The Contemporary City at its Limits: Santa Fe, Mexico City

Santa Fe as seen from the Carretera Mexico-Toluca — Photo by Author, Click to Enlarge

Santa Fe, located about a 12-mile drive (or somewhat risky walk) from the center of Mexico City, is, depending on your perspective, the metropolitan area’s most modern district, or its most soulless. Set in the rolling hills west of the city, along the federal freeway to the nearby city of Toluca, it is tenuously connected to the older parts of the city by crowded buses sharing space with cars on boulevards that are ill-equipped to handle the number of commuters to the district.

The condo and office towers along Avenida Santa Fe — Photo by Author, Click to Enlarge

Over 200,000 people work in Santa Fe daily, tens of thousands of students come to study at the universities in the area, and untold numbers have traditionally come to shop at the handful of large malls. While some people live in the gleaming new towers, for the vast majority of people, Santa Fe is a temporary stop in a necessarily long working day.

The bus stop for the official city buses to carry workers back to the city center (and Metro) from Santa Fe— Photo by Author, Click to Enlarge

Developed atop a former sand mine (and later garbage dump), Santa Fe was aggressively developed in the eighties and nineties with the personal support of several heads of the Distrito Federal and the notoriously business and privatization-centric President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. It suffers not only from the above challenges of transportation, but, since it was built so quickly (and seemingly haphazardly) it lacks any sort of public parks, decent pedestrian paths, and adequate infrastructures for carrying water in and out of the area.

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