Primate Cities: Mexico City


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  • This screen shot from Google Earth has blue points marking the spots where users have uploaded photos that they consider important. The linear feature in Western Mexico City highlights Paseo de la Reforma, it’s monuments and architecture as key places within the urban fabric of Mexico City.
  • Mexico City is a near perfect fit of the Latin American Model City. In fact, Larry Ford and Ernest Griffin made the model in a large part based on Mexico City.
  • The Elite western sector exemplifies some centralizing forces in Mexico City
  • This is the economic, political and cultural core area of Mexico City. This is a sampling of the monumental structures along Paseo de la Reforma and the surrounding tourism district. This is where tourist are frequently told to visit to “see Mexican history.” This landscape is a profoundly powerful place to reflect and shape concepts about Mexican identity.
  • An increase in services geared towards the elite in Primate cities. The Santa Fe mall is incredibly “high end” in terms of its clientele and goods.
  • Gated communities and opulent housing (with private security guards) are found on this western end of Mexico City.
  • The North and Eastern sectors display the “negative effects” of hyper-urbanization with squatter settlements, overcrowding, etc.
  • The Cuautepec area has millons of inhabitants, but not much water or electricity, a fence was built to stop more construction higher on the hill.
    Nezahualcoyotl houses over 3 million people (bottom right picture).
  • Too much urbanization leads to major ecological problems, especially since high altitude basins “trap” in pollutants.
  • So the NATIONAL government subsidies the CITY’S ecological problems by federally subsidizing public transportation (automobile exhaust
  • Metro terminal, major bus stops (Indios Verdes in Northern Mexico City)
  • Major disasters in a Primate city (such as the 1985 Mexico City earthquake or the Haiti earthquake) can have a devastating impact on the national economy.
  • Disproportionate amount of the nations cultural and heritage events and facilities are seen in Mexico City
  • Major cultural facilities, universities are all in the Capital
  • Mexico City itself (along with Xochimilco, the “Venice, canaled portion of the city) is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Disproportionate amount of cultural and heritage sites including this pilgrimage site, the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
  • At the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe you notice the righthand building looks crooked, because it actually is sinking because of the depletion of aquifers.
  • Always a capital and primate City—Since so much money from important families was invested in Mexico City real estate, they could not move the capital away from the ecologically illogical basin location. These externalities limit economic growth both locally and nationally. In 1631-1635 there were massive floods, and the Viceregal govt. of New Spain talked about moving the capital because of all the flooding. However, super-rich families and connected politicians had invested their wealth in this primate city location and demanded that the capital stay in a poor site.
  • Advances: the Goal of primate city Hinders: Rural periphery
  • Mexico City is located in the center of the main population belt of Mexico.
  • 1872 Railroad and other improvements in transportation and infrastructure would help the entire nation economy, so the govt. heavily subsidized the endeavor.
  • Efforts to convince foreigners that Mexico was culturally and economically sophisticated…worthy of INVESTMENT. This cultural (and racist) message was pushed by the national govt. and railroad companies to made Mexico City an important global city.
  • Primate Cities: Mexico City

    1. 1. Primate Cities: Case Study of Mexico City Positive and Negative Impacts on a Country’s Economy Magnitude: Disproportionately large population; Over 2 times larger than next largest city in country Significance: Cultural and political center; Hub for national economics and development
    3. 3. Colonial Castle in Urban Park Upscale Hotels Palace of Fine Arts Main Cathedral/Plaza Stock Market
    4. 4. Western Sector-Public Spaces
    5. 5. Western Sector-Residential
    6. 6. North and Eastern Sections
    7. 7. High Altitude Basin
    8. 8. Public Transportation
    9. 9. Federally Subsidized
    10. 10. 1985 Earthquake
    11. 11. 2010-Bicentennial
    12. 12. National Museum of Art Palace of Fine Arts National Archives
    13. 13. Xochimilco (Chinampas) UNESCO World Heritage Site
    14. 14. Catholic
    15. 15. “The Earth you walk on pilgrim is sacred…on this mountain springs two streams, symbols of the valiant Aztec race and the Spanish Missionaries, that submissively were united at the feet of MARY, mother and forger of the Mexican patria.”
    16. 16. Tenochtitlán-Interior Drainage 1631-1635 Import water, export waste
    17. 17. NAFTA Chiapas--high % indigenous
    18. 18. 1872 Railroad National project Later connections to USA
    19. 19. Centennial Celebration “[the majority of Mexicans are] individuals of the white race, Europeans and some mixed with European and indigenous blood; the Indians are now very few in number…”
    20. 20. Conclusions • Primate cities are seen as “too big to fail” • Primate cities solve about as many problems as they create • Mixed bag as a national economic strategy