Mexico City in the first half of the 20th century

Archivo General de la Nación - México

Archivo General de la Nación takes you on a historical journey through life in the Mexican capital.

A Developing Society
Between 1900 and 1960 City and Valley of Mexico changed considerably. The sociopolitical transformations, generated by the process of modernization initiated in the years prior to the Mexican Revolution, affected the landscape, the environment and the lives of those who lived in the capital of the Mexican republic.

The lakes of Xochimilco and Chalco, located in the south of the Basin of Mexico, communicated with the capital through the Canal de la Viga. One of the favorite walks of the population, was to move in different types of transport, to visit different populations, until reaching the town of Xochimilco.

During the first decades of the 20th century, Mexico City experienced a stage of evident modernization, both in streets and buildings, as well as in the introduction of services and a new urban infrastructure. Likewise, the increase in the population impacted on urban growth.

The modern perspective replaced the old panorama of the capital of the Mexican Republic. Its new physiognomy contrasted with the lacustrine landscape and its canals, which characterized it for centuries.

Flaming high-rise buildings began to populate the streets and avenues of the central area of Mexico City. The traffic of automobiles, buses, cargo trucks and motorcycles, accelerated the pace of the city, illuminated by spectacular advertisements, which heralded a new commercial and service era, to meet the rising needs of the population.

The expansion of urban territory had its greatest impact on the extension of large avenues, such as Paseo de la Reforma and Avenida Insurgentes, which became the axis of urban modernization.

Large and small businesses supplied the population, which demanded an increasing number of merchandise. After the Second World War, during the decade of the fifties, the Mexican government sponsored a policy of import substitution and favored the production of manufactures. The industrial areas settled throughout the country and, above all, in the north of the capital.

Nuevos elementos, como el asfalto en las calles para el tránsito de automóviles, tranvías y otros medios de transporte público y de carga, arribaron al entramado de la urbe. Las nuevas edificaciones de hormigón emulaban a las construidas en ciudades europeas.

By 1960, the modern capital of the Mexican Republic became a great metropolis and replicated its growth model to other capitals of the states of the federation, such as Monterrey, the industrial city, capital of the state of Nuevo León; and Guadalajara in Jalisco.

City of Mexico and its urban area constituted the Federal District, conformed territorially by an enormous space rural and small towns, towns and cities, governed by town halls. As of 1929, the representative municipal system was replaced by a Department Central, linked to the Federal Government; Y the political and government decisions would be taken by the President of the Republic.

The modernist architecture of Mexico City can be considered a revolutionary legacy, by mixing avant-garde elements with the ideology of nationalism.

The economic development of Mexico City caused a change in architecture. The speed of progress slowed the complex aesthetic solutions, heritage of the nineteenth century. In substitution, an architectural style was consolidated that bet more on pragmatism, supported by the values of order, distribution and accuracy.
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