14.1.08

mexico shrinking city


“a cleaner, safer and healthier mexico…” is what president calderón promised last may, as he planted a baby tree into the dirt, and announced the construction of the parque bicentenario (bicentennial park) on the site of the former 18 de marzo refinery in azcapotzalco (march 18 is the commemorative day of mexico’s nationalization and public monopolization of oil industries, in 1938). with the notable absence of mexico city mayor marcelo ebrard, calderón presented a plan for a park, a renewable energy museum and an aquarium as part of the urban improvement strategy to pour a little life into this much-neglected area which once stood as the industrial heart of the city.

mexico city is commonly recognized as a monster megalopolis, but actually, some parts of the city are shrinking. azcapotzalco, along with other inner-city areas, has been steadily loosing population since the 1980s. the city has tried to fight the emptying of these areas with measures such as the bando dos (edict 2), implemented in 2000 and dropped last year after criticism surrounding speculation, which restricted the construction of new housing in the city to the central delegaciones. azcapotzalco has had its share of hopeful regeneration projects, such as the recent tecnoparque, a wannabe cutting-edge office park built in an old industrial lot.

despite the efforts, azcapotzalco still has an eerie character, the whole area gives out a sense of abandon. the metro refinería, once a key transport node for the local industrial workforce, is now practically a ghost station, a striking underground vault with a four-story electrical escalator worthy of a futurist film set, hanging under an enormous concrete dome, plunging down more than 30 mts into the ground, peopleless.

truth is, before they can breath life into the district, authorities have to make sure they wont be killing the life they want to bring in. when it comes to site remediation, it's pretty clear that ornamental trees aren't enough to do the trick.

3 comments:

BC Planning said...

Wow, you dont hear too much about Latin American cities shrinking...this is interesting.

Chuy90023 said...

Mexico City itself may or may not be shrinking, but the 2000 census revealed that it had not grown at all since 1990. Mass exodus of middle-class chilangos after the '85 earthquake to various parts of the country is credited with this, while poor, rural immigrants from the southern states continue to arrive in DF. The result is that 'el ombligo de la luna' is becoming poorer but provincial cities throughout Mexico are gaining greater cultural life, as chilangos' demand for theatre, music and other similar services is spawning a richer cultural industry there.

Ivonne said...

I'm writing the introduction of a book entitled "shrinking cities S/N" to be published by the University of Guadalajara and would like to quote your blog and metro station photo. With the following reference:
Ballesteros, M. (2008) Mexico City shrinking city, candyland post, January 14, 2008, http://sweetlittlegame.blogspot.com/2008/01/mexico-shrinking-city.html,
Would you have any objections?
Thanks,