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Modern Global City Mexico

Introduction of the City

  • Culture is the reason for the emergency in the city of Mexico.
  • One of the most populated cities in the region
  • Agriculture was the source of income
  • Unemployment as a significant problem throughout history
  • Most indigenous civilians migrated to America

The modern city of Mexico has a history of culture. Before the arrival of Europeans, the city was inhabited by indigenous people. However, due to difficult living conditions, most of this indigenous population has immigrated, crossing American borders. The indigenous people settled in Meso-America, the region currently known as Panama. Others migrated, settling at Columbus in 1492. Initially, Mexicans depended on the cultivation of crops such as corn. The modern city of Mexico comprises approximately 111 million people, making it one of the most populated cities in Europe after the United States and Brazil. About half of this population comprises the informal economy of employers (Vargara, 2021). The major challenge experienced by this population is poverty due to a historical lag in development, amongst other reasons. Poverty levels since history have been attributed to modernization and development programs funded by International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and loans from the U.S. The city has depended on loans throughout history, owning lenders for the longest time. Due to the high poverty level, most residents of Mexico city are unemployed, declining their purchasing power. For example, the city has a history of high malnutrition levels among children. Research shows that, in 1990, malnutrition was higher amongst children below seven years***. This has continued to affect the city residents.

The City Beginnings

  • Religious centre
  • Religious conquest
  • Spain took control of all aspects of life
  • Imposition of Spanish laws
  • Roman Catholic Church

The origin of the city of Mexico dates back to 1325 C.E. as Mexica. Initially, the town had enormous temples and palaces. This gave it its early identity as religious, residential, ceremonial, and military Marchants. During the final stages of the Spanish conquest, many indigenous Mexicans migrated to other parts of the neighbouring city, giving Spanish Colonial masters the power to establish their headquarters, which was named Mexico City. This became the capital of a sovereign Spanish colonial regime. This made Mexico home to more Spanish speakers than any other part of the world (Canclini and Liffman, 2020). The Spanish conquerors imposed Spanish laws and established Roman Catholicism, making Christianity the major religion of the day. They took control of all aspects of life, including dominating the land, wealth, and labor of the country. The Indians who were currently living in Mexico were subjected to forced labor for the Spanish overloads. Despite the political and social changes that have taken place for centuries, evidence suggests that Mexico still hosts Spanish cultures, as events are apparent everywhere in Mexico. According to historical evidence, Mexico has been home to many great civilizations, including the Olmec, the Maya, the Zapotec, and the Aztecs. For over 3000 years before the arrival of Europeans, these civilizations flourished.

Pre-industrial Revolution

  • Agriculture
  • Existence of mercury and silver mines
  • Spanish invasion
  • Transformation of rural industrial powers

Research has shown that the industrial revolution in Mexico started in the city of Monterrey, where diverse frontier trading posts were established. Initially, the indigenous Mexicans depended on agriculture for subsistence purposes. Moreover, the existence of mercury and silver mines gave Mexico an upper hand in the industrial revolution. However, the evolution of politics in the northwest region that bordered America, coupled with the construction of state structures, eventually gave rise to the industrial revolution. Additionally, the invasion by foreign powers, especially the Spanish invasion, brought about numerous changes, including establishing railway networks, which was one of the key factors in transforming the Mexican economy. Spanish invaders established various mining industries in the north of Mexico. The petroleum industry was developed on the north gulf Coast with foreign capitals (Hensel, 2022). Following the regional civil wars that took place in 1910 and lasted until 1920, known as the Mexican Revolution, Mexican regimes started transforming the largely rural areas into middle-sized industrial powers.

The period of 1800-1870

  • Mexican wars toward independence
  • Independence in 1810
  • Massive earthquake
  • Invasion of Mexico by the U.S
  • Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty of 1848

This period marked one of the important histories in the city of Mexico. The Mexican war towards independence commenced in 1810 in central Mexico. Mexico gained its independence from the Spanish colony in 1821. Mexico started rebuilding its social and political infrastructures to pave the way for the republican government. San Diego came under the control of Mexico for about 25 years. By 1800, the present city of Mexico had a population of approximately six million people. However, the population declined after a massive earthquake of 6.5 magnitudes hit the San Diago region, killing millions of people. After this catastrophe, Mexico City’s population remained steady for the next 85 years. The process of rebuilding Mexico was, however, halted after the invasion of Mexico by the U.S. in 1846. This led to the signing of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty in 1848. The northern territory of Mexico was given to the control of the U.S (Hensel, 2022). In the 1850s, major milestones took place in Mexico, for example, a formulation of a new constitution that clearly indicated the separation of power between the church and the state.

Early Industrial Period 1870-1960

  • Globalization
  • Formation of democratic state
  • Outbreak of war
  • Formation of United Provinces of Central America

The first Indian president of America, Jenito Juarez (1806-1872), Mexico was able to drive out the French, forming a democratic state that survived until 1872 after the death of Juarez. In 1876, Porfirio Diaz led a military takeover of Mexico and assumed presidency between (1876-1880) (Quiroz, 2020). Diaz promoted the reconstruction of the railroad, trade, and modernization to attract foreign investors. While under Spanish rule, Central America lagged in development and culture compared to other centers. This led to a revolution and outbreak of war between Mexico and Spanish South America. In 1873, the United Provinces of Central America was formed. They consisted Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. However, in 1841, destructive civil wars and political unrest ensued, leading to the split of five countries. With the industrial boom in the 1940s, by the 1960s, Mexico city had become a financial and service center.

Modern Period 1960-2000

  • Domestic migrations
  • Industrial revolution
  • Economic crisis
  • Neo-liberal economic policies

The second half of the 20th century saw rapid growth fueled by domestic migrations. The population of Mexico grew from 3.1 million people in the 1950s to 5.5 million in the 1960s and 14 million in the 1980s. The 1960s also saw suburbanization with tax incentives for industries located in Mexico and a ban on new housing developments in the Federal District (Krotz, 2020). However, the ban was lifted in 1968. During the 1980s, characterized by the economic crisis, Mexico experienced large-scale factory closure and a decline in rural-urban migration. In 1985, a severe earthquake struck the capital killing an estimated 10,000 people. From the 1990s to 2000, the city of Mexico, under the federal government, moved towards embracing neoliberal economic policies (Krotz, 2020). First-class business ventures, including hotels, malls, business offices and gated communities, sprang out in most parts of the city.

2000-Postmodern period

  • Art and culture
  • Flooding of investors
  • Political and economic stability
  • Post-election violence

Mexico remains politically and economically stable to date. The elections of 2000 and 2006 were dramatic for the city, with the left-wing losing to the right-wing opponents. This was heavily contested as it was termed a controversial race. Massive protests were witnessed, which were met by heavily armed security forces. Despite the turn of events, the country has continued to grow and expand, with investors flooding the city (Kiddle, 2020). The artwork has continued to expand in the city. A flurry of museums shows how the population value modernism in culture. Additionally, the city has witnessed artists from the United States and Europe touring the country.


Canclini, N. G., & Liffman, P. (2020). From national capital to global capital: Urban change in Mexico City. Public Culture, 12(1), 207-213.

Hensel, S. (2022). Social practices of representation: pronunciamientos in Mexico at the beginning of republican life. Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies, 28(2), 261-281.

Kiddle, A. M. (2022). Electrifying Mexico: Technology and the Transformation of a Modern City/Fueling Mexico: Energy and Environment, 1850–1950.

Krotz, E. (2020). Mexican anthropology’s ongoing search for identity. In World anthropologies (pp. 87-109). Routledge.

QUIROZ, E. (2020). For a Socioeconomic History of the Masons in the San Juan de México Tenochtitlán Partiality in Mexico City at the Beginning of the 19th Century. HISTORIA, 25(2).

Vergara, G. (2021). Fueling Mexico: Energy and Environment, 1850–1950. Cambridge University Press.


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