Mexico City

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Mexico City:

see MexicoMexico
or Mexico City,
Span. Ciudad de México (Méjico), city (1990 pop. 8,236,960; 1991 met. area est. 20,899,000), central Mexico, capital and largest city of Mexico.
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, city, Mexico.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mexico City


(Méjico, México), the capital of Mexico and the country’s most important economic, political, and cultural center. It is situated in the southern part of the Meseta Central, in an intramontane basin at an average elevation of 2,240 m. The climate is subtropical. Temperatures average 11.6°C in January and 16°C in July; the temperature of the warmest month, April, is 18°C. The annual precipitation is 757 mm. Mexico City has an insufficient water supply; unregulated use of groundwater, the principal source of water, has caused settling in several parts of the city. Earthquakes are frequent, the last occurring in 1961. Population, 7,006,000 (1970). The population of the conurbation of Greater Mexico City is about 8.6 million (1970). Excluding the Federal District, the population was 368,000 in 1900, 2,234,000 in 1950, and 3,353,000 in 1967.

Administration Mexico City and its suburbs constitute the Federal District, which is administered by a governor appointed by the president of Mexico.

History Mexico City was built on the site of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, which had been founded in 1325 and destroyed by the Spanish conquerors in 1521. It became the capital of the colony of New Spain. Popular uprisings against colonial oppression broke out in the city in 1624 and 1692. On Sept. 28, 1821, Mexico City became the capital of independent Mexico. During the Mexican-American War of 1846–48 it was occupied by US troops in 1847–48, and during the Mexican expedition of 1861–67 it was occupied by French forces from June 1863 to February 1867. During the Mexican Revolution of 1910–17, Mexico City was occupied in 1914 by peasant partisan detachments. In the 20th century the city became the country’s economic and political center, and after World War II it grew rapidly as new industries were established.

Economy Mexico City owes its growth and importance to its central location in the country’s transportation network. The city is a railroad and highway junction and has a large international airport. Mexico City’s industry continues to develop despite the absence of local raw materials and energy sources. The Federal District accounts for about one-third of the country’s work force and about two-fifths of the value of the industrial output; Mexico City accounts for one-fourth of state investments. The most important industries are automobile assembly, electrical engineering, textiles, chemicals, food processing, conversion metallurgy, and the refining of oil and gas, brought by pipeline from the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Mexico City is one of the largest commercial and banking centers in Latin America. Over population and the high concentration of industrial enterprises and transportation facilities have resulted in the rapid deterioration of the natural environment.

Architecture The Old City, with its rectangular network of streets, is situated on the site of the ancient Aztec capital. The Old City’s central square, the Constitution, or Zocalo, is dominated by the Cathedral (1563–1667, principal architects C. de Arciniega and A. Perez de Castaneda), completed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and combining baroque and classical features; the baroque church Sagrario Metropolitano (1749–68, architect L. Rodríguez); and the National Palace (1692–99, architect D. de Válverde), completed in 1929. Other noteworthy buildings in the Old City include the Jesus Nazareno Hospital (1524–35, architect P. Vazquez), completed in the 20th century, and numerous 17th-century monasteries. The basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (1695–1709, architect P. de Arrieta) is located in the Gustavo Madero district. An ancient pyramid dating from about 450 B.C. has been preserved at Cuicuilco, now in the district of Tlalpan, and there is an Aztec pyramid in the northern suburb of Tenayuca. In the 18th century Mexico City became the largest city in the Americas. It was replanned in 1737, and in 1750 a plan was prepared for a new district in the east. Many churches, Jesuit colleges, and luxurious villas were built.

Mexico City grew rapidly in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Imposing avenues were laid out, such as the Paseo de la Reforma, and to the west a commercial district with boulevards and a park was built. Middle class districts arose in the west and southwest, and industrial and working-class quarters were built up in the north and east. Classicism predominated in the architecture of the first half of the 19th century (School of Mines, 1797–1813, architect M. Tolsá), giving way to eclecticism in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries (Palace of Fine Arts, 1904–34, architect A. Boari). The first half of the 20th century saw the modernization of Mexico City: the Insurgentes Boulevard was laid out in 1924, an overall city plan was drawn up in 1932, and several housing projects were begun in 1948. High-rise hotels, banks, and trade centers were built in the central commercial districts. A university, a stadium, and new quarters were erected in the south, and in the north new industrial districts lacking the basic amenities were built to house 1.5 million newcomers from rural areas. Among the noteworthy buildings constructed between the 1920’s and the 1940’s are C. Obregón Santacilla’s Ministry of Public Health (1926–29), J. Villagrán García’s Institute of Hygiene (1925–26) and National Cardiology Institute (1939–43), E. Yáñez’s building of the electrical workers’ trade union (1938–40), and M. Pani’s National Conservatory (1945). The largest 20th-century complex, University Campus, was built between 1949 and 1954 under the direction of the architect C. Lazo, according to a general plan drawn up by M. Pani and E. del Moral; L. Barragán was the landscape architect. It covers about 200 ha and includes some 40 buildings, of which the most notable are the rector’s hall (architects M. Pani and E. del Moral), library (architects J. O’Gorman and others), and Olympic Stadium (architect A. Perez Palacios).

The 1950’s and 1960’s saw the construction of high-rise buildings; residential complexes such as the Miguel Alemán and Benito Juárez housing projects; new districts, notably, Pedregal and Nonoalco-Tlatelolco, with its Plaza of Three Cultures; and the Ruta Amistad beltway. Many building projects have been undertaken by the architects P. Ramírez Vázquez (National Auditorium, mid-1960’s; Aztec Stadium, 1968), L. Barragán (villas in the Pedregal district), J. O’Gorman (private residences), F. Candela (Church of La Virgen Milagrosa, 1954; and Sports Palace, 1968), and M. Goeritz (towers at the entry to the Satellite City, 1957–58).

Outstanding examples of monumental-decorative art include the murals by D. Rivera, J. C. Orozco, and D. Siqueiros in the National Preparatory School and the Palace of Fine Arts and the mosaics by Siqueiros, J. Chávez Morado, and O’Gorman on the facades of the buildings of University Campus. Among important sculptures are the statues of Charles IV (bronze, 1803, M. Tolsá) and Cuauhtemoc (bronze, 1878–87, M. Noreña). The Monument to the Revolution (1933–38) was designed by the architect C. Obregón Santacilla.

Educational, scientific, and cultural institutions The country’s leading higher educational institutions are located in Mexico City, including the National Autonomous University, the National Polytechnic Institute, the Workers’ University, the Women’s University, the American, Ibero-American, and Anahuac universities, the La Salle de Mexico University, the Higher School of Engineers, the National Conservatory, the Drama School of the National Institute of Art, the National School of Agriculture, the National School of History and Anthropology, the National School of Plastic Arts, and the School of Medicine and Public Health.

Scientific institutions include the National Academy of Sciences, the Mexican Academy of Languages, the Mexican Academy of History, the Mexican Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation, the Mexican National Academy of Medicine, and the National Astronomical Observatory. There are more than 20 large libraries, of which the most important are the National Library, with more than 800,000 volumes, and the library of the National Academy of Sciences, containing more than 250,000 volumes. Mexico City has 13 museums, including the National Museum of Anthropology, the National Museum of History, the Gallery of Modern and Ancient Art, the San Carlos Gallery of Painting and Sculpture, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Religious Art, and the Museum of Mexican Flora and Fauna.

The National Opera, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the chorus of the music department of the National Institute of the Arts are based in Mexico City (1972). Concerts are given at the Del Bosque, Manuel M. Ponce, and Ferrocarrilero halls, and plays are performed at the Jimenez Rueda, Xola, Hidalgo, Reforma, Insurgentes, Tepeyac, and Del Granero theaters. There are also the Children’s Theater and the Guignol Puppet Theater.


Vargas Martinez, U. La ciudad de Mexico (1325–1960). Mexico City, 1961.
Marroqui, J. M. La ciudad de Mexico, vols. 1–3. Mexico City, 1900–03.
Romero Flores, J. Mexico: Historia de una gran ciudad. Mexico City, 1953.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Mexico City

the capital of Mexico, on the central plateau at an altitude of 2240 m (7350 ft.): founded as the Aztec capital (Tenochtitl?n) in about 1300; conquered and rebuilt by the Spanish in 1521; forms, with its suburbs, the federal district of Mexico; the largest industrial complex in the country. Pop.: 19 013 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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