from former clients who once again gave it that boisterous role characteristic of progressive assemblies.

In 1956 the owners of the Chicago, tired of the atmosphere that existed in the premises, which made it frequently visit the secret police to identify some of their clients, decided to make a radical change starting from the decoration. They contacted Ramón Carrera, who left the bar as a new business.

In 1968, the fever that Barcelona had to open bank branches made the owners of the premises give in to the offer of a bank, which has occupied the premises ever since.

On the occasion of this circumstance, a son of the Poble Sec neighborhood, the journalist Manuel Tarín Iglesias, director of EAJ1 Radio Barcelona creator of the Ondas awards, wrote an article about the disappearance of this bar.