Mega City2: Evolution and Diversity of Mega Cities
MEXICO CITY: Luxury Residential Areas and Illegal Occupied Areas Divided by Challenging to Improve Water Environment in the Valley of Mexico, Mega City2: Evolution and Diversity of Mega Cities, Shin Muramatsu, Naoko Fukami eds., pp.341 -346.
Paperback: 440 pages
Publisher: Tokyo University Press (2016)
This article examines current housing development in Mexico City, based on a study of initiatives to improve the water environment related to the six lakes that once existed in the center of the Valley of Mexico. Mexico City is located on the Central Mexican Plateau at 2,240 m above sea level, and it has the highest altitude among the world’s major cities. Mexico City has been facing water management problems since the days of the Aztec Empire. The site of present-day Mexico City was once home to six lakes. The Aztec Empire had built a network of dikes to hold back the waters of the lakes. This was a water city that effectively controlled the water environment while maintaining the lakes. In contrast, after the invasion by Spain, Mexico City became a colony, but it retained the city sub-divisions of the Aztec civilization. However, in the process of reconstructing the city, the lakes were drained out and filled in. As these six lakes were a closed water system with no outlet for the lake waters to drain, every rainfall led to serious environmental issues and also significantly impacted the living environment. With the rapid concentration of population in Mexico City since the 20th century, the development of subdivisions for the wealthy class started first in highland regions and areas, which faced lesser flood damage. On the other hand, the strata of the population that could not access the housing market formed “colonias populares (informal housing for the general public)” in low-lying areas that faced greater flood damage. Since the 2000s, due to changes of government and promotion of neo-liberalism, the gap between the rich and the poor has been significantly growing, and the segregation of the rich and poor classes is becoming more apparent. In the background of the formation of these housing districts lie geographical factors where the urban heritage of the Aztec Empire as a water city was negated by reclamation but was, simultaneously, inherited by the city subdivisions.