1628 image (from mexicomaxico.org)
For some reason I found this week that image of Mexico city in 1628, drawn by Juan Gómez de Trasmonte and conserved at the Archivo General de Indias. A century after the conquest the city is still surrounded by lakes, and the structure of city blocks is apparent.
I also found that image of a mural by Diego Rivera (XXth century), representing the pre-hispanic city. Sure that is not a historical city, but I like the image.
Diego Rivera, National Palace, Mexico (image from wikipedia)
A- Macroplaza (Government center, arts and history Museums), B- Canal de Santa Lucía, C- Parque Fundidora
Monterrey has long had the image of the industrial powerhouse of Mexico. From the 1980’s there has been a tentative to build a more positive image, beyond smoke columns. First it was the Macroplaza (some 500 m of gardens connecting the main power centers and the classical museums, not unlike some US squares in a typology quite different from European Squares), and the the Parque Fundidora, an old steel mills site which has been turned into a park. Since the mid 1990s there has been a series of works to revive the canal de Santa Lucía, an ancient small river that has been turned in a navigable channel and linear corridor connecting both spaces; the Rio Santa Catarina, which is the main water course in the city, has been transformed in a linear park, but seems less well cared for . According to many sources, these possitive investment in public spaces have not been in parallel with much needed improvements in basic urban facilities in most of the urban tissue, as it has been the case in other cities also confronting a productive transportation (cities located in richer countries, no doubt).
Mexico is a giant country: a straight line from Cancun to Tijuana measures about 3.200 km, about the distance from Lisbon to Helsinki or Mumbai to Bangkok. And there can be an impressive distance between neighbouring streets when it comes to quality of life. The Sectorial Programme for Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development, published in December 2013, lays out the policies that the 2013-2018 administration pledges to apply in these domains.
The text describes the current condition of the country as far as urban development and housing are concerned, with substantial deficits. It is difficult to know what the future will bring in such a complex country; besides, there is no financial perspective in the document. But it give an overall vision of the problems. It can be downloaded at:
http://www.dof.gob.mx/copias.php?acc=ajaxPaginas&paginas=todas&seccion=SEGUNDA&edicion=255381&ed=MATUTINO&fecha=16/12/2013 (beware, the text itselfs begins at the page 65 of the PDF)
When you look at Mexico from Europe there is an image of a young country, with high birth rates. But as in most countries in Latin America this is changing; a relevant economic growth (albeit not that well distributed) and the results of some policies have these countries in the midst of a demographic transition that can lead the in two decades to age pyramids much closer to the ones nowadays common in more northern countries. As of today, these are still rather young cities.
Share of households with a head 60 or over
In central Mexico City the families in which the head (in the census sense) is 60 or over are clearly a minority (the orange grid is 2 km). The historical core around the Zócalo (A) has very few, just the opposite of most European historical cores. There are areas as colonia Jardín Balbuena (B) or Rincón del Bosque (D) which have high family incomes, where older family heads are more relevant. Colonia San Juan de Aragon (E) has also a relevant share, but their situation must be different, as this is not an affluent area. The Tlatelolco area (C), one of the high symbols of the Mexican social housing architecture, has a rather reduced presence of such aged family heads, even as its building years would be in many countries a pre-requisite for an aging population. Anyway, these results are limited to the age of the head of the family, so there can be more data to analyse.
It is striking to see the central areas as nearly the youngest ones.