Wide Angle

Mohamed the fifth in Casablanca : a boulevard full of contradictions

A boulevard full of contradictions, a corner of the metropolitan city where you can find beauty at its finest and misery combined at once. It is Mohammed the fifth Boulevard, an iconic scene that witnessed several historical changes.


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For tourists it is a beautiful historical site with all its white buildings. It is also a gate to discover the urban culture of Morocco and an insight into the colonisation era that the country witnessed in the past. Mostly constructed during the fifties of the previous century, the boulevard had a great value in the past years being dedicated only to fancy trips and midnight walks. The traditional vibes of the avenue and its art deco made of it a sanctuary for families back in the seventies.

 «We used to love visiting Mohammed the 5th avenue; we loved the architecture, the balconies that used to be packed with plants and beautiful flowers, and the shops too. Now, it is dangerous to think of walking by night in the area.» an old couple explained while seated in front of the chamber of commerce. Very active, Mohammed the 5th avenue attracts so many visitors, vendors, beggars and homeless people. Two young girls called their visits to the boulevard bad and traumatizing «whenever we come here, we get catcalled and annoyed mostly by drunk men or drugged individuals. It is also very dirty and garbage is everywhere» the two girls yelled with angry and disappointed faces.

 The boulevard's monsters

Spread all over the boulevard, beggars of different age and sex have developed new ways of asking for money. Funny, entertaining or sometimes musical; Omar an old short man with a black hat, sits everyday in front of Lincoln Hotel, repeating one phrase in a continuous and rhythmic pace «one Dirham Please, god bless you and god protect you». Not very far from Omar’s spot, a tall homeless man with grey clothing and a stray dog following him, was collecting the remains of a cigarette that a passerby has thrown a few seconds ago. The man looked hungry, dirty and scary, and pedestrians avoided maintaining eye contact with him. «Not very chocking» a shop owner next to the boulevard’s main central market while pointing at the market’s door.

Despite being crossed by the infamous Tramway line in 2012, Mohammed the Fifth Boulevard remains one of Casablanca’s most captivating places. And that is because of its popularity and retro character.

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