Mexico (city, Mexico)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Mexico (city, Mexico)

Mexico or Mexico City, Span. Ciudad de México (Méjico), city (1990 pop. 8,236,960; 1991 met. area est. 20,899,000), central Mexico, capital and largest city of Mexico.

The Modern City

Mexico City forms the core of the Federal District and is the commercial, industrial, financial, political, and cultural center of the nation. Among its diverse and important manufactures are chemicals, petroleum, food products, textiles, automobiles, machinery, pharmaceuticals, and consumer items. Population has increased rapidly in a city that had already spread out into many residential sections called colonias. Iztapalapa and Gustavo A. Madero are the largest suburbs of the Federal District; Coyoacán is the oldest, with a palace built by Cortés. The metropolitan area of Mexico City is currently the largest in the world, but it suffers from severe overcrowding. There are many run-down neighborhoods without essential services and large areas inhabited by squatters; it is estimated that close to one third of the city's residents are without sewage facilities.

Geography and Environment

Mexico City is located near the southern end of the plateau of Anáhuac, at an altitude of c.7,800 ft (2,380 m). The horizons of the city are almost obscured by mountain barriers, and the peaks of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl are not far off. The climate is cool and dry. Much of Mexico City's surrounding valley is a lake basin with no outlet, and in the past during the rainy seasons, mountain runoff swelled the lakes.

From the time when the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán stood on an island in Lake Texcoco—now the heart of the metropolis—measures have been taken to protect the city and provide for expansion by draining Texcoco and the other lakes, Chalco and Xochimilco. In the 17th cent. the Spanish viceroys, notably Louis de Velasco, the younger, initiated important works. In 1900 a central canal was completed that reached to the headwaters of the Pánuco River. The Caracol [Span.,=snail], a 12-mi (19-km) spiral canal fed in turn by longitudinal canals begun in 1936, acts as an evaporating basin, from which valuable minerals are taken.

Drainage and artesian wells have lowered the water table so that the surface crust, formerly supported by subsoil water, can no longer sustain the city's heavier buildings, which are sinking some 4 to 12 in. (10.2–30 cm) a year. Some of Mexico's finest buildings have been damaged, among them the old cathedral (begun in 1553 on the site of an Aztec temple) and the Palace of Fine Arts. Modern office buildings have been shored up with pilings.

In addition to being built on soft subsoil, the city is located in a region of high seismic activity. Earthquakes in 1957 and 1985 caused substantial damage. Overcrowding has also become a major problem in Mexico City, and traffic concentrations, combined with the surrounding valley's atmospheric conditions and Popocatépetl's sulfur dioxide emissions, have resulted in heavy air pollution.

Measures have been taken to attack the pollution problem, and some progress has been made. Since 1989 automobiles have been required to stay off the roads one business day a week. The city's buses have been completely replaced, many major industries have had to convert to low-sulfur fuels, and the government closed the oil refinery.

Points of Interest

The city, with its local color and cultural attractions, is a focal point for tourists. The ruins of the Aztec Templo Mayor have been excavated, and many monuments of Spanish colonial architecture remain in spite of subsoil and seismic threats. The cathedral and the National Palace are on the great central square, the Plaza de la Constitución, where the streets of the old town crisscross in a rough grid. From the Plaza the great avenues span out to the far sections of the capital. Many colonial churches exist, notably on the Paseo de la Reforma, which cuts across the city to Chapultepec.

Public buildings of the 19th cent. have a ponderous grandeur that shows French influence, but the newly built edifices are starkly modern. Murals by the modern artists Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros grace both older buildings and newer ones (e.g., the Palace of Fine Arts, the National Palace, and the National Preparatory School). The National Autonomous Univ. of Mexico, founded in the 16th cent., is housed in University City (opened 1952), built on a lava outcrop in the outskirts. Praised in its day for its modernist style, it is now joined by the even more dramatic National Center of the Arts. Opened in 1994, the complex houses the fine and performing arts schools and includes a library and performance spaces.

Among noted religious and recreational centers are Guadalupe Hidalgo and Xochimilco. In popular Chapultepec Park, a children's museum opened in 1993; the nearby national auditorium provides first-rank entertainment and the zoo has been completely redone. The Frida Kahlo Museum (Casa Azul), Diego Rivera Studio Museum, and Dolores Olmedo Patiño Museum contain works by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The Leon Trotsky Museum is Trotsky's former home and site of his assassination.

History

The city has been the metropolis of Mexico since before New Spain was created. It is built on the ruins of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán, which was begun by the Aztecs c.1345 and razed by Hernán Cortes in 1521. During the colonial period Mexico City served as the capital of the viceroyalty of New Spain and was for a time the cultural and social center of North and South America. It was taken in 1847 by Winfield Scott's American army, after an inland march from Veracruz in the Mexican War. The French army captured Mexico City in 1863, and Emperor Maximilian, crowned in 1864, did much to beautify it before it was recaptured by Mexicans under Benito Juárez. In the years of revolution after 1910 it was a magnet for divergent insurrectionary forces. Perhaps the most spectacular incidents were the occupations (1914–15) by Francisco Villa and Emiliano Zapata. The summer Olympic games were held in Mexico City in 1968.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Mexico (city, Mexico)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.