Bogota has a strato system when it comes to housing. Actually, it might be throughout Colombia, but I’m not really sure. Stratos range from 1 to 6, and your utility payments depend on your strato. The higher stratos pay more and subsidize the lower stratos. Stratos 1, 2 and 3 have proportionally subsidized utilities while strato 4 just pays the regular price and stratos 5 and 6 pay extra to subsidize the lower stratos. At least that’s how it was back when I was living here in 2011. Generally speaking, the north is mostly strato 4 and up (with strato 1 and 2 pockets and invasiones in the far far north, west and east of northern Bogotá), and the south is mostly strato 3 and below (with some exceptions, of course). The west has undergone a lot of development in the last decade, with a lot of new strato 5 and 6 buildings coming up.
I’ve been doing mostly strato 5 and 6 exploration since I got here because my grandma lives in the north, but my sister and I took my grandma to the Bogotá Botanical Gardens (she was sorely disappointed by the lack of flowers…I guess she was expecting fields of them. I thought it was pretty nice!) and we passed some strato 3 and 4 neighborhoods on the way back. I decided to do a little taxi cab photo session on the way back to my grandma’s apartment. Bogotá is a massive, diverse city made up of hundreds (thousands?) of beautiful, ugly, generic, interesting, inspired, uninspired, vibrant, depressing, regal and dismal neighborhoods, but I think these cab pictures capture the overall vibe and feel of how the city looks as a whole. Again, there are sections and pockets of the city that are much nicer or much worse, but a lot of it looks kind of like this. Hope these photos give you a fuller, more realistic picture of what Bogotá looks like and feels like for most of its inhabitants. Most of these were taken from Carrera 30 near the Galerias and Chapinero neighborhoods.
In Bogotá, function usually trumps form. A lot of the city looks like it gained its architectural inspiration from the 1970s Soviet Union.
Bogotá mobile street cart food vendor.
More examples of characteristic Bogotá architecture.
Residential buildings. And my finger’s reflection.
Vans, cars, motorcycles, public transport, a bridge and residential buildings.
Hanging out in front of a shop.
Bogotá biker and Bogotá colors. When I lived in Bogota I often described it as a very gray place, but it’s acutally quite colorful.
Middle middle class neighborhood. This is probably strato 3, possibly strato 4.
Typical Bogotá neighborhood.
Bogotá has a lot of graffiti, some of it quite impressive. Personally, I think the best graffiti is in the center, but you can find pretty elaborate graffiti throughout the city.
More graffiti. This puente peatonal is pretty characteristic of Colombia. Large roads and highways often have them so people can get from one side to the other. It would actually be kind of nice to have some of these in the U.S! But maybe a little less industrial looking.
Riding a bike and chatting on the cell. Another typical neighborhood middle middle class neighborhood.
Crossing strato lines.
These last two pics are from the Bosque Popular neighborhood, where the Botanical Gardens are. In Bogotá, the term barrio popular refers to lower strato neighborhoods and are generally strato 3 or lower. In Barrios populares, houses are often in various states of construction, with families adding floors when they save up enough money. Interestingly, houses generally dominate lower stratos while apartment buildings dominate higher stratos.
Another photo from the Bosque Popular neighborhood. Aren’t those bike lanes nice??? My best guess is that this is a strato 3 neighborhood and apartment rentals likely go for $300 to $600, depending on size. Considering the minimum wage is less than US$300 and many professionals earn between $600 and $1,000 a month AFTER earning a college degree (a teacher’s starting salary is about US$600 a month), I think Bogotá is a relatively expensive city.
Categories: Bogota, Colombia, Colombian culture, From a Moving Window