Mexico City

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Posted by bender 04/17/2009 @ 19:08

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News headlines
Mexico expected to enact liberalized drug law - Seattle Times
MEXICO CITY — Will Mexican cities become Latin Amsterdams, flooded by drug users seeking penalty-free tokes and toots? That is the fear, if somewhat overstated, of some Mexican officials, especially in northern border states that serve as a mecca for...
Tropical depression forms in Pacific off Mexico - The Associated Press
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Forecasters say a tropical depression has formed in the Pacific Ocean off the southern coast of Mexico. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the center of the depression was located about 200 miles south of Zihuatanejo,...
Mexico City's 31st annual gay pride march - Los Angeles Times
The 31st annual gay pride march took place in Mexico City on Saturday afternoon, starting at the Angel of Independence on Paseo de la Reforma and ending in the Zocalo, or grand central plaza. Around 350000 people attended, according to La Jornada...
Mexico Stocks Open Lower On Rising Risk Aversion - Wall Street Journal
MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--Mexico stocks opened lower on Monday with a grim economic forecast from the World Bank, a weaker peso and falling oil prices weighing on local shares. At 10:20 am EDT the IPC stock index was trading 2.4% lower at 23672.87...
Mexico signs agreement with Google to push tourism - San Jose Mercury News
AP MEXICO CITY—Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History signed an agreement with Google Mexico to promote archaeological and historical sites in a bid to revive tourism following the swine flu epidemic. The plan uses several elements of...
Mexico: Alone with the Aztecs? - Los Angeles Times
"It's just 38 days since my visit to Mexico City was cancelled, with the world staring into the abyss of a global pandemic and the expectation that no one would be visiting Mexico – without urgent cause – for a very long time....
10 People Murdered in Mexico - Latin American Herald Tribune
MEXICO CITY – At least 10 people have been murdered so far this weekend in separate incidents in Mexico, with four killings reported in the Pacific tourist resort of Acapulco and six others in the border city of Juarez, state officials said....
Mexican Budget Gap Swells Debt Load, Sparks `Looming Threat' of ... - Bloomberg
The Finance Ministry will issue 455 billion pesos ($34 billion) of bills and bonds in the quarter, up from 312 billion pesos a year earlier, said Manuel Galvan, a fixed-income strategist at the Mexico City-based firm that provides economic analysis to...
Café Tacuba, Mexico's rock 'n' roll survivors - Los Angeles Times
For the last 20 years, the definitive Mexico City band Café Tacuba has set a series of high-water marks for progressive Spanish-language rock, collecting critical hosannas along with Grammy awards and other trophies by the truckload....
Mexico City Gay Pride Parade Draws Thousands - Latin American Herald Tribune
MEXICO CITY – Thousands of Mexicans marched peacefully through central Mexico City in the 31st Gay Pride March at which they demanded improvements in gay rights, watched over by some 1500 police. All transpired in calm at Saturday's parade, Mexico City...

Mexico City

Official seal of Mexico City

Mexico City (in Spanish: ciudad de México, D.F., Distrito Federal, or México) is the capital city of Mexico. It is the most important economic, industrial, and cultural center in the country; the most populous city with over 8,836,045 inhabitants in 2008. Greater Mexico City (Zona Metropolitana del Valle de México) incorporates 59 adjacent municipalities of Mexico State and 29 municipalities of the state of Hidalgo, according to the most recent definition agreed upon by the federal and state governments. Greater Mexico City has a population exceeding 22 million people, making it the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere and the second largest in the world by population according to the United Nations and other organizations. In 2005, it ranked the eighth in terms of GDP (PPP) among urban agglomerations in the world. Aside from São Paulo it is the only Beta global city with 8 points in Latin America and ranked 25th among global cities by Foreign Policy's 2008 Global Cities Index.

Mexico City is also the Federal District (Distrito Federal in Spanish, and hence the abbreviation D.F.). The Federal District is coextensive with Mexico City; both are governed by a single institution and are constitutionally considered to be the same entity. This has not always been the case. The Federal District, created in 1824, was integrated by several municipalities, one of which was the municipality of Mexico City. As the city began to grow, it engulfed all other municipalities into one large urban area. In 1928, all municipalities within the Federal District were abolished, an action that left a vacuum in the legal status of Mexico City vis-à-vis the Federal District, even though for most practical purposes they were traditionally considered to be the same entity. In 1993, to end the sterile discussions about whether one concept had engulfed the other, or if any of the two entities had any 2005.html 150 Richest Cities in the World, 2005]</ref> conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Greater Mexico City (with a population of 19.2 million) had a GDP of $315 billion in 2005 (at purchasing power parity), ranking as the eighth-richest urban agglomeration in the world after the greater areas of Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, London and Osaka/Kobe, and the richest in Latin America; in 2020 it is expected to rank seventh with a $608 billion GDP, displacing Osaka/Kobe.

Mexico City is located in the Valley of Mexico, also called the Valley of Anáhuac, a large valley in the high plateaus at the center of Mexico, at an altitude of 2,240 meters (7,349 ft). It was originally built as Tenochtitlan by the Aztecs in 1325 on an island of Lake Texcoco. The city was almost completely destroyed in the siege of 1521, and was redesigned and rebuilt in the following years following the Spanish urban standards. In 1524 the municipality of Mexico City was established, known as México Tenustitlán, and as of 1585 it is officially known as ciudad de México.

After landing in Veracruz, Hernán Cortés heard about the great city and the long-standing rivalries and grievances against it. Although Cortés came to Mexico with a very small army, he was able to persuade many of the other native peoples to help him destroy Tenochtitlán.

Cortés first saw Tenochtitlán on 8 November 1519. Upon viewing it for the first time, Cortés and his men were stunned by its beauty and size. The Spaniards marched along the causeway leading into the city from Iztapalapa. Although Montezuma came out from the center of Tenochtitlán to greet them and exchange gifts, the camaraderie did not last long. Cortés put Moctezuma under house arrest, hoping to rule through him. Tensions increased until, on the night of June 30, 1520 - during a struggle commonly known as "La Noche Triste" - the Aztec revolted against the Spanish intrusion and managed to capture or drive out the Europeans and their allies. Cortés regrouped at Tlaxcala. The Aztecs thought the Spaniards were permanently gone. They elected a new king, Cuauhtémoc. Cortés decided to lay siege to Tenochtitlán in May of 1521. For three months, the city suffered from the lack of food and water as well as the spread of disease brought by the Europeans. Cortés and his allies landed their forces in the south of the island and fought their way through the city, street by street, and house by house. Finally, Cuauhtémoc had to surrender in August of 1521.

The Spaniards practically razed Tenochtitlán to the ground. Cortés first settled in Coyoacan, but decided to rebuild the Aztec site in order to erase all traces of the old order. Cortés did not establish an independent, conquered territory under his own personal rule, but remained loyal to the Spanish crown. The first viceroy of the new domain arrived in Mexico City fourteen years later. By that time, the city had again become a city-state, having power that extended far beyond the city’s established borders. Although the Spanish preserved Tenochtitlán's basic layout, they built Catholic churches over the old Aztec temples and claimed the imperial palaces for themselves. Tenochtitlán was renamed “Mixico,” its alternative name, as the Spanish found this easier to say.

The city grew as the population did, coming up against the lake’s waters. The 15th century saw a proliferation of churches, many of which can still be seen today in the historic center. However, flooding was a constant problem, and in the 17th century projects to drain and fill in parts of the lake were begun in earnest. This process would continue for most of the city’s history until the lakes disappeared. Economically, Mexico City prospered as a result of trade. Unlike Brazil or Peru, Mexico had easy contact with both the Atlantic and Pacific worlds. Although the Spanish crown tried to completely regulate all commerce in the city, it had only partial success. One way the Spanish tried to completely rule was religion, but even here success was not complete. Native practices survived incorporated in the indigenous’ practice of Roman Catholicism. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which originated with the vision at Tepeyac Hill to the north of the city’s borders in 1531, representing a post-Conquest adaption of the Aztec cult of Tonantzin, a mother goddess.

The concept of nobility transferred to New Spain in a way not seen in other parts of the Americas. A noble title here did not mean one exercised great political power as one’s power was limited even if the accumulation of wealth was not. The concept of nobility in Mexico was not political but rather a very conservative Spanish social one, based on proving the worthiness of the family. Most of these families proved their worth by making fortunes in New Spain outside of the city itself, then spending the revenues in the capital, building churches, supporting charities and building extravagant palatial homes. The craze to build the most opulent home possible reached its height in the last half of the 18th century. Many of these homes can still be seen today, leading to Mexico City’s nickname of “The city of palaces” given by Charles Joseph Latrobe in his book "A rambler in Mexico".

Independence for Mexico was declared by Agustin de Iturbide in 1821 after he and his army marched into the city. While Iturbide’s regime tried to keep as much of the old order as possible, he soon had to abdicate and Mexico was declared a republic in 1824, with Mexico City as its capital.Unrest followed for the next several decades, as different factions fought for control of Mexico. The Mexican Federal District was established by the new government and by the signing of their new constitution, where the concept of a federal district was adapted from the American constitution. Before this designation, Mexico City had served as the seat of government for both the State of Mexico and the nation as a whole. Texcoco and then Toluca became the capital of the state of Mexico. During the Mexican-American War, American forces marched toward Mexico City itself after capturing Veracruz. The invasion culminated with the storming of Chapultepec Castle in the city itself. The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in what is now the far north of the city. Events such as the Reform War left the city relatively untouched and it continued to grow, especially during the rule of President Porfirio Díaz. During this time, the city developed modern infrastructure, such as roads, schools, transportation, and communication systems. However, the regime concentrated resources and wealth into the city while the rest languished in poverty. This eventually led to the Mexican Revolution. The most significant episode of this period for the city was the La decena trágica ("The Ten Tragic Days"), a coup against President Francisco I. Madero and his vice president, José María Pino Suárez. Victoriano Huerta, chief general of the Federal Army saw a chance to take power, forcing Madero and Pino Suarez to sign resignations. The two were murdered later while on their way to prison.

The history of the rest of the 20th century to the present focuses on the phenomenal growth of the city and its environmental and political consequences. In 1900, the population of Mexico City was about 500,000. The city began to grow rapidly westward in the early part of the 20th century and then began to grow upwards in the 1950’s, with the Torre Latinoamericana as the first skyscraper. The 1968 Olympic Games brought about the construction of large sporting facilities. In 1969, the Metro system was inaugurated. Explosive growth in the population of the city started from the 1960’s, with the population overflowing the boundaries of the Federal District into the neighboring state of Mexico, especially to the north, northwest and northeast. Between 1960 and 1980 the city’s population more than doubled to 8,831,079.1980 - half of all the industrial jobs in Mexico were located in Mexico City. Under relentless growth, the Mexico City government could barely keep up with services. Villagers from the countryside who continued to pour into the city to escape poverty only compounded the city's problems. With no housing available, they took over lands surrounding the city, creating huge shantytowns that extended for many miles. This caused serious air and water pollution problems, as well as a sinking city due to overextraction of groundwater.. Air and water pollution has been contained and improved in some several areas due to government programs, the renovation of vehicles and the modernization of the public transport.

The autocratic government that ruled Mexico City since the Revolution was tolerated, mostly because of the continued economic expansion since World War II. This was the case even though this government could not handle the population and pollution problems adequately. Nevertheless, discontent and protests began in the 1960’s leading to the massacre of an unknown number of protesting students in Tlatelolco.

However, the last straw may have been the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. On Thursday, 19 September 1985, at 7:19 AM local time, Mexico City was struck by an earthquake of magnitude 8.1 on the Richter scale. While this earthquake was not as deadly or destructive as many similar events in Asia and other parts of Latin America it proved to be a disaster politically for the one-party government. The government was paralyzed by its own bureaucracy and corruption, forcing ordinary citizens to not only create and direct their own rescue efforts but efforts to reconstruct much of the housing that was lost as well. This discontent eventually led to Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, a member of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, becoming the first elected mayor of Mexico City in 1997. Cárdenas promised a more democratic government, and his party claimed some victories against crime, pollution, and other major problems. He resigned in 1999 to run for the presidency.

Mexico City is located in the Valley of Mexico, sometimes called the Basin of Mexico. This valley is located in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt located in the high plateaus of central Mexico. It has a minimum altitude of 2,200 meters above sea level and surrounded by mountains and volcanoes that reach elevations of over 5,000 meters. This valley has no natural drainage outlet for the waters that flow from the mountainsides, making the city vulnerable to flooding. It was artificially opened through the use of canals and tunnels starting in the 17th century. The city primarily rests on what was Lake Texcoco. Seismic activity is frequent here. This lake was drained starting from the 17th century and while none of its waters remain, the city rests on its heavily-saturated clay. This soft base is collapsing due to the over-extraction of groundwater and since the beginning of the 20th century, the city has sunk as much as nine meters in some areas. This sinking is causing problems with runoff and wastewater management, leading to flooding problems, especially during the rainy season. The entire lakebed is now paved over and most of the city’s remaining forested areas lie in the southern boroughs of Milpa Alta, Tlalpan and Xochimilco.

Mexico City has a temperate highland climate (Koppen Cwb), due to its tropical location and high elevation. The lower region of the valley receives less rainfall than the upper regions of the south; the lower boroughs of Iztapalapa, Iztacalco, Venustiano Carranza and the west portion of Gustavo A. Madero are usually drier and warmer than the upper southern boroughs of Tlalpan and Milpa Alta, a mountainous region of pine and oak trees known as the range of Ajusco.

The average annual temperature varies from 12 to 16°C (53 to 60°F), depending on the altitude of the borough. Lowest temperatures, usually registered during January and February, may reach -2 to -5°C (28 to 23°F), usually accompanied by snow showers on the southern regions of Ajusco, and the maximum temperatures of late spring and summer may reach up to 32°C (90°F). Overall precipitation is heavily concentrated in the summer months, including dense hail. The central valley of Mexico rarely gets precipitation in the form of snow during winter; the two last recorded instances of such an event were on March 5, 1940 and January 12, 1967.

The region of the Valley of Mexico receives anti-cyclonic systems, whose weak winds do not allow for the dispersion, outside the basin, of the air pollutants which are produced by the 50,000 industries and 4 million vehicles operating in or around the metropolitan area.

The area receives about 700 millimeters of annual rainfall, which is concentrated from June through September/October with little or no precipitation the remainder of the year. The area has two main seasons. The rainy season runs from June to October when winds bring in tropical moisture from the sea. The dry season runs from November to May, when the air is relatively drier. This dry season subdivides into a cold period from November to February when polar air masses pushing down from the north keep the air fairly dry and a warm period from March to May when tropical winds again dominate but they do not yet carry enough moisture for rain.

Originally much of the valley lay beneath the waters of Lake of Texcoco, a system of interconnected saline and freshwater lakes. The Aztecs built dikes to separate the fresh water used to raise crops in chinampas and to prevent recurrent floods. These dikes were destroyed during the siege of Tenochtitlan, and during colonial times the Spanish regularly drained the lake to prevent floods. Only a small section of the original lake remains, located outside the Federal District, in the municipality of Atenco, State of Mexico. In recent years, architects Teodoro González De León and Alberto Kalach, along with a group of Mexican urbanists, engineers and biologists, have developed the project plan for Recovering the City of Lakes. The project, if approved by the government, will contribute to the supply of water from natural sources to the Valley of Mexico, the creation of new natural spaces, a great improvement in air quality, and greater population establishment planning.

The federal and local governments have implemented numerous plans to alleviate the problem of air pollution, including the constant monitoring and reporting of environmental conditions, such as ozone and nitrogen oxides. If the levels of these two pollutants reach critical levels, contingency actions are implemented which may include closing factories, changing school hours, and extending the A day without a car program to two days of the week. To control air pollution, the government has instituted industrial technology improvements, a strict biannual vehicle emission inspection and the reformulation of gasoline and diesel fuels. Data from the city's 36 air-quality monitoring stations show lead levels down 95 percent since 1990, while sulfur dioxide has fallen 86 percent, carbon monoxide 74 percent, and peak ozone levels 57 percent since 1991.

In 1986, the non-urban forest areas of the southern boroughs were declared National Ecological Reserves by president Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado. Other areas of the Federal District became protected over the following years.

The Acta Constitutiva de la Federación of 31 January 1824 and the Federal Constitution of 4 October 1824 fixed the political and administrative organization of the United States of Mexico after the Mexican War of Independence. In addition, Section XXVIII of Article 50 gave the new Congress the right to choose where the federal government would be located. This location would then be appropriated as federal land, with the federal government acting as the local authority. The two main candidates to become the capital were Mexico City and Querétaro. However, due much to the persuasion of representative Servando Teresa de Mier, Mexico City was chosen because it was the center of the country’s population and history, even though Querétaro was closer to the center geographically. The choice was official on 18 November 1824, and Congress delineated a surface area with a radius of two leagues (8,800 km) from the Zocalo. This circular area was then separated from the State of Mexico, forcing that state’s government to move from the Palace of the Inquisition (now Museum of Mexican Medicine) in the city to Texcoco. This radius did not include the population centers of the towns of Coyoacan, Xochimilco, Mexicaltzingo and Tlalpan, all of which remained as part of the State of Mexico.

The district was incorporated into the federal government as the Department of Mexico officially on 29 November 1836. The District was redefined by President Santa Anna shortly after the Mexican American War, outward to areas bordering Ecatepec, Tlalnepantla and other hilly areas to make the District more defensible. He also divided the District into eight prefectures. In 1898, some other, minor modifications were made to its borders with the State of Mexico and the State of Morelos, bringing them to the current borders. In 1899, the District was divided into the municipality of Mexico and six prefectures. In 1903, this was changed thirteen municipalities. In 1916, then head of the District, Venustiano Carranza tried to annex a number of the communities in what is now the eastern “arm” of the state of Mexico, but did not succeed. In 1941, the organization changed to the City of Mexia and twelve boroughs. In 1978, the 1898 borders were reaffirmed and the current system of sixteen boroughs was instituted.

The government of the District is housed in two buildings on the south side of the Zocalo. One has served as the seat of government for the city almost since the arrival of Hernan Cortes. The other was constructed in the 1940’s for the expanding government, and created to fit in with the architecture of the area.

Mexico City, being the seat of the powers of the Union, did not belong to any particular state but to all. Therefore, it was the president, representing the federation, who used to designate the head of government of the Federal District, a position which is sometimes presented outside Mexico as the "Mayor" of Mexico City. In the 1980s, given the dramatic increase in population of the previous decades, the inherent political inconsistencies of the system—like in 1988, when the opposition candidate had received the majority of votes in the Federal District, but the president, however designated a governor form the party in power at the federal level—as well as the dissatisfaction with the inadequate response of the federal government to assist the city after the 1985 earthquake, the residents began to request political and administrative autonomy in order to manage their own local affairs. Some political groups even proposed that the Federal District be converted into the 32nd state of the federation.

In response to the demands, in 1987 the Federal District received a greater degree of autonomy, with the elaboration the first Statute of Government (Estatuto de Gobierno), and the creation of an Assembly of Representatives. In the 1990s, this autonomy was further expanded and, starting from 1997, residents can directly elect the head of government of the Federal District and the representatives of a unicameral Legislative Assembly (which succeeded the previous Assembly) by popular vote. The first elected head of government was Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. Cárdenas resigned in 1999 in order to run in the 2000 presidential elections and designated Rosario Robles to succeed him, who became the first woman (elected or otherwise) to govern Mexico City. In 2000 Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected, and resigned in 2005 to run in the 2006 presidential elections, Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez being designated by the Legislative Assembly to finish the term. In 2006, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon was elected for the 2006–2012 period.

The Federal District does not have a constitution, like the states of the Union, but rather a Statute of Government, and as part of its recent changes in autonomy, the budget is administered locally: it is proposed by the head of government and approved by the Legislative Assembly. Nonetheless, it is the Congress of the Union that sets the ceiling to internal and external public debt issued by the Federal District.

According to the 44th article of the Mexican Constitution, in case the powers of the Union move to another city, the Federal District will be transformed into a new state, which will be called "State of the Valley of Mexico", with the new limits set by the Congress of the Union.

In 2006, elections were held for the post of head of government and the representatives of the Legislative Assembly. The elected and incumbent head of government is now Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, candidate of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Heads of government are elected for a 6-year period without the possibility of reelection. Traditionally, this position has been considered as the second most important executive office in the country.

The politics pursued by the administrations of heads of government in Mexico City since the second half of the 20th century have usually been more liberal than those of the rest of the country, whether with the support of the federal government —as was the case with the approval of several comprehensive environmental laws in the 1980s— or through laws recently approved by the Legislative Assembly. In 2007, the Federal District became the second federal entity in the country, after the state of Coahuila, to approve same-sex unions, and the first to allow conjugal visits for homosexual prisoners In April of the same year, the Legislative Assembly expanded provisions on abortions, becoming the first federal entity to expand abortion in Mexico beyond cases of rape and economic reasons, to permit it regardless of the reason should the mother request it before the twelfth week of pregnancy.

The boroughs are composed by hundreds of colonias or neighborhoods, which have no jurisdictional autonomy or representation. It is plausible that the name, which literally means colony, arose in the late 19th, early 20th centuries, when one of the first urban developments outside the city's core was inhabited by a French colony in the city. Some colonias have identifiable attributes: Historic Center is the oldest quarter in the city, some of the buildings dating back to the 16th century; la Condesa is known for its Art Deco architecture, and for being the newest artistic center of the city; Santa Fe is a growing business and financial district (built over old landfills); Roma is a beaux arts neighborhood and probably one of the oldest in the city; Polanco is an important commercial and economic center known for its large Jewish community, and Tepito and La Lagunilla are known for its large flea market.

Mexico City is home to some of the best private hospitals in the country. Hospital Angeles, Hospital ABC and Médica Sur to name a few. The largest public healthcare center in Mexico, IMSS, is also located in Mexico City and has an annual budget of over 6 billion pesos.

However due to Mexico City's geographical location, the air quaility in Mexico City is very poor. The high mountains surrounding the city disrupt wind currents, meaining that there is a low amount of wind flow through the area and the frequent creation of thermal inversion layers trap the city's smog, making it considered one of the worst polluted places in the world. Also due to the high alititude of the city, there is 30% less oxygen in the air and emissions from motor vehicles create almost twice the amount of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon pollution. The main source of air pollution are cars and factories, with over 7.9 million cars on the roads of Mexico City and around 400 000 cars added to that total every year. Over 50 000 factories contribute to emission of 24 000 tonnes of pollutants released into Mexico City's atmosphere each year. Due to Mexico City's poor air quality, only around 31 days a year have air which is considered to be safe to breathe. Breathing the air in Mexico City is the same as smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. The atmospheric conditions often cause chronic lung problems, such as asthma. High proportions of young children have also been found to have levels of lead in their bloodstream, high enough to cause intellectual defects and damage the nervous system. However the smog is not caused by the poor of Mexico City, but by the 16% who can afford to buy a car.

In Mexico City 25.2% of dwellings have no access to sewage facilities and Mexico City's water supply is often polluted, with the amount of untreated sewage and industrial waste entering the city's drinking supply high enough to cause officials alarm. Also untreated sewage flows downstream in the Tula River to farmlands, where farmers use the polluted water to irrigate vegetables grown for urban food supplies. Cysticercosis is contracted from the vegetables irrigated with the polluted water from the Tula River. Cysticercosis is a disease caused by tapeworms, which attacks the human brain; though it was normally contracted through cooked pork. Untreated waste water is also the major contributor of high incidence of hepatitis within the city.

The World Bank has sponsored a project to curb air pollution through public transport improvements and the Mexican government has started shutting down polluting factories. They have phased out diesel buses and mandated new emission controls on new cars; since 1993 all new cars must be fitted with a catalytic converter, which reduce the emissions released. Trucks must use only liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Also construction of an underground rail system was begun in order to help curb air pollution problems and alleviate traffic congestion. It has over 201 km of track and carries over 5 million people every day. Fees are kept low to encourage use of the system and during rush hours the crush is so great, that authorities have reserved a special carriage specially for women. Due to these initiatives and others, the air quality in Mexico City has begun to improve, with the air becoming cleaner since 1991, when the air quality was declared to be a public health risk for 355 days of the year.

Mexico City is the most important economic hub in Latin America. The city proper (Federal District) produces 21.8% of the country's gross domestic product. According to a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Greater Mexico City (with a population of 18.3 million) had a GDP of $315 billion in 2005 (at purchasing power parity), ranking as the eighth-richest urban agglomeration in the world after the greater areas of Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, London and Osaka/Kobe, and the richest in Latin America. In 2020 it is predicted to displace Osaka/Kobe to rank seventh. Mexico City alone would be the 30th largest economy in the world. In terms of GDP per sector, the Federal District is the greatest contributor to the country's industrial GDP (15.8%) and also the greatest contributor to the country's GDP in the service sector (25.3%). Due to the limited non-urbanized space at the south—most of which is protected through environmental laws—the contribution of the Federal District in agriculture is the smallest of all federal entities in the country. Mexico City has one of the world's fastest-growing economies outside China and its GDP is set to double by 2020.

The Federal District is the country’s richest region. Although only 9.2% of total Mexican households are located there, it accounts for 21.1% of total household expenditure. Average household spending in the city was US$52,389 in 2006, up to five times of some of the provinces and twenty percent higher then the next-highest spending region (Nuevo Leon). This level of expenditure is close to that of an average household in Italy or France. Households in the capital have fewer members –(3.7 compared to the national average of 4.0) and have better access to employment than those in the rest of the country. They spend comparatively more on education, hotels and catering and transport than outside the capital accounting for almost one third of total national consumption in these categories. The city’s GDP per capita is $22,696, the highest of any city in Latin America. However, this number is skewed by the small number of extremely rich households that shift the mean income upwards. The top decile of households in the entire country had a mean disposable income of US $98,517 in 2007, most of these are located in Mexico City. Their extremely high spending power makes the city attractive for luxury goods companies. The growth of luxury stores established in Mexico D.F. has been impressive since 2003, especially those dealing in luxury cars, designer clothes and expensive jewellery.

The economic reforms of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari had a tremendous effect on the city, privatizing banks and with the government selling off many of the businesses it owned. He also signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This led to the decentralization and a shift in Mexico City’s economic base, from manufacturing to services, as many factories moved to the State of Mexico and to the northern border. The government also encouraged this with tax incentives and new environmental regulations for manufacturing within the Federal District.

However due to the high rate of unemployment, Mexico City has an informal employment sector. These informal workers often sell drivers cigarettes, fruit, newspapers and flowers at the congested traffic lights, or entertain tourists for tips, such as fire-spitters. High rates of unemployment have allowed larger corporations to exploit underpaid workers. These same high rates of unemployment allow employers to keep the wages low and the working conditions poor. Workers who try to improve their working conditions may be dismissed.

Historically, and since pre-Hispanic times, the valley of Anáhuac has been one of the most densely populated areas in Mexico. When the Federal District was created in 1824, the urban area of Mexico City extended approximately to the area of today's Cuauhtémoc borough. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the elites began migrating to the south and west and soon the small towns of Mixcoac and San Ángel were incorporated by the growing conurbation. Today the city could be clearly divided into a middle and high-class area (south and west, including Polanco, Chapultepec and Santa Fe), and a lower class area to the east (Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, Pantitlán, Chalco and Moctezuma).

Up to the 1980s, the Federal District was the most populated federal entity in Mexico, but since then its population has remained stable at around 8.7 million. The growth of the city has extended beyond the limits of the Federal District to 59 municipalities of the state of Mexico and 1 in the state of Hidalgo. With a population of approximately 19.8 million inhabitants (2008), it is one of the most populated conurbations in the world. Nonetheless, the annual rate of growth of the Metropolitan Area of Mexico City is much lower than that of other large urban agglomerations in Mexico, a phenomenon most likely attributable to the environmental policy of decentralization. The net migration rate of the Federal District from 1995 to 2000 was negative.

While they represent around 1.3% of the city's population, indigenous peoples from different regions of Mexico have immigrated to the capital in search of better economic opportunities. Náhuatl, Otomí, Mixteco, Zapoteco, and Mazahua are the indigenous languages with the greatest number of speakers in Mexico City.

On the other hand, Mexico City is home to large communities of expatriates, most notably from South America (mainly from Argentina, but also from Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela), from Europe (mainly from Spain and Germany, but also from France, Italy, Turkey, Poland and Romania), the Middle East (mainly from Lebanon and Syria), and recently from Asia (mainly from China and South Korea). While no official figures have been reported, population estimates of each of these communities are quite significant. Mexico City is home to the largest population of U.S. Americans living outside the United States. Some estimates are as high as 600,000 U.S. Americans living in Mexico City, while in 1999 the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs estimates over 440,000 Americans lived in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area.

The majority (90.5%) of the residents in Mexico City are Roman Catholic, higher than the national percentage, even though it has been decreasing over the last decades. However, many other religions and philosophies are also practiced in the city: many different types of Protestant groups, different types of Jewish communities, Buddhist and other philosophical groups, as well as atheism.

The most recognizable icon of Mexico City is the golden Angel of Independence, found on the wide, elegant avenue Paseo de la Reforma, modeled by the order of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico after the Champs-Élysées in Paris. This avenue was designed over Americas' oldest passage in the XIX Century to connect the National Palace (seat of government) with the Castle of Chapultepec, the imperial residence. Today, this avenue is an important financial district in which the Mexican Stock Exchange as several corporate headquarters are located. Another important avenue is the Avenida de los Insurgentes, which extends 28.8 km (18 miles) and is one of the longest single avenues in the world.

The Chapultepec park houses the Castle of Chapultepec, now a museum on a hill that overlooks the park and its numerous museums, monuments and the national zoo and the National Museum of Anthropology (which houses the Aztec Calendar Stone). Another magnificent piece of architecture is the Fine Arts Palace, a stunning white marble theatre/museum whose weight is such that it has gradually been sinking into the soft ground below. Its construction began during the presidency of Porfirio Díaz and ended, after being interrupted by the Mexican Revolution in the 1920s. The Plaza of the Three Cultures in the Tlatelolco neighbourhood, and the shrine and Basilicas of Our Lady of Guadalupe are also important sites. There is a double decker bus, known as the "Turibus", that circles most of these sites, and has timed audio describing the sites in multiple languages as they are passed.

In addition, the city has around 160 museums, over 100 art galleries, and some 30 concert halls, all of which maintain a constant cultural activity during the whole year. It has the fourth highest number of theatres in the world after New York, London and Toronto, and it is the city with the highest number of museums in the world. In many locales (Palacio Nacional and the Instituto Nacional de Cardiología, to name a few), there are murals painted by Diego Rivera. He and his wife Frida Kahlo lived in the southern suburb of Coyoacán, where several of their homes, studios, and art collections are open to the public. The house where Leon Trotsky was initially granted asylum and finally murdered in 1940 is also in Coyoacán.

In addition, there are several restored haciendas that are now restaurants, such as the San Ángel Inn, the Hacienda de Tlalpan and the Hacienda de los Morales, all of which are stunning remnants of Mexican history and house some of the best food in the world.

Mexico City is served by the Sistema de Transporte Colectivo Metro, an extensive metro system (207 km), which is the largest in Latin America. The first portions were opened in 1969 and now the system has 11 lines with 175 stations. A suburban rail system similar to the French RER started operations in 2008 connecting the city downtown to the Northern suburbs. A twelfth (gold color) metro line is currently in construction. The metro is one of the busiest in the world transporting approximately 4.5 million people every day, surpassed only by Moscow's (7.5 million), Tokyo's (5.9 million), and New York City's (5.1 million). It is heavily subsidized, and has the lowest fares in the world, each trip costing 2.00Mex$ and taking each passenger to almost any place in this enormous city from 05:00 am to 00:00 h.). Several stations display pre-Columbian artifacts and architecture that were discovered during the metro's construction. However, the Metro does not extend outside the limits of the Federal District and, therefore, an extensive network of bus routes has been implemented. These are mostly managed by private companies which are allowed to operate buses as long as they adhere to certain minimal service quality standards.

The city government also operates a network of large buses, in contrast with the privately operated microbuses, with fares barely exceeding that of the metro. Electric transport other than the metro also exists, in the form of trolleybuses and the Xochimilco Light Rail line. The city's first bus rapid transit line, the Metrobús, began operations on June 2005 in Avenida Insurgentes (a second line is under construction on Eje 4 Sur). As the microbuses were removed from its route, it was hoped that the Metrobús could reduce pollution and decrease transit time for passengers. Also, since late 2002, the white and green taxis have been joined by red and white ones as part of a program to replace older vehicles with new ones.

Mexico City is served by Mexico City International Airport (IATA Airport Code: MEX). This airport is Latin America's busiest and largest in traffic, with regular (daily) flights to North America, mainland Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Asia, and with codeshare agreements spanning the entire globe, mainly thanks to the most important carriers based there, Aeroméxico (Skyteam) and Mexicana (Oneworld). It is used by over 26 million passengers per year. This traffic exceeds the current capacity of the airport, which has historically centralized the majority of air traffic in the country. An alternative option is Lic. Adolfo López Mateos International Airport (IATA Airport Code: TLC) located in the nearby Toluca, State of Mexico with about 4.5 million passengers transported last year. In 2008, about 31 million people went trough the city's airports. The government engaged in an extensive restructuring program that includes the new second adjacent terminal, which began operations in 2007, and the enlargement of four other airports (at the nearby cities of Toluca, Querétaro, Puebla and Cuernavaca) that, along with Mexico City's airport, comprise the Grupo Aeroportuario del Valle de México, distributing traffic to different regions in Mexico. The city of Pachuca will also provide additional expansion to central Mexico's airport network. Mexico City's airport is the main hub for 11 of the 21 national airline companies.

The city has four major bus stations (North, South, Observatorio, TAPO), which comprise one of the world's largest transportation agglomerations, with bus service to many cities across the country and international connections. The city has one train station, used for commercial and industrial purposes (interstate passenger trains are now virtually non-existent in Mexico). A suburban rail system, the Tren Suburbano serves the metropolitan area, beyond the city limits of the metro, to municipalities such as Tlalnepantla and Cuautitlán Izcalli, with future extensions to Chalco and La Paz.

There are also several toll expressways which directly connect Mexico City with several other major cities throughout the country.

In the late 70's many arterial roads were redesigned as ejes viales; high-volume one-way roads that cross, in theory, Mexico City proper from side to side. The eje vial network is based on a quasi-Cartesian grid, with the ejes themselves being called Eje 1 Poniente, Eje Central, and Eje 1 Oriente, for example, for the north-south roads, and Eje 2 Sur and Eje 3 Norte, for example, for east-west roads. Two freeway ring-roads serve to connect points within the city and the metropolitan area: Circuito Interior (the inner ring) and Periférico, which connect to one straight freeway: the Viaducto (Viaduct) (connecting west with east, from Observatorio to the Airport). Traffic in this system is so dense that an elevated highway that runs on top and parallel to a part of the Periférico, had to be constructed and finished in 2007. This elevated highway is colloquially called segundo piso ("second level") of the Periférico.

There is an environmental program, called Hoy No Circula ("Not To Run Today," or "One Day without a Car"), whereby only vehicles with certain ending numbers on their license plates are allowed to circulate on certain days, in an attempt to cut down on pollution and traffic congestion.

Fútbol is Mexico's most popular and most televised sport. There are several important venues in Mexico City, including the Aztec Stadium, home to América, has a capacity to seat 105,000 fans, the Olympic Stadium in Ciudad Universitaria, home to the U.N.A.M., with a seating capacity of over 63,000, and a few blocks from the WTC the Estadio Azul, located in the Colonia (Mexico) Nochebuena, home to the C.D.S.C. Cruz Azul, which seats 35,000 fans. The three teams are based in Mexico City and play in the Primera Division (First Division) and are part of the "Big Four" of Mexico. The country hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1970 and 1986 and the Aztec Stadium is the only stadium in World Cup history to host the final match twice. Mexico City also hosted the Summer Olympics in 1968, winning bids against Buenos Aires, Lyon and Detroit, and remains the only Latin American city to host such an event. Mexico City hosted the 1955 Pan American Games and then the 1975 Pan American Games after Santiago and São Paulo withdrew. The ICF Flatwater Racing World Championships have been hosted here twice, in 1974 and in 1994.

Lucha Libre is also one of the main popular sports in Mexico where the main venue is Arena Mexico and also Arena Coliseo. Baseball is also another popular sport with a growing fan base. Mexico City is home to the México Red Devils of the MBL, with the team playing their home games at the Foro Sol Park. Also in Mexico City are located around 10 little leagues for young baseball players.

Adjacent to Foro Sol is Mexico City's Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. From 1962 to 1970 and again from 1986 to 1992, the track hosted the Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix. From 1980-1981 and again from 2002 to 2007, it hosted the Champ Car World Series Gran Premio de México. Beginning in 2005, the NASCAR Nationwide Series ran the Telcel-Motorola México 200. 2005 also marked the first running of the Mexico City 250 by the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Both races were removed from their series' schedules for 2009.

In 2005, Mexico City became the first city to host a NFL regular season game outside of the United States, at the Aztec Stadium, holding the largest attendance for a regular season game in NFL history: 103,467 fans. The city has also hosted several NBA pre-season exhibition games along with exhibition matches among MLB teams at the Foro Sol. The FIBA Americas Championship has also been hosted here.

Other sports facilities in Mexico City are the Palacio de los Deportes indoor arena, Francisco Márquez Olympic Swimming Pool, the Hipódromo de Las Américas, the Velodromo Agustín Melgar, and venues for Equestrianism and Horse racing, Ice Hockey, Rugby, American football, Baseball, and Basketball for which what is widely regarded as the best International Basketball Tournament has been held in the city.

Bullfighting takes place every Sunday during bullfighting season at the 50,000-seat Plaza de Toros, the largest bullfight ring in the world.

Mexico City's golf courses have held both the Women's LPGA tour, as well as two Men's Golf World Cups. These, and other golf courses throughout the city are available as private, as well as public venues.

The second oldest university in the Americas, established in 1551, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), is located in Mexico City. It is the largest university on the continent, with 269,000 students from all backgrounds enrolled. Three Nobel laureates, several Mexican entrepreneurs and most of Mexico's modern-day presidents are among its former students. UNAM conducts 50% of Mexico's scientific research and has presence all across the country with satellite campuses, observatories and research centers. The National Autonomous University of Mexico ranks 74th in the Top 200 World University Ranking published by The Times Higher Education Supplement in 2006, making it the highest ranked Spanish-speaking university in the world. The sprawling main campus of the university, known as Ciudad Universitaria, was named a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 2007, during the period of Juan Ramón de la Fuente as the President of UNAM.

Contrary to what occurs in the constituent states of the Mexican federation, the curriculum of Mexico City's public schools is managed by the federal level Secretary of Public Education. The whole funding is allocated by the government of Mexico City (in some specific cases, such as El Colegio de México, funding comes from both the city's government and other public and private national and international entities).

A very special case is that of El Colegio Nacional, created during the governmental period of Miguel Alemán Valdés to have, in Mexico, an institution very similar to the College of France. The very selected and privileged group of Mexican scientists and artists belonging to this institution (the membership is lifelong; some of the current members are Mario Lavista, Ruy Pérez Tamayo, José Emilio Pacheco, Marcos Moshinsky, Guillermo Soberón Acevedo, and many others) have the obligation of disclosing their works among the general population, through conferences and public events such as concerts and recitals.

Amongst its many public and private schools (K-13), the city offers multi-cultural, multi-lingual and international schools which are attended by Mexican and foreign students. Best known are the Colegio Alemán (German school with 3 main campuses), the Liceo Mexicano Japonés (Japanese), the Escuela Coreana (Korean), the Lycée Français de Mexique (French), the American School, The Edron Academy and the Greengates School (British).

Mexico City is the country's most important center for the television, advertising, music, newspaper and book publishing industries. Two national newspapers are published here, El Universal and Excélsior, as well as important regional newspapers such as Reforma and La Jornada. Other major papers include Milenio, Crónica, El Economista and El Financiero.

The two largest media companies in the Spanish-speaking world, Televisa and TV Azteca, are headquartered in Mexico City. Other local television networks include Canal 11, Canal 22, Cadena Tres, Teveunam and 11 free-access channels.

There are 60 radio stations operating in the city and a huge number of local community radio stations.

Mexico City is one of the most important cultural centers in the world, boasting more museums than any other city. It is also the fourth city in number of theaters after New York City, London and Toronto. Having been the capital of a vast pre-Hispanic empire, the richest viceroyalty within the Spanish Empire, and capital of the Mexican federation, Mexico City has a rich history of artistic expressions. Since the Mesoamerican pre-Classical period the inhabitants of the settlements around Lake Texcoco produced many works of arts, some of which are today displayed at the world-renown National Museum of Anthropology and the Templo Mayor Museum. While many pieces of pottery and stone-engraving have survived, the great majority of the Amerindian iconography was destroyed during the Conquest of Mexico.

During colonial times the first art produced was that of the codices generated to preserve or recuperate Amerindian iconography and history. From then, artistic expressions in Mexico were mostly religious in theme. The Metropolitan Cathedral still displays works by Juan de Rojas, Juan Correa and an oil painting whose authorship has been attributed to Murillo. Secular works of art of this period include the equestrian sculpture of Charles IV of Spain, locally known as El Caballito ("The little horse"). This piece, in bronze, was the work of Manuel Tolsá and it has been placed at the Plaza Tolsá, in front of the Palacio de Minería (Mining Palace). Directly in front of this building is the beautiful Museo Nacional de Arte (Munal) (the National Museum of Art).

During the 19th century, an important producer of art was the Academia de San Carlos (San Carlos Art Academy), founded during colonial times, and which later became the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas (the National School of Visual Arts), which is currently one of the art schools of UNAM. Many of the works produced by the students and faculty of that time are now displayed in the Museo Nacional de San Carlos (National Museum of San Carlos). One of the students, José María Velasco, is considered one of the greatest Mexican landscape painters of the 19th century. It was during Porfirio Diaz's regime that the government sponsored arts, especially those that followed the French school. In spite of that, popular arts in the form of cartoons and illustrations flourished like those of José Guadalupe Posada and Manuel Manilla. The permanent collection of the San Carlos Museum also includes paintings by European masters such as Rembrandt, Velázquez, Murillo, and Rubens.

After the Mexican Revolution, an avant-garde artistic movement originated in Mexico City: muralism. Many of the works of muralists José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera are displayed in numerous buildings in the city, most notably at the National Palace and the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Frida Kahlo, wife of Rivera, with a strong nationalist expression, was also one of the most renowned of Mexican painters. Her house has become a museum that displays many of her works.

The former home of Rivera muse Dolores Olmedo house the namesake museum. The facility lies in the Xochimilco precinct in the southern part of the city and includes several buildings surrounded by sprawling manicured lawns. It houses a large collection of Rivera and Kahlo paintings and drawings, as well as living Xoloizcuintles (Mexican Hairless Dog). It also regularly hosts small but important temporary exhibits of classical and modern art (e.g. Venetian Masters and Contemporary New York artists).

During the 20th century, many artists immigrated to Mexico City from different regions of Mexico, like Leopoldo Méndez, an engraver from Veracruz, who supported the creation of the socialist Taller de la Gráfica Popular (Popular Graphics Workshop), designed to help blue-collar workers find a venue to express their art. Other painters came from abroad, like Catalan painter Remedios Varo and other Spanish and Jewish exiles. It was in the second half of the 20th century that the artistic movement began to drift apart from the Revolutionary theme. José Luis Cuevas opted for a modernist style in contrast to the muralist movement associated with social politics.

Mexico City has numerous museums dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The Museo Tamayo was opened in the mid-1980s to house the collection of international contemporary art donated by famed Mexican (born in the state of Oaxaca) painter Rufino Tamayo. The Museo de Arte Moderno (Museum of Modern Art) is a repository of Mexican artists from the 20th century, and also regularly hosts temporary exhibits of international modern art. In southern Mexico City, the Museo Carrillo Gil (Carrillo Gil Museum) showcases avant-garde artists, as does the University Museum/Contemporary Art (Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo - or MUAC), designed by famed Mexican architect Teodoro González de León, inaugurated in late 2008. The Museo Soumaya (Soumaya Museum), named after the wife of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, has the largest private collection of original Rodin sculptures outside Paris. La Colección Jumex (The Jumex Collection) is a museum housed on the grounds of the Jumex juice company in the northern industrial suburb of Ecatepec (within the State of Mexico). It shows pieces from its permanent collection and hosts traveling exhibits by leading contemporary artists.

Jack Kerouac, the noted American author, spent extended periods of time in the city, and wrote his masterpiece volume of poetry Mexico City Blues here. Another American author,William S. Burroughs also lived in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of the city for some time. It was here that he accidentally shot his wife.

Mexico City is a mecca of classical music, with a number of orchestras offering season programs. These include the Mexico City Philharmonic, which performs at the Sala Ollin Yoliztli; the National Symphony Orchestra, whose home base is the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of the Fine Arts) , a masterpiece of art nouveau and art decó styles; the Philharmonic Orchestra of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (OFUNAM), and the Minería Symphony Orchestra, both of which perform at the acoustically renown Sala Nezahualcóyotl, which was the first wrap-around concert hall in the Western Hemisphere when inaugurated in 1976. There are also many smaller ensembles that enrich the city's musical scene, including the Carlos Chávez Youth Symphony, the New World Orchestra (Orquesta del Nuevo Mundo), the National Polytechnical Symphony and the Bellas Artes Chamber Orchestra (Orquesta de Cámara de Bellas Artes).

The city is also a leading center of popular culture and music. There are a multitude of venues hosting the top Spanish and English-language performers. These include the 10,000-seat National Auditorium that regularly schedules the top Spanish and English-language pop and rock artists, as well as many of the world's leading performing arts ensembles. Other popular sites for pop-artist performances include the Teatro Metropolitan, the 15,000-seat Palacio de los Deportes, and the larger Foro Sol Stadium, where top-name international artists perform on a regular basis. The Cirque du Soleil has held several seasons at the Carpa Santa Fe, in the Santa Fe district in the western part of the city.

It is said that Mexico City has more theatres than any other city in the Spanish-speaking world. At any given time, plays being staged run the gamut from Spanish versions of Broadway shows to mainstream Spanish-language originals.

The Centro Nacional de las Artes (National Center for the Arts), in southern Mexico City, has several venues for music, theatre, dance. UNAM's main campus, also in the southern part of the city, is home to the Centro Cultural Universitario (the University Culture Center) (CCU). The CCU also houses the National Library, the interactive Universum, Museo de las Ciencias and slated to open in 2008, the new University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC). A branch of the National University's CCU cultural center was inaugurated in 2007 in the facilities of the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs, known as Tlatelolco, in north-central Mexico City.

The (José Vasconcelos Library), a national library, is located on the grounds of the former Buenavista railroad station in the northern part of the city.

The Papalote children's museum, which houses the world's largest dome screen, is located in the wooded park of Chapultepec, near the Museo Tecnológico, and La Feria amusement park. The theme park Six Flags México (the largest amusement park in Latin America) is located in the Ajusco borough, in southern Mexico City. During the winter, the main square of the Zócalo is transformed into a gigantic ice skating rink, which is said to be the largest in the world behind that of Moscow's Red Square.

The Cineteca Nacional (the Mexican Film Library), near the Coyoacán suburb, shows a wide variety of films, and stages many film festivals, including the annual International Showcase, and many smaller ones ranging from Scandinavian and Uruguayan cinema, to Jewish and GLBT-themed films. Cinépolis and Cinemex, the two biggest film business chains, also have several film festivals throughout the year, with both national and international movies. No other city in the world has the amount of IMAX theaters as are in Mexico City, this gives access to cinematographic documentaries as well as blockbusters on the world's largest screens.

Mexico City offers a vast array of culinary experiences. Restaurants specializing in the regional cuisines of Mexico's 31 states are available in the city. Also available are restaurants representing a very broad spectrum of international cuisines, including French, Italian, Croatian, German, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish (including Spanish regional variations such as Castilian, Asturian, Galician, and Basque), Turkish, Chinese (including regional variations such as Cantonese, Hunan, and Sichuan), Indian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Tibetan, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Moroccan, as well as Argentine, Brazilian, Cuban, Peruvian, and Uruguayan. Haute, Fusion, Vegetarian and Vegan cuisines are also commonly available. The city also has several branches of renowned international restaurants and chefs. These include New York's Le Cirque, Paris' Au Pied de Cochon and Brasserie Lipp, Philippe (by Philippe Chow, who has restaurants in NY and Las Vegas); Nemi, owned by Michael Mina; and Pámpano, owned by Opera legend Plácido Domingo. There are branches of Rome's famed Alfredo, as well as New York steakhouses Morton's and The Palm, and Madrid's L'Albúfera. Three of the most famous Lima-based haute Peruvian restaurants, La Mar, Segundo Muelle and Astrid y Gastón have Mexico City branches.

Mexico's award winning wines are offered at many restaurants. And the city offers unique experiences for tasting the regional spirits, with wealthy selections of Tequila, and Mezcal, as well as Pulque bars known as pulquerías.

Mexico City was traditionally known as La Ciudad de los Palacios ("the City of the Palaces"), a nickname attributed to Baron Alexander von Humboldt when visiting the city in the 19th century.

During López Obrador's administration a new nickname was introduced: la Ciudad de la Esperanza ("The City of Hope"). It has been replaced by Capital en Movimiento ("Capital in Movement") by the recently elected administration headed by Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon.

The city is colloquially known as Chilangolandia after the locals' nickname chilangos, which is used either as a pejorative term by people living outside Mexico City or as a proud adjective by Mexico City's dwellers.

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Mexico City Metro

Mexico City metro train in station Metro Bellas Artes, decorated with images related to the city.

The Mexico City Metro (formally: Sistema de Transporte Colectivo Metro or STC Metro) is a rubber-tyred metro system that serves the metropolitan area of the Mexican Federal District (this includes some municipalities in Mexico State). It is the second-largest metro system in North America after the New York Subway.

In 2006 the system served 1.417 billion passengers, the fifth highest ridership in the world.

The first Metro line relied on 16 stations, and was opened to the public in 1969. It has expanded since then in a series of fits and starts; it currently comprises eleven lines and 451 kilometres of passenger track. Trains feature rubber tires (also called pneumatic traction), instead of traditional steel wheels, decreasing noise and making the system more tolerable to Mexico City's unstable soils.

The Metro has 175 stations, 24 of which serve two or more lines. It has 106 underground stations (the deepest of which are 35 metres below street surface); 53 surface stations and 16 elevated stations. Eleven stations are located in Mexico State. This area where the stations are located is part of the metropolitan area of Mexico City, while the rest are within the limits of the suburbs with Mexico State.

By the end of 2007, Mexican Federal District government announced the construction of the new metro line: Line 12. Line 12 will run towards the southeastern part of the city, with connections with Line 2, Line 3, Line 7 and Line 8.

By the second half of the twentieth century Mexico City had serious public transportation problems and congestion in its main roads and highways, especially those in the downtown zone, where 40 percent of the daily trips done inside the city were concentrated. In this area 65 of the 91 lines of bus and electric transport circulated. With four thousand units in addition to 150 thousand personal automobiles peak hours, the circulation speed was less than a person walking.

The principal promoter of the construction of Mexico City Metro was engineer Bernardo Quintana, who was in charge of the construction company Ingenieros Civiles y Asociados (Spanish for: "Civil Engineers and Associates"). He carried out a series of studies that permitted a draft and later the construction of the Mexico City Metro, which was shown to different authorities of Mexico City. However it was not made official until April 29, 1967, when the Government Gazzette (Spanish: "Diario Oficial de la Federación", roughly translated as: "Federation Official Journal") published the presidential decree through which it created a public decentralized organism , the "Sistema de Transporte Colectivo" with the proposal to build, operate and run a rapid transit of subterranean course for the public transport of Mexico City.

Months later on June 19, 1967, in the crossroad of Chapultepec avenue with Bucareli Street the inauguration ceremony for the Mexico City Metro took place. Two years later on September 4, 1969, an orange train made the inaugural trip between Zaragoza Station and Insurgentes Station. On October 20, 1975 the Metro in Mexico City suffered the worst metro accident in the history of the Metro system in Mexico City. The death toll is unknown.

The first stage of construction took place between 1967 and 1972 with Lines 1, 2 and 3. This stage involved engineers, geologists, mechanics, civil engineers, chemists, hydraulic and sanitation workers, electricians, archaeologists, and biologists; specialists in ventilation, statistics, computation, and in traffic and transit; accountants, economists, lawyers, workers and laborers. Somewhere between 1,200 and 4,000 specialists and 48,000 workers participated, building at least one kilometer of metro per month, the fastest rate of construction ever for a subway.

During this stage of construction workers uncovered two archaeological ruins, one Aztec idol, and the bones of a mammoth (under exhibit in Talismán Station).

Line 1 was built from the Zaragoza Station, in the east of the city, to the Chapultepec Station, Line 2 from Tacuba Station in the west, to Tasqueña Station in the south and finally Line 3 from Tlatelolco Station in the north, to Hospital General Station, in the south.

The Metro began operation on September 4, 1969 with 48 stations and a total length of 42.4 km.

The second stage began with the creation of the "Comisión Ejecutiva del Metro" (Executive Technical Commission of Mexico City Metro), the commission in charge of extending the Mexico City metro in the metropolitan area. This stage took place between 1977 and 1982.

The stage began with the extension of Line 3 towards the north from Tlatelolco Station to La Raza Station and towards the south from Hospital General Station to Zapata Station. It also began the construction of Line 4 from Martín Carrera Station to Santa Anita Station and Line 5 from Pantitlán Station to Politécnico Station.

Line 4 was built as an elevated track, owing to the lower density of big buildings. The average height of this elevated track is 30 meters (90 ft).

This construction stage took place from the beginning of year 1983 through the end of 1985.

On record of the extensions to lines 1, 2 & 3. It began the construction of lines 6 & 7, the length of the network increased by 35.2 km (21.8 mi.) and the number of stations increased by 105.

Line 3 was extended from Zapata Station to Universidad Station, and was inaugurated on August 30, 1983. Line 1 was extended from Zaragoza Station to Pantitlán Station, and Line 2 from Tacuba Station to Cuatro Caminos Station between the limit with State of Mexico but still in the metropolitan area of Mexico City. These two last extensions were both inaugurated on August 22, 1984, with this extensions. the lines 1, 2 & 3 reached their current stroke.

Line 6 from El Rosario Station to Instituto del Petróleo Station was built with subterranean and superficial parts. Line 7 from Tacuba Station to Barranca del Muerto Station runs on the bottom of the Sierra de las Cruces mountain range that surrounds Mexico's valley by its west side, outside of the ancient lake zone; this made possible Line 7 to be built as a deep-tunnel.

On the morning of September 19, 1985, at almost the end of third stage, an earthquake struck Mexico City at 7:19 am (local hour), with a magnitude of 8.1 on Richter Scale. The earthquake caused several buildings such as old houses and hotels and even a Televisa television office to collapse. Many buildings as well as streets were left with major damage making the transportation on the ground difficult, but the metro was not damaged because rectangular structure was used instead of arches, making it resistant to earthquakes thus giving the people a safe means of transportation in a time of crisis.

This stage began in 1986 and ended in 1987. It began with the extensions of Line 6 from Instituto del Petróleo Station to Martín Carrera Station & Line 7 from Tacuba Station to El Rosario Station, and with the construction of line 9 from Pantitlán Station to Tacubaya Station. On Line 9 a circular deep-tunnel and an elevated track were used.

This stage began in 1988 and was completed in 1994.

In this stage began the first extension of metro to State of Mexico with the name of Line A from Pantitlán Station to La Paz Station. This line was built almost entirely above ground, and to reduce the cost of maintenance, steel railway tracks and overhead lines were used instead of pneumatic traction.

The draft for Line 8 planned a connection in Zócalo Station the very center of the city, but it was cancelled because this could have damaged the colonial buildings and the Aztec ruins, so it was replanned and now it runs from Garibaldi Station, which is still downtown, to Constitucion de 1917 Station in the southeast of the city. The construction of Line 8 began in 1988 and was completed in 1994.

With this, the length of the network increased 37.1 km (23 mi), adding two lines and 29 more stations, giving the metro network at that point a total of 178.1 km (110.6 mi), 154 stations and 10 lines.

The logos' background colors reflect those of the line the station serves. Stations serving two or more lines show the respective colors of each line in diagonal stripes, like Salto del Agua. This system is also used in the Monterrey Metro, and Guadalajara Metro both in Mexico.

As of 2009, the Mexico City Metro is the cheapest rail system of the world – a ticket to travel from one station to another costs MXN $2 (EUR 0.10 or USD 0.15 in 2009).

The Metro offers free service to the elderly and the physically impaired.

Tickets can be purchased at booths. Special cards, good for 150 trips, are also available for MXN 300 (around EUR 25 or USD 30 in 2007). When the amount of trips on the card are used up, the card can be recharged for as little as MXN 2 (one trip), up to a maximum of MXN 620 (around EUR 45.50 or USD 65.60 in 2007) for 310 trips.

Mexico City Metro currently has 11 lines, numbered from 1 to 9 and the letters A and B. All lines, with the exception of Line A, operate with pneumatic traction. The total length of the network is 201.388 km and a total of 175 stations.

Of the 175 stations, 41 are commuting stations and 22 are terminus, in addition 11 are terminus stations as well as commuting stations. The metro is built three ways: underground, superficial and elevated. 106 stations are underground, 53 are superficial, and 16 elevated.

For easier identification each line has a characteristic color assigned to it, so Line 1 has the color pink, Line 2 color blue, Line 3 is olive green, Line 4 is light blue, Line 5 is yellow, Line 6 is red, Line 7 is orange, Line 8 is green, Line 9 is brown, Line A purple and Line B is silver-green.

Commuting stations belong to two or more lines that cross at such point, and a user can move between lines without having to leave the station or buy another ticket.

Line 1 was the first to be built, the identifying color is pink and runs through the city from west to east.

The line is built under several avenues: Parque Lira, Pedro Antonio de los Santos, Circuito Interior, Avenida de los Insurgentes, Avenida Chapultepec, Arcos de Belén, Balderas, Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas, José María Izazaga, Isabel la Católica, Anillo de Circunvalación, Congreso de la Unión, Eduardo Molina, and Ignacio Zaragoza, it commutes with Line 7 and 9 at the Station Tacubaya, Line 3 at Balderas, Line 8 at Salto del Agua, Line 2 at Pino Suárez, Line 4 at Candelaria, Line B at San Lázaro and Lines 5, 9 and A at Pantitlán.

Line 2 is the second of the network, the color that identifies it is blue and runs from west to east and north to south, turning at the city center. It starts at the border of the city and the Estado de México and ends in the city south.

It commutes with Line 7 at Tacuba, Line 3 at Hidalgo, Line 8 at Bellas Artes, Line 1 at Pino Suárez and Lines 8 and 9 at Chabacano. At Tasqueña it links with the Mexico City Light Rail to Xochimilco. It used to be served by NC-82 and some NM-83 trains.

This line was temporarily served by a NM-02 train with landscapes and images of Mexico City.

Line 2 was the scene of the worst accident in Mexico City history on October 20, 1975, when a crash occurred between two trains at the Viaducto Station. One train was parked at the station picking up passengers when it was hit by another train that did not stop in time. 20 people were killed and several wounded. After that accident, automatic traffic lights were installed in all the lines.

Line 3 is the longest, its color is olive green and runs from north to south of the city covering almost all of it.

It is built under Avenida de los Insurgentes, Guerrero, Zarco, Balderas, Cuauhtémoc, Universidad, Copilco and Delfín Madrigal avenues. It commutes with Line 6 at Deportivo 18 de Marzo, Line 5 at La Raza, Line B at Guerrero, Line 2 at Hidalgo, Line 1 at Balderas and Line 9 at Centro Médico.

Line 4 is the shortest, its color is aqua or light blue and runs from north to south. It is also the line with the lowest passenger flow, which is why the STC introduced modified 6-wagon-trains. In the original blueprint, this line was planned to extend to the north all the way to Ecatepec, Mexico State.

Nearly the entire line is an elevated viaduct because the area where it is built has no tall buildings. It connects with Lines 1 at Candelaria, Line 6 at Martín Carrera, Line 5 at Consulado, Line 8 at Santa Anita, Line 9 at Jamaica and Line B at Morelos.

Line 6's color is red and runs from west to east.

Line 7 is the deepest of all the system at a maximum depth of 36 metres under street level. Its color is orange and it runs from north to south. This line used MP68 trains and a small number of NM73, after the rehabilitation of some MP68. They kept circulating on this line although there is a slightly bigger number of NM79 and NM83 in this line. Today there are only retroadapted NM73 and NM83 models and some trains from the first model due to the introduction of the NM02 in the Line 2. Currently the MP68 Trains from Line 9 are being reintroduced.

Line 8 was the next to last route of the network to be opened, on July 20, 1994 by then President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and then regent of the city, Manuel Aguilera Gómez. Construction plans for the line date back to much earlier, but they were put on hold due to significant redevelopment. Its color is green and it runs from the city center to the southeast.

According to the Sistema de Transporte Colectivo, the volume of people moved in this line was 117,386,342 persons in 2006.

Line 9's color is brown and runs from west to east. The trains of this line is made up from MP68 trains rehabilitated with fans and intelligent control systems and some NM79.

Line A was built differently from the other 10 lines, with more conventional light rail vehicles without rubber tires, and using an overhead electrical supply instead of a third rail. It runs mostly above ground at grade in the centre of a large avenue, and is grade-separated from vehicle traffic. Its color is purple and runs from east to far east of the city.

Line B's color is gray and green. Line 8 is also green, which causes some to confuse it with Line B, and has led to some criticism that it should be gray only. It runs from the city center to the far northeast. All the trains are MP68 modified and equipped with GPS and intelligent control system, the trains in this line were the leftovers from Line 1 that were rehabilitated by Bombardier-Concarril.

It has been confirmed that this line will run from Mixcoac to Tláhuac, with 23 stations, 4 of them linking with another lines, and with the Mexico City Metrobús.

The line of service of the express bus Metrobús Insurgentes (built in 2005) it is not a part of the STC-Metro network, but its north terminal is located at Indios Verdes Station and links to other stations all along its 20 km journey to the south.

The tram line from Xochimilco to Tasqueña is not formally part of the STC-Metro network; it links with Line 2 at Tasqueña Station, but it is necessary to buy a different ticket.

The book "Los Hombres del Metro" mentions that there are plans for the construction of the Line 12, in the book there is the map where it can be seen that this line will depart from Mixcoac and the Atlalilco and Constitución de 1917 stations of Line 8 will become part of Line 12. It also shows that Line 8 will finish at Acoxpa and it will not start at Garibaldi, supposedly it will start at Indios Verdes and it will run through Villa-Basílica and Misterios until reaching Garibaldi. In addition the map shows that Line 7 will finish at San Jerónimo. The only plan that has been officially confirmed by now is Line 12 which will be built starting June 2008 and it will start at Mixcoac station leading all the way to Tlauac, a zone that has little public transportation far in the south/east of the City. Neither the plans of Line 8 nor the plans of Line 7 have been confirmed by the Mexico City Government.

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Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral

Interior of Mexico City Cathedral

Mexico City Cathedral, with the Metropolitan Tabernacle to the right.

The Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral (Spanish: Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María) is the largest and oldest cathedral in the Americas and seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico. It is situated atop the former Aztec sacred precinct near the Templo Mayor on the northern side of the Plaza de la Constitución in downtown Mexico City. The cathedral was built in sections from 1573 to 1813 around the original church that was constructed soon after the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán, eventually replacing it entirely. Spanish architect Claudio de Arciniega planned the construction, drawing inspiration from Gothic cathedrals in Spain.

The cathedral has four facades which contain portals flanked with columns and statues. The two bell towers contain a total of 25 bells. The tabernacle, adjacent to the cathedral, contains the baptistery and serves to register the parishioners. There are two large, ornate alters, a sacristy, and a choir in the cathedral. Fourteen of the cathedral's sixteen chapels are open to the public. Each chapel is dedicated to a different saint or saints, and each was sponsored by a religious guild. The chapels contain ornate altars, altarpieces, retablos, paintings, furniture and sculptures. The cathedral is home to two of the largest 18th century organs in the Americas. There is a crypt underneath the cathedral that holds the remains of many former archbishops.

Over the centuries, the cathedral has suffered damage. A fire in 1962 destroyed a significant part of the cathedral's interior. The restoration work that followed uncovered a number of important documents and artwork that had previously been hidden. Although a solid foundation was built for the cathedral, the soft clay soil it is built on has been a threat to its structural integrity. Dropping water tables and accelerated sinking caused the structure to be added to the World Monuments Fund list of the 100 Most Endangered Sites. Reconstruction work beginning in the 1990s stabilized the cathedral and it was removed from the endangered list in 2000.

After the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, the conquistadors decided to build their church on the site of the Templo Mayor of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan to consolidate Spanish power over the newly-conquered domain. Hernán Cortés and the other conquistadors used the stones from the destroyed temple of the Aztec god of war Huitzilopochtli, principle deity of the Aztecs, to build the church. Cortés ordered the original church's construction after he returned from exploring what is now Honduras. Architect Martín de Sepúlveda was the first director of this project from 1524 to 1532. Juan de Zumárraga, the first Bishop of the first See of the New World, established in the Viceroyalty of New Spain, promoted this church's completion. Zumárraga's Cathedral was located in the northeast portion of what is now the cathedral. It had three naves separated by three Tuscan columns. The central roof was ridged with intricate carvings done by Juan Salcedo Espinosa and gilded by Francisco de Zumaya and Andrés de la Concha. The main door was probably of Renaissance style. The choir area had 48 seats made of ayacahuite wood crafted by Adrian Suster and Juan Montaño. However, this church was soon considered inadequate for the growing importance of the capital of New Spain.

In 1544, ecclesiastical authorities in Valladolid ordered the creation of new and more sumptuous cathedral. In 1552, an agreement was reached whereby the cost of the new cathedral would be shared by the Spanish crown, encomenderos and the Indians under the direct authority of the archbishop of New Spain. The cathedral was begun by being built around the existing church in 1573. When enough of the cathedral was built to house basic functions, the original church was demolished to enable construction to continue.

The cathedral was constructed over a period of over two centuries, between 1573 and 1813. Its design is a mixture of three architectural styles that predominated during the colonial period, Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-classic.

Initial plans for the new cathedral were drawn up and work on the foundation began in 1562. The decision to have the cathedral face south instead of east was made in 1570. In the same year, construction commenced, working from the Gothic designs and models created by Claudio de Arciniega and Juan Miguel de Agüero, inspired by cathedrals found in Spanish cities such as Valladolid and Malaga.

Because of the muddy subsoil of the site, work on the foundation continued past the work on the walls to 1581. In 1585, work on the first of the cathedral's chapels began and by 1615, the cathedral's walls reached to about half of their final height. Construction of the interior of the current cathedral began in 1623 and what is now the vestry was where Mass was conducted after the first church was finally torn down.

In 1629, work was interrupted by flooding, over two metres in depth. Parts of the city were damaged, especially around the main plaza or Zocalo. Because of such damage, this site was almost abandoned and a new cathedral project was begun the hills of the Tacubaya area to the west.

Despite these problems the project continued in its current location, and under the direction of Luis Gómez de Transmonte, the interior was finished and consecrated in 1667. The cathedral still lacked bell towers, the complete front facade, and many of the other features it has now at the beginning of the 18th century.

In 1787, José Damian Ortiz de Castro was in charge of finishing work on the cathedral. He did most of the work on the bell towers, putting in most of the fretwork and capping them with roofs in the shape of bells. With his death in 1793, he did not live to see the cathedral completed, and Manuel Tolsá finished the cathedral by adding the cupola, the central front facade, the balustrades, and the statues of Faith, Hope and Charity at the top of the front facade. Tolsa's work was the last major construction to the cathedral and the appearance it had when he finished is the basic look the cathedral has today.

The cathedral faces south and is approximately 54.5 metres (179 ft) wide and 110 metres (360 ft) long. It consists of two bell towers, a central dome, three main portals, five naves, 51 vaults, 74 arches and 40 columns. Inside the cathedral are five large altars, sixteen chapels, a choir area, a corridor, capitulary room, and sacristy. The cathedral has approximately 150 windows.

The main facade of the cathedral faces south. The main portal is centered in the main facade and is the highest of the cathedral's three portals. Statues of Saint Peter and Paul the Apostle stand between the columns of the portal, while Saint Andrew and James the Just are depicted on the secondary doorway. In the center of this doorway is a high relief of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, to whom the cathedral is dedicated. This image is flanked by images of Saint Matthew and Saint Andrew. The coat of arms of Mexico is above the doorway, with the eagle's wings outstretched. There is a clock tower at the very top of the portal with statues representing Faith, Hope and Charity, which was created by sculptor Manuel Tolsá.

The west facade was constructed in 1688 and rebuilt in 1804. It as a three-section portal with images of the Four Evangelists. The west portal has high reliefs depicting Jesus handing the Keys of Heaven to Saint Peter.

The east facade is similar to the west facade. The reliefs on the east portal show a ship carrying the four apostles, with Saint Peter at the helm. The title of this relief is The ship of the Church sailing the seas of Eternity.

The northern facade, built during the 16th century in the Renaissance Herrera style, is oldest part of the cathedral and was named after Juan de Herrera, architect of the El Escorial monastery in Spain. While the eastern and western facades are older than most of the rest of the building, their third level has Solomonic columns which are associated with the Baroque period.

All the high reliefs of the portals of the cathedral were inspired by the work of Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens.

The bell towers are the work of Xalapan artist José Damián Ortiz de Castro. They are capped with bell-shaped roofs made of tezontle covered in chiluca, a white stone. Ortiz de Castro was in charge of the cathedral's construction in the latter half of the 18th century until he died, unexpectedly. Manuel Tolsá of Valencia, who had built other notable buildings in Mexico City, was hired to finish the cathedral. At this point, the cathedral had already been 240 years in the making. He added the neo-Classic structure housing the clock, the statues of the three theological virtues (Faith, Hope, and Charity), the high balustrade surrounding the building, and the dome that rises over the transept.

The cathedral has 25 bells—eighteen hang in the east bell tower and seven in the west tower. The largest bell is named the Santa Maria de Guadalupe and weighs around 13,000 kilograms (29,000 lb). Other major bells are named the Doña Maria, which weighs 6,900 kilograms (15,000 lb), and La Ronca ("the hoarse one"), named so because of its harsh tone. Doña Maria and La Ronca were placed in 1654 while the largest bell was placed later in 1793.

The statues in the west tower are the work of José Zacarías Cora and represent Pope Gregory VII, Saint Augustine, Leander of Seville, St. Fulgentius of Écija, St.Francis Xavier, and Saint Barbara. The statues in the east tower are by Santiago Cristóbal Sandoval and depict Emilio, Rose of Lima, Mary (mother of Jesus), Ambrogio, Jerome, Philip of Jesus, Hippolytus of Rome, and Isidore the Laborer.

In 1947, a novice bell ringer died in an accident when he tried to move one of the bells while standing under it. The bell swung back and hit him in the head, killing him instantly. The bell was then "punished" by removing the clapper. In the following years, the bell was known as la castigada ("the punished one"), or la muda ("the mute one"). In 2000, the clapper was reinstalled in the bell.

In October 2007, a time capsule was found inside the stone ball base of a cross, in the southern bell tower of the cathedral. It was placed in 1791, supposedly to protect the building from harm. The lead box was filled with religious artifacts, coins and parchments and hidden in a hollow stone ball. The ball was marked with the date of 14 May 1791, when the building's topmost stone was laid. A new time capsule will be placed in the stone ball when it is closed again.

Situated to the right of the main cathedral, the Metropolitan Tabernacle was built by Lorenzo Rodríguez during the height of the Baroque period between 1749 and 1760, to house the archives and vestments of the archbishop. It also functioned and continues to function as a place to receive Eucharist and register parishioners.

The first church built on the cathedral site also had a tabernacle, but its exact location is unknown. During the construction of the cathedral, the tabernacle was housed in what are now the Chapels of San Isidro and Our Lady of Agony of Granada. However, in the 18th century, it was decided to build a structure that was separate, but still connected, to the main cathedral. It is constructed of tezontle (a porous volcanic rock) and white stone in the shape of a Greek cross with its southern facade faces the Zócalo. It links to the main cathedral through the Chapel of San Isidro.

The interiors of each wing have separate uses. In the west wing is the baptistry, in the north is the main altar, the main entrance and a notary area, separated by inside corner walls made of chiluca stone and tezontle. Chiluca, a white stone, covers the walls and floors and the tezontle, a reddish porous volcanic stone, frames the doors and windows. In the center of the cross is an octagonal dome framed by arches that form curved triangles where they meet at the top of the dome. The principal altar is in the ornate Churrigueresque style and crafted by indigenous artist Pedro Patiño Ixtolinque. It was inaugurated in 1829.

The exterior of the Baroque styled tabernacle is almost entirely adorned with decorations, such as curiously-shaped niche shelves, floating drapes and many cherubs. Carvings of fruits such as grapes and pomegranates have been created to in the shape of ritual offerings, symbolizing the blood of Christ and the Church. Among the floral elements, Roses, Daisies, and various types of four-petaled flowers can be found, including the indigenous chalchihuite.

The tabernacle has two main outside entrances; one to the south, facing the Zocalo and the other facing east toward Seminario Street. The southern facade is more richly decorated than the east facade. It has a theme of glorifying the Eucharist with images of the Apostles, Church Fathers, saints who founded religious orders, martyrs as well as scenes from the Bible. Aoomorphic reliefs can be found along with the anthropologic reliefs, including a rampaging lion, and the eagle from the coat of arms of Mexico. The east facade is less ambitious, but contains figures from the Old Testament as well as the images of Juan Nepumucen and Ignacio de Loyola. Construction dates for the phases of the tabernacle are also inscribed here.

The Altar of Forgiveness is located at the front of the central nave. It is the first aspect of the interior that is seen upon entering the cathedral. It was the work of Spanish architect Jerónimo Balbás, and represents the first use of the estípite column (an inverted triangle-shaped pilaster) in the Americas.

There are two stories about how the name of this altar came about. The first states that those condemned by the Spanish Inquisition were brought to the altar to ask for forgiveness in the next world before their execution. The second relates to painter Simon Pereyns, who despite being the author of many of the works of the cathedral, was accused of blasphemy. According to the story, while Pereyns was in jail, he painted such a beautiful image of the Virgin Mary that his crime was forgiven.

This altar was damaged by a fire in January 1967 but has been completely restored.

The Altar of the Kings was also the work of Jerónimo Balbás, in Mexican Baroque or Churrigueresque style. It was begun in 1718 by Balbás in cedar, and was gilded and finished by Francico Martínez, debuting in 1737. It is located at the back of the Cathdral, beyond the Altar of Forgiveness and the choir. This altar is 13.75 metres (45.1 ft) wide, 25 metres (82 ft) tall and 7.5 metres (25 ft) deep. Its size and depth gave rise to the nickname la cueva dorada ("the golden cave").

It takes its name from the statues of saintly royalty which form part of its decoration, and is the oldest work in churrigueresque style in Mexico, taking 19 years to complete. At the bottom, from left to right, are six female royal saints: Saint Margaret of Scotland, Helena of Constantinople, Elisabeth of Hungary, Isabel of PortugalEmpress Cunegunda and Edith of Wilton. In the middle of the altar are six canonized kings, four of whom are: Hermenegild a Visigoth martyr, Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor, Edward the Confessor and Casimir of Poland. Above these four are Saints Louis of France and Ferdinand III of Castile. In between these kings an oil painting of the Adoration of the Magi by Juan Rodriguez Juarez shows Jesus as the King of kings. The top portion features a painting of the Assumption of Mary as celestial queen flanked by oval bas reliefs, one of Saint Joseph carrying the infant Jesus and the other of Saint Teresa of Ávila with a quill in her hand and the Holy Spirit above her, inspiring her to write. Above this are figures of Jesus and Mary among sculptures of angels crowned with an image of God, the Father.

This altar has been under restoration since 2003.

The Herrera door opens into the sacristy, the oldest part of the cathedral. It is a mixture of Renaissance and Gothic styles.

The walls hold large canvases painted by Cristóbal de Villalpando, such as The Apotheosis of Saint Michael, The Triumph of the Eucharist, The Church Militant and the Church Triumphant, and The Virgin of the Apocolypse. The Virgin of the Apocalypse depicts the vision of John of Patmos. Two other canvases, Entering Jerusalem and The Assumption of the Virgin, painted by Juan Correa, are also here. An additional painting, attributed to Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, hangs in the Sacristy.

On the north wall, there is a niche that holds a statue of the crucifix with a Christ image sculpted in ivory. Behind this, is another mural that depicts the Juan Diego's of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Sacristy used to house Juan Diego's cloak, upon which the Virgin's image purportedly appears, but after massive flooding in 1629, it was removed from the Sacristy to better protect it.

A cabinet on the west wall of the Sacristy, under the Virgin of the Apocalypse painting, once held golden chalices and cups trimmed with precious stones, as well as other utensils.

In 1957, The wooden floor and platform around the perimeter of the Sacristy were replaced with stone.

The cathedral's sixteen chapels were each assigned to a religious guild, and each is dedicated to a saint. Each of the two side naves contain seven chapels. The other two were created later on the eastern and western sides of the cathedral. These last two are not open to the public. The fourteen chapels in the east and west naves are listed below. The first seven are in the east nave, listed from north to south, and the last seven are in the west nave.

The Chapel of Our Lady of the Agonies of Granada (Spanish: Capilla de Nuestra Señora de las Angustias de Granada) was built in the first half of the 17th century, and originally served as the sacristy. It is a medieval-style chapel with a ribbed vault and two relatively simple altarpieces. The narrow altarpiece contains an oval painting of Saint Raphael, Archangel and the young Tobias, a 16th century painting attributed to Flemish painter Martin de Vos. At the top of this altarpiece is a painting of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and above this is a painting of the Last Supper. At the back of the chapel is a churrigueresque painting of Our Lady of the Agonies of Granada.

The Chapel of Saint Isidore (Spanish: Capilla de San Isidro) was originally built as an annex between 1624 and 1627, and was once used as the baptistery. Its vault contains plaster casts representing Faith, Hope, Charity, and Justice, considered to be basic values in the Catholic religion. After the Tabernacle was built, it was converted into a chapel and its door was reworked in a churrigueresque style.

The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception (Spanish: Capilla de la Inmaculada Concepción) was built between 1642 and 1648. It has a churrigueresque altarpiece which, due to the lack of columns, most likely dates from the 18th century. The altar is framed with molding—instead of columns—and a painting of the Immaculate Conception presides over it. The altar is surrounded by paintings by José de Ibarra relating to the Passion of Christ and various saints. The chapel also contains a canvas of Saint Christopher painted by Simon Pereyns in 1588, and the Flagellation by Baltasar de Echave Orio, painted in 1618. The altarpiece on the right side is also dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and was donated by the College of Saints Peter and Paul. This chapel holds the remains of Franciscan friar Antonio Margil de Jesús who was evangelized in what is now the north of Mexico.

The Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Spanish: Capilla de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe) was built in 1660. It was the first baptistery of the cathedral and for a long time was the site for the Brotherhood of the Most Holy Sacrament, which had many powerful benefactors. It is decorated in a 19th century neo-classic style by the architect Antonio Gonzalez Vazquez, director of the Academy of San Carlos. The main altarpiece is dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe and the sides altars are dedicated to John the Baptist and San Luis Gonzaga respectively.

The Chapel of Our Lady of Antigua (Spanish: Capilla de Nuestra Señora de La Antigua) was sponsored and built between 1653 and 1660 by a brotherhood of musicians and organists, which promoted devotion to this Virgin. Its altarpiece contains a painting of the Virgin, a copy of one found in the Cathedral of Seville. This copy was brought to New Spain by a merchant. Two other paintings show the birth of the Virgin and her presentation. Both were painted by Nicolás Rodriguez Juárez.

The Chapel of Saint Peter (Spanish: Capilla de San Pedro) was built between 1615 and 1620, and contains three highly decorated Baroque altarpieces from the 17th century. The altar at the back is dedicated to Saint Peter, whose sculpture presides over the altar. It is surrounded by early 17th century paintings relating to his life, painted by Baltasar de Echave Orio. To the right is an altarpiece dedicated to the Holy Family, with two paintings by Juan de Aguilera of Florence called The Holy Family in the workshop of Saint Joseph and Birth of the Savior. The altarpiece to the left of the main altarpiece is dedicated to Saint Theresa of Jesus whose image also appears in the chapel's window. It includes four paintings on sheets of metal that depict scenes from the birth of Jesus. Five oil paintings illustrate scenes from the life of Saint Theresa, and above this is a semi-circular painting of the coronation of Mary. All these works were created in the 17th century by Baltasar de Echave y Rioja.

The Chapel of Christ and of the Reliquaries (Spanish: Capilla del Santo Cristo y de las Reliquias) was built in 1615 and designed with ultra-Baroque details which are often difficult to see in the poorly-lit interior. It was originally known as the Christ of the Conquistadors. That name came from an image of Christ that was supposedly donated to the cathedral by Emperor Charles V. Over time, so many reliquaries were left on its main altar that its name was eventually changed. Of 17th century ornamentation, the main altarpiece alternates between carvings of rich foliage and small heads on its columns in the main portion and small sculptures of angels on its telamons in the secondary portion. Its niches hold sculptures of saints framing the main body. Its crucifix is from the 17th century. The predella is finished with sculptures of angels, and also contains small 17th paintings of martyred saints by Juan de Herrera. Behind these paintings, hidden compartments contain some of the numerous reliquaries left here. Its main painting was done by Jose de Ibarra and dated 1737. Surrounding the altar is a series of paintings on canvas, depicting the Passion of Christ by Jose Villegas, painted in the 17th century. On the right-hand wall, an altar dedicated to the Virgin of the Confidence is decorated with numerous churrigueresque figurines tucked away in niches, columns and top pieces.

The Chapel of the Holy Angels and Archangels (Spanish: Capilla de los Ángeles) was finished in 1665 with Baroque altarpieces decorated with Solomonic columns. It is dedicated to the Archangel Michael, who is depicted as a medieval knight. It contains a large main altarpiece with two smaller altarpieces both decorated by Juan Correa. The main altarpiece is dedicated to the seven archangels, who are represented by sculptures, in niches surrounding images of Saint Joseph, Mary and Christ. Above this scene are the Holy Spirit and God the Father. The left-hand altarpiece is of similar design and is dedicated to the Guardian Angel, whose sculpture is surrounded with pictures arranged to show the angelic hierarchy. To the left of this, a scene shows Saint Peter being released from prison, and to the right, Saul, later Saint Paul, being knocked from his horse, painted by Juan Correa in 1714. The right-hand altarpiece is dedicated to the Guardian Angel of Mexico.

The Chapel of Saints Cosme and Damian (Spanish: Capilla de San Cosme y San Damián) was built because these two saints were commonly invoked during a time when New Spain suffered from the many diseases brought by the Conquistadors. The main altarpiece is Baroque, probably built in the 17th century. Oil paintings on wood contain scenes from physician saints, and are attributed to painter Sebastian Lopez Davalos, during the second half of the 17th century. The chapel contains one small altarpiece which came from the Franciscan church in Zinacantepec, to the west of Mexico City, and is dedicated to the birth of Jesus.

The Chapel of Saint Joseph (Spanish: Capilla de San José), built between 1653 and 1660, contains an image of Our Lord of Cacao, an image of Christ most likely from the 16th century. Its name was inspired from a time when many indigenous worshipers would give their alms in the form of cocoa beans. Churrigueresque in style and containing an graffito statue of Saint Joseph, patron saint of New Spain, the main altarpiece is Baroque and is from the 18th century. This once belonged to the Church of Our Lady of Monserrat. This altar contains statues and cubicles containing busts of the Apostles, but contains no paintings.

The Chapel of Our Lady of Solitude (Spanish: Capilla de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad) was originally built in honor of the workers who built the cathedral. It contains three Baroque altarpieces. The main altarpiece is supported by caryatids and small angels as telamons, to uphold the base of the main body. It is dedicated to the Virgin of Solitude of Oaxaca, whose image appears in the center. The surrounding 16th century paintings are by Pedro Ramírez, and depict scenes from the life of Christ.

The Chapel of Saint Eligius (Spanish: Capilla de San Eligio), also known as the Chapel of the Lord of Safe Expeditions (Spanish: Capilla del Señor del Buen Despacho), was built by the first silversmith guild, who donated the images of the Conception and Saint Eligius to whom the chapel was formerly dedicated. The chapel was redecorated in the 19th century, and the image of Our Lord of Good Sending was placed here, named thus, since many supplicants reported having their prayers answered quickly. The image is thought to be from the 16th century and sent as a gift from Charles V of Spain.

The Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows (Spanish: Capilla de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores), formerly known as the Chapel of the Lord's Supper (Spanish: Capilla de la Santa Cena), was built in 1615. It was originally dedicated to the Last Supper since a painting of this event was once kept here. It was later remodeled in a Neo-classical style, with three altarpieces added by Antonio Gonzalez Velazquez. The main altarpiece contains an image of the Virgin of Sorrows sculpted in wood and painted by Francisco Terrazas, at the request of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. On the left-hand wall a ladder leads to a series of crypts which hold most of the remains of past archbishops of Mexico. The largest and grandest of these crypts contains the remains of Juan de Zumarraga, the first archbishop of Mexico.

The Chapel of Saint Philip of Jesus (Spanish: Capilla de San Felipe de Jesús) was completed during one of the earliest stages of the construction of the cathedral. It is dedicated to Philip of Jesus, a friar and the only martyr from New Spain, who was crucified in Japan. The chapel is topped with a Gothic-style dome and has a Baroque altarpiece from the 17th century. A statue of the saint is located in a large niche in the altarpiece. The altar to the left is dedicated to Saint Rose of Lima, considered a protector of Mexico City. To the right is an urn which holds the remains of Agustín de Iturbide, who briefly ruled Mexico in the 19th century. Next to this chapel is a baptismal font, in which it is believed Philip of Jesus was baptised.

The cathedral originally had one organ, made in Spain by Jorge de Sesma and installed by Tiburcio Sans in 1693. It now has two, which were probably made in Mexico by José Nassarre of Spain, and completed by 1736, incorporating elements of the original 17th century organ. They are the largest 18th century organs in the Americas. The first restoration of the instruments was completed in 1978. One of organs, called the "Organ of Evangelism" has been undergoing renovation and is scheduled to play again in 2009.

The choir is where the priest and/or a choral group sings the psalms. It is located in the central nave between the main door and the high altar, and built in a semicircular fashion, much like Spanish cathedrals. It was built by Juan de Rojas between 1696 and 1697. Its sides contain 59 reliefs of various saints done in mahogany, walnut, cedar and a native wood called tepehuaje. The railing that surrounds the choir was made in 1722 by Sangley Queaulo in Macao, China and placed in the cathedral in 1730.

The Crypt of the Archbishops is located underneath the floor of the cathedral beneath the Altar of the Kings. The entrance of the crypt from the cathedral is guarded by a large wooden door behind which descends a winding yellow staircase. Just past the inner entrance is a Mexica-style stone skull. It was incorporated as an offering into the base of a cenotaph to Juan de Zumárraga, the first archbishop of Mexico. Zumárraga was considered to be a benefactor of the Indians, protecting them against the abuses of their Spanish overlords. There is also a natural-sized sculpture of the archbishop atop the cenotaph.

On its walls are dozens of bronze plaques that indicate the locations of the remains of most of Mexico City’s former archbishops. The floor is covered with small marble slabs covering niches where the remains of other people are. Ernesto Corripio y Ahumada is also buried here.

There are other crypts and niches in the cathedral where other religious personages are buried, including in the chapels.

The sinking ground and seismic activity of the area have had an effect on the cathedral's construction and current appearance. Forty-two years were required simply to lay its foundation when it was first built, because even then the Spaniards recognized the danger of constructing such a huge monument in soft soil. However, for political reasons, much, but not all, of the cathedral was build over the remains of pre-Hispanic structures, leading to uneven foundation from the beginning.

On 17 January 1962 at 9 pm, a fire caused by an electrical short circuit caused extensive damage to the cathedral. On the Altar of Forgiveness, much of the structure and decoration were damaged including the loss of three paintings; The Holy Face by Alonso López de Herrera, The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian by Francisco de Zumaya and The Virgin of Forgiveness by Simon Pereyns. The choir section lost 75 of its 99 seats as well a painting by Juan Correa along with many stored books. The two cathedral organs were severely damaged with the partial melting of their pipes. Paintings by Rafael Jimeno y Planas, Juan Correa and Juan Rodriguez Juarez were damaged in other parts of the cathedral. After the fire, authorities recorded the damage but did nothing to try to restore what was damaged. Heated discussions ensued among historians, architects and investigations centering on the moving of the Altar of Forgiveness, as well as eliminating the choir area and some of the railings. In 1972, ecclesiastical authorities initiated demolition of the choir area without authorization from the Federal government, but were stopped. The government inventoried what could be saved and named Jaime Ortiz Lajous as director of the project to restore the cathedral to its original condition. Restoration work focused not only on repairing the damage (using archived records and photographs), but also included work on a deteriorating foundation (due to uneven sinking into the ground) and problems with the towers.

The Altars of Forgiveness and of the Kings were subject to extensive cleaning and restorative work. To replace what was lost on the Altar of Forgiveness, several paintings were added; Escape from Egypt by Pereyns, The Divine Countenance and The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. The organs were disassembled with the pipes and inner workings sent to Holland for repair, and the casings were worked upon by Mexican craftsmen. They were reassembled in 1977. Reconstruction of the choir area began in 1979 using the same materials as existed before the fire. In addition, any statues in the towers that had received more than 50% damage from city pollution were taken out, with replicas created to replace them. Those with less damage were repaired.

Some interesting discoveries were made as restoration work occurred during the 1970s and early 1980s. 51 paintings were found and rescued from behind the Altar of Forgiveness, including works by Juan and Nicolas Rodriguez Juarez, Miguel Cabrera and José de Ibarra. Inside one of the organs, a copy of the nomination of Hernán Cortés as Governor General of New Spain (1529) was found. Lastly, in the wall of the central arch of the cathedral was found the burial place of Miguel Barrigan, the first governor of Veracruz.

The cathedral, along with the rest of the city, has been sinking into the lakebed from the day it was built. However, the fact that the city is a megalopolis with over 18 million people drawing water from underground sources has caused water tables to drop, and the sinking to accelerate during the latter half of the 20th century. Sections of the complex such as the cathedral and the tabernacle were still sinking at different rates, and the bell towers were tilting dangerously in spite of work done in the 1970s. This caused the cathedral to be put onto the World Monuments Fund list of the 100 Most Endangered Sites.

Major restoration and foundation work began in the 1990s to stabilize the building. Engineers excavated under the cathedral between 1993 and 1998. They dug shafts under the cathedral and placed shafts of concrete into the soft ground to give the edifice a more solid base to rest on. These efforts have not stopped the sinking of the complex, but they have corrected the tilting towers and ensured that the cathedral will sink uniformly. The cathedral was then removed from the endangered list in 2000.

The cathedral has been a focus of Mexican cultural identity, and is a testament to its colonial history Researcher Manuel Rivera Cambas reported that the cathedral was built on the site sacred precinct of the Aztecs and with the very stones of their temples so that the Spaniards could lay claim to the land and the people. Hernán Cortés supposedly laid the first stone of the original church personally.

It once was an important religious center, exclusive for the prominent families of New Spain (most of whom were of pure european descent). In 1864, during the Second Mexican Empire, Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg and Empress Charlotte of Belgium (later known as Maximiliano and Carlota of Mexico) were crowned at the cathedral, at their magnificent arrival to the head city of their reign.

Located on the Zocalo it has, over time, been the focus of social and cultural activities, most of which have occurred in the 20th and 21st centuries. The cathedral was closed for four years while President Plutarco Elias Calles attempted to enforce Mexico's anti-religious laws. Pope Pius XI closed the church, ordering priests to cease their public religious duties in all Mexican churches. After the Mexican government and the papacy came to terms and major renovations were performed on the cathedral, it was reopened in 1930.

The cathedral has been the scene of several protests, including a protest by women over the Church's exhortation for women not to wear mini-skirts and other provocative clothing to avoid rape, and a candlelight vigil to protest against kidnappings in Mexico. The cathedral itself has been used to protest against social issues. Its bells were rung to express the archdiocese's opposition to the Supreme Court upholding of Mexico City's legalization of abortion.

Probably the most serious recent event occurred on 18 November 2007, when sympathizers of the Party of the Democratic Revolution attacked the cathedral. About 150 protesters stormed into Sunday Mass chanting slogans and knocking over pews. This caused church officials to close and lock the cathedral for a number of days. The cathedral was reopened with new security measures, such as bag searches, in place.

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Source : Wikipedia