Avenida Central was the city’s great commercial core in the first half of the 20th century; though its heyday has ended, the swarm of humanity packing into its various shops, bars, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses attest to ongoing vibrancy. The classic stretch extends from Plaza Santa Ana to Plaza 5 de Mayo, where art deco and streamlined moderne landmarks are still on view. El Banco Nacional, the former Kodak building, and “La Pollera”—thus nicknamed for the resemblance its balconies bear to the traditional full skirts of the Los Santos region—figure among them. These avenue blocks are pedestrian-only; peddlers and street vendors selling every imaginable snack and trinket abound.
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Hand-Painted Signage in Panama City
Avenida Central is a lively street outside Casco Viejo, full of discount clothing stores, cafes, restaurants, and food carts. Many of the businesses feature hand-painted signs, which add to the festive atmosphere of the street.