The Ecological Footprint of Mexico City Throughout 7 Centuries

Mexico City, 2013, NASA Earth Observatory
Mexico City, 2013, NASA Earth Observatory
  • Mexico City, around 20 million people live there today
  • Its dominant geo-morphology is an endorheic basin (a closed drainage basin) surrounded by mountains and hills
  • The area of the basin is 9,600 km2
  • The original basin hosted 5 lakes fed by 45 rivers
  • Most of the streams come from the top of the hills
  • The annual rainfall range in Mexico City is 863 mm and the average of the annual temperature goes from 12 to 16 °C (minimum -2 °C to maximus 32 °C)
The Original Basin of Mexico, based on Sanders et al. The Basin of Mexico, 1979
The Original Basin of Mexico, based on Sanders et al. The Basin of Mexico, 1979
  • This basin has hosted at least 6 different big human settlements in the last 2,200 years:
  1. Cuicuilco: 20,000 inhabitants ,year 200 BCE
  2. Teotihuacan: 100,000 inhabitants , year 400 CE *Sixth city in the world by population at that time
  3. Tenochtitlan: 300,000 inhabitants, year 1500 CE *Compared to Venice by European conquistadores
  4. Capital City of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, 1521: 130,000 inhabitants, year 1790 CE
  5. Mexico City after independence, 1821: 500,000 inhabitants, year 1900
  6. Metropolitan Area of the Valley of Mexico, 1940 onwards:
  • 1,800,000 inhabitants, year 1940
  • 13,000,000 inhabitants, year 1980 *IT BECOMES A MEGACITY
  • 20,000,000 inhabitants, year 2010
Mexico City, 2013, Google Maps Satellite View
Mexico City, 2013, Google Maps Satellite View
  • Jorge Legorreta Gutierrez, one of the great specialists of the basin of Mexico asked: How, in less than 500 years, a basin of one thousand square kilometres becomes the current land-base megalopolis dwelled by 20 million people?
  • There are multifarious explanations and those have been reviewed in thousands of books and publications
  • The visual aspect of this transformation is still generating analysis and material
  • Here, a time lapse view of the current central area of Mexico City
  • This is one of the biggest Ecological Footprints that human presence have produced on the planet
The Transformation of The Basin of Mexico.  Tomas Filsinger//INAH 2005
The Transformation of The Basin of Mexico.
Tomas Filsinger 2005
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