Mexico City in the 19th and 20th Centuries

After independence, Mexico City was the capital of the state of the same name. On November 18, 1824, Congress decided to create a federal district, an entity that would house the federal powers. The territory of the Federal District was made up of Mexico City and six other municipalities: Tacuba, Tacubaya, Azcapotzalco, Mixcoac and Villa de Guadalupe-Hidalgo. On February 20, 1837, the Federal District was suppressed, to be reestablished in 1846.

During the 19th century, the Federal District was the central scene of all the political disputes in the country. It was the imperial capital on two occasions (1821-1823 and 1864-1867), and of two federalist states and two centralist states that succeeded each other after countless coups d’état in the space of half a century before the triumph of the liberals after the War of the Reform.. It was also the target of one of the two French invasions of Mexico (1861-1867), and occupied for a year by American troops in the framework of the American Intervention War (1847-1848).

Towards the end of the 19th century, the Government of Mexico decided to carry out numerous urban works that, although they had Mexico City as their focus, would end up affecting the entire territory of the Federal District. Among them is the construction of the Grand Canal del Desagüe, begun around 1878 and completed in 1910. This work brought the lakes that covered a large part of the capital’s territory almost to the brink of extinction. Steamboats were introduced for transportation through the canals of the valley, and trams for land transportation. Little is said about culture in this century, which had among its most notable characters José María Velasco, naturalist and landscape painter from the Valley of Mexico. At this time, musical genres such as son and syrup became popular in the capital. And in the field of literature, works such as El periquillo sarniento, by José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi were written.

In operatic production, Aniceto Ortega’s opera Guatemotzín is the first conscious attempt to incorporate native elements into the formal characteristics of the opera. Within the Mexican operatic production of the 19th century, the opera Agorante, rey de la Nubia by Miguel Meneses, premiered during the commemorative festivities for the birthday of Emperor Maximiliano I of Mexico, the operas Pirro de Aragón by Leonardo Canales, Keofar by Felipe Villanueva stand out., and, above all, the operatic production of Melesio Morales, the most important Mexican composer of operas of the 19th century, whose works were very successful among the public in Mexico City and which, still, were released in Europe.

With the beginning in the 20th century of the Mexican Revolution (which ended decades of Porfirio Díaz’s dictatorship), the Federal District was successively occupied by the Maderistas, the Zapatistas and Villistas, and finally the Carrancistas. This last faction would be replaced by the so-called Grupo Sonora, which in turn would give rise to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (and its antecedents) that dominated the Government of Mexico from 1929 to 2000.

In 1929 the municipal system in the Federal District was abolished, with which the thirteen existing municipalities in its territory disappeared. Later a law would be promulgated that divided the entity into sixteen political delegations whose residents were unable to elect representatives and local governments until 2000. With the period of economic peak known as the Mexican Miracle (1950s and 1960s), Mexico City He lived through a period of unprecedented urbanization in the country. Its population doubled in less than twenty years, and it gradually absorbed the nearby towns, until it overflowed the territory of the Federal District. Numerous public works were inaugurated in that period. Among them we can mention the Ciudad Universitaria and the Azteca Stadium.

Also from 1950, Mexico City was the scene of numerous expressions of disagreement against the PRI government. In the 1950s, the railroad protests took place, which ended with the imprisonment of several of their leaders (such as Demetrio Vallejo). In 1968, students from numerous public and private schools also started a series of protests that ended with the Tlatelolco Massacre on October 2 by the Mexican Army. Three years later, on June 10, 1971, a demonstration of students from the Higher Normal School were attacked by the Government, in what is known as Corpus Thursday. On September 19 In 1985, Mexico City was severely damaged by an 8.1 Richter earthquake. From then on, the capital’s civil society began to increasingly take control of those spaces that the State had left abandoned. As a result, in the controversial federal elections of 1988, the PRI was widely defeated in the Federal District by the FDN.

In 1997, the Federal District elected its head of government for the first time since 1929. On that occasion, the PRI lost control of the city at the hands of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and its candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano. Since then, this party has won the elections for the head of the Federal District government on three consecutive occasions (1997, 2000, 2006).

Mexico City in the 19th and 20th Centuries

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