Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sprawl: Where'd the Lake Go?

This image was originally posted at Wikipedia

Seven hundred years ago, the Aztecs wandered south from their hunting grounds in Aztlan (modern day SW American states of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico) in search of a vision that would signal that they had reached a promised land. This means that well before Mexicans ever snuck into America looking for a better life, Americans had come to Mexico with the same ideas. How long will it take for this pattern to once again flow back on itself?

The sight they craved was an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a cactus. Today we see this in the center of the Mexican flag. It's not surprising that they stumbled across this while passing through the valleys of Mexico, it just surprises me that they witnessed it in the middle of a great lake.

It was on a small island in the middle of Lake Texcoco that they founded their capital of Tenochtitlan in 1325. When the Spanish arrived in 1519 the small island had grown to be eight square kilometers. The Spanish invaders destroyed the city and the Aztecs in 1521 and began to build Mexico City atop the smoking ruins.

Today the sprawl that has become Mexico City is one of the largest in the world. In population it is second only to Tokyo with nearly the population of Taiwan. Those eight square kilometers have grown to be 5,480 kilometers squared. Whereas the Aztecs obscured the views of the lake with the city they built here, the modern world seeks to go one step further and cover the mountains as well.

This image was originally posted at Distrito Federal desde el Aire

This image was originally posted at Distrito Federal desde el Aire

The pictures made me think of Taiwan for obvious reasons. They also make me think of Athens and Calgary and everywhere in between. Athens looks like huge fried egg from the sky with the interesting bits in the center surrounded by millions of acres of what looks like Ladner. I don't even recognize my home town when I fly into it even though I only left it a decade ago. What happens when the megacities start touching each other and the countryside becomes just another fairy tale like elves and free range chicken.

Thanks to Rebecca for sending me the photos. If you want to see more of the series just click on the blue hyperlink under the picture.

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