Mexico City, Mexico

City: Mexico City

State: Mexico

Lat/Long: 19.4342, -99.1386

Mexico City is the capital and largest city of Mexico and the oldest capital city in the Americas. The Aztecs (Mexica) founded what they called Tenochtitlán in 1325. As the Aztecs (Mexica) grew in strength and power, Tenochtitlán became the capital of the Aztec Empire, a cosmopolitan city of over 80,000 inhabitants by the 1440s. In 1519, Spaniards under Hernán Cortés arrived, and in 1521, Cortés and his men captured and burned Tenochtitlán. Cortés rebuilt the city on the site of Tenochtitlán and it became the capital of New Spain. The discovery of silver several hundred miles northwest of the city resulted in increased population and prosperity in the sixteenth century, and Mexico City became the home of the royal treasury and the America’s first printing press and university. By the end of the seventeenth century, Mexico City had a population of 50,000. The eighteenth century witnessed a future transformation of the city, as it became a magnet for Indians and mestizos from the countryside seeking work. Mexico City boasted a population of 120,000 at the dawn of the nineteenth century. Mexico City remained a stronghold for Spanish rule during Mexico’s struggle for independence, but in 1821, the rebels captured the city, and it became the capital of the new Republic of Mexico. During the Mexican War, the United States Army captured and occupied Mexico City. The postwar period witnessed a period of reform and reaction in Mexico, and in 1863, the French captured the city and made it the capital of the ill-fated empire of Archduke Maximilian.

Nick Caistor, Mexico City: A Cultural and Literary Companion (Oxford: Signal Books, 2000), 4-26.