Global Network

Mexico City, Mexico


Built on an island in Lake Texcoco in the early fourteenth century, the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan was the largest city in the Americas. Situated at more than 2000 meters above sea level in a closed mountain valley, this city—which eventually would become Mexico City—was rebuilt after the Spanish conquest and served as the political, administrative, and financial center of a major part of Spain's colonial empire.

Mexico's industrial development was disrupted during the revolutionary period (1911-1920), but by the late 1930s the country experienced a period of sustained economic growth, fueled in part by rapid national population growth. Mexico City in particular saw its population swell, as massive rural migration to the city augmented its natural growth curve.

Urban agglomeration in 1990 was 20.2 million, and is estimated to reach 25.6 million by the year 2000. This growth represents an annual rate of change of 2.4% for the decade.

A defining aspect of Mexico's population is its youth; in 1980, 48.9% of the total population was in the 0-19 age group. Another important figure is the 40% of the total population that live in "informal settlements." Average life expectancy in Mexico City is 66 years for males and 72 years for females.

The most important industrial activities undertaken in the city include the manufacture of clothing, furniture, electrical goods, and other goods.

Health and Environment
Pollution may be Mexico City's most serious problem. The geographical location of the basin, its meteorological characteristics, and the emission of air pollutants combine to produce smog unparalleled in any other Latin American city.

It is estimated that at least one quarter of the more than 10,000 tons of solid waste generated daily is dumped illegally or remains in the streets. Doctors report that it is difficult to gauge the likely permanent effects of such varied forms of pollution on human health.

Health in Mexico City varies considerably by economic class. The infant mortality rate in poor areas is up to three times as high as that in the rest of the city.

Infrastructure and Social Services
—Traffic ranks among Mexico City's most serious problems, causing an estimated daily loss of 1.3 million man-hours of productivity. Studies calculate that the city's 2.6 million private automobiles are responsible for 50% of traffic congestion and approximately 80% of air pollution.

Mexico City has a large metro system, containing 120 kilometers of track with more currently under construction.

Water—82% of the population receives indoor running water. In squatter settlements, the percentage drops to 50%. To ensure an adequate supply of water the city has had to pump an ever-increasing volume from remote supply sources at lower altitudes.

Sewerage—An estimated 3 million residents in peripheral areas are not hooked up to the sewerage network. In these areas raw sewage is discharged into riverbeds or else pollutes underground aquifers by seeping into the ground.



Integrated System for the Recycling of Organic Waste (SIRDO)
The low-income population of Il Molino bought land through collective credit from FONHAPO. (?)They have incorporated several types of innovations into their community. Their houses display three to four different styles of self-help construction using prefabricated modules made on site with local materials. Household waste water, garbage, and sewerage are conducted by above-ground rubber tubing into a SIRDO, which dries and filters it to create water clean enough for aquaculture and community gardens, as well as fertilizer used for home gardening and reforestation and which may eventually be sold for a profit.

Lake Texcoco
For the past fifteen years this massive ecological project, an initiative of the federal government, has been reclaiming a salty lakebed from an infested dustbowl. Steps have included treatment of the city's sewerage and drainage waters, the creation of small dams and fresh water reservoirs, and the implementation of an extensive reforestation program. The reforestation effort today accounts for some 25 million new trees, regenerating the land through anti-erosion measures while also introducing original plant- and wildlife.

Considered to be one of the most effective ecological restoration projects ever undertaken, the initiative's accomplishments include the formation of five artificial lakes to store both recycled water and rainwater, the construction of two sewerage recycling plants, and the promotion of education programs to create an understanding of the environment. In addition, the project has aided in establishing a wildlife refuge.



  • Lic. Gustavo Esteva, Opción, S.C , Presidente
  • Arq. Roberto Eibenschultz, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Unidad Xochimilco Rector
  • Dr. Hugo García Pérez, Planificación del Departmento del Distrito Federal Director General
  • Arq. Gustavo Romero, Directorio del Centro Operacional de Vivienda y Poblamiento, A.C. (COPEVI) Presidente
  • Arq. Alejandro Suárez, Centro de Vivienda y Estudios Urbanos (CENVI), Director
  • Lic. Miguel de la Torre, Instituto SEDUE, Asesor
  • Lic. Manuel Arango, Restauración Ambiental, A.C.
  • Arq. Pedro Gastón Pascal, Gerente
  • Dr. Iván Restrepo, Centro de Ecodesarrollo, A.C. (CECODES), Director
  • T.S. Martín Longoria, Dirigente de Grupos Populares
  • Arq. Alfonso Iracheta, Planeación Urbana y Regional, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México Director de Carrera
  • Dr. Mario Waissbluth Centro de Technologías y Innovaciones UNAM, Director
  • Arq. Angel Mercado Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Periodista y Coordinador del Seminario de la Ciudad de México
  • Sr. Jorge González Aragón, Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, (Programa de Estudios Municipales) Investigador
  • Arq. Jean Robert Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos Centro de Información sobre Tecnología Alternativa
  • Antropólogo Eduardo Nivon Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana
  • Arq. Cecilia Martínez Leal Secretaria de Desarrollo Urbano, Asesor
  • Arq. Enrique Ortiz Flores Mega-Cities Project México, Coordinator

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