Text and photograph by Miguel Omaña.
Taken from Buenavista district, this photo shows how the city looks looking to the South. I must say I was incredibly lucky to get such a view in a smog-infested city. After an afternoon rain, the sky of this ancient land tends to clear up for the remained of the day. This permits the eye to gaze the mountains and volcanoes that surround the gigantic urban sprawl.
Mexico City is no stranger to skyscrapers.
What you see below is Insurgentes Avenue, the longest non-stop avenue in the city, and apparently one of the longest in the world. The avenue leads towards the wall of buildings one can easily spot — this barrier is in fact Reforma Avenue. Contrary to what you see in cities of America, Canada, and Australia, the tallest buildings in Mexico City are not located in its downtown area. If any, Mexico City’s historical downtown has mainly old colonial and 19th century buildings (and a couple of 20th century grey-ish buildings here and there).
One can also see the mountains, which form part of the Ajusco peak (locally known as Cerro del Ajusco). One has to cross those mountains to go to say — Acapulco.
And even way before the Mexica Aztecs, many capitals thrived for centuries in this valley.
Mexico City is no stranger to skyscrapers. Way before the Hispanic people arrived to Anahuac — the original name of Mexico — the city had impressive buildings many stories high. Then called Mexico Tenochtitlan, the city knew tall buildings before New York. After all, the Big Apple is credited for having the for skyscrapers. But the Mexica — the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan, also known as Aztecs — were used to see massive palaces and tall structures (something that impressed Cortez). And even way before the Mexica Aztecs, many capitals thrived for centuries in this valley once occupied by a huge lake (actually various interconnected lakes).
The Colhuas, the Tepanecas, the Chichimecs of Tenayuca, Xaltocan, Zumpango, many knew tall buildings — except nobody built them a la New York. Earthquakes are a constant in this valley, and for millenia people had erected tall buildings in such a way that the rest of the world see them as pyramids. They’re actually not pyramids, those are in Egypt, temples were built to emulate mountains. What is sturdier that a firm mountain? That’s why ancient Mexican architectural prowess revolved in the mimic of nature itself.