From the air, you get a feel for the massive sprawl of the city. On the ground, you are overwhelmed by the density and complexity. Mexico city is full of people, it’s kind of dirty, but tropical, warm. Lots of concrete everywhere. The city is built in so many layers, the buildings meld and stack together like an ecclectic collector’s overstuffed curio shelf. There is a huge mix of apparent income in the buildings here, informal housing abounds, on top of more formal housing, contained by rings of stores and restaurants. And suddenly you’ll catch sight of an ancient baroque Cathedral. Traffic was not bad on the highways, perhaps because it wasn’t a rush hour. A few massive glittering towers puncture the oceans of mostly low rise construction. So far, people here are genial and accommodating.
Mexico City reminds me a bit of Shanghai, with the tropical feel and layers of history and poverty and the excitement of a major city. It’s not as slick (although I havn’t been to the Pudong here) and the pulse is not as fast and apparent. It also reminds me of Buenos Aires, although there was something more stately (and a lot slower) about that city that is lacking here, as though the Portenos took more civic pride in the upkeep and appearance of the city, as they took pride in their own appearances. I really wish Saori was here to experience this with me. I can’t wait to see her in May.
I’m living in a somewhat more affluent neighborhood of the city, actually beyond the boundaries of the distro federal, and so tomorrow we will see how hard it is to get to the centro historico.
Urban and architectural explorations from Mexico City to Stuttgart Germany through the eyes of a iterant architectural designer