The Great Depression Online

Great Depression Online Archive Issue:

Larger Than Large

Great Depression Online
Cuidad de Mexico (Distrito Federal), Mexico
June 27, 2008

Inside This Issue You Will Discover…

*** Larger Than Large
*** El Zocalo
*** Future Primitive
*** And More

Larger Than Large

Mexico City makes Los Angeles look small,” we remarked to our wife, Maribel, while peering out the airplane window just prior to landing.

While we’ve been here before, we still find its enormity staggering.  And here’s why…

The population of Mexico City is 8.7 million; by comparison the population of Los Angeles is 3.8 million.  And the population of the Mexico City metropolitan area is 19.2 million; while the population of the Los Angeles metropolitan area is 12.9 million.

What’s hard to believe, is the pace of activity on the ground actually makes Los Angeles feel sleepy and the Los Angeles Highway system seem calm, organized, and sound.

~~~~~~Stroke Prevention~~~~~~

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El Zocalo

Many of Maribel’s uncles, aunts, and cousins, met us at the airport and took us to her Grandmother’s residence in La Colonia Malinche, an old residential part of Mexico City.  Then, after some tacos and beans from a street corner stand, we went to El Zocalo, which is the historic center of Mexico City.  Officially named the Plaza de la Constitución, El Zocalo has been the center of Mexico City since pre-Hispanic times.

Entering El Zocalo

Entering El Zocalo in Mexico City

The vast square of El Zocalo covers what was once the center of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec city founded in 1325.  When Cortez and his Spanish Conquistadores first gazed upon the broad valley that is now Mexico City, they couldn’t believe their eyes. Bernal Diaz del Castillo, one of Cortes’ soldiers describes what they saw…

“We were astounded at the great number of people and quantities of merchandize…dealers in gold, silver, and precious stones, feathers, and embroidered goods, and male and female slaves…chocolate merchants…Then there were the fruit sellers, and the women who sold cooked food, flour and honey cake and tripe…pottery of all kinds…timber, boards, cradles, beams, paper, and some reeds that smell of liquid amber and are full of tobacco…Some of our soldiers who had been in many parts of the world, in Constantinople, in Rome, and all over Italy, said that they had never seen a market so well laid out, so large, so orderly, and so full of people.”

Then, like all ambitious conquerors, they sacked it.

And right there, at the center of Tenochtitlan, they constructed El Zocalo and what later became Mexico City.

Catedral Metropolitana El Zocalo

Catedral Metropolitana - El Zocalo - Mexico City

Future Primitive

The architectural contrasts are startling…16th century European cathedrals surrounded by modern skyscrapers.  At the north end of El Zocalo is the Catedral Metropolitana – built between 1573 and 1813 – which incorporates many different architectural and artistic styles ranging from 16th century Castille to 18th and 19th century Neoclassical. 

And the people – after over 400 years – reflect this distinctive convergence of cultures…and centuries-long intermixing of the Spanish and Indian races.

Aztec Woman El Zocalo

M.N. and Maribel with Aztec Woman - El Zocalo - Mexico City


M.N. Gordon
Great Depression Online

P.S.  According to the National Stroke Council, strokes kill 150,000 Americans each year... and leave another 200,000 disabled.  The little-known fact is that one out of three of these stroke victims is under 65.  Learn more about how to prevent a stroke here: Preventing and Recovering from a Stroke.


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