Notes on the Geography of Mexico: Mexico City: Photo 3
Here's the view the other way, into the colonial city. Francisco Madero runs east to the Zócalo, the great square rimmed most dramatically by the Metropolitan Cathedral on the left, or north. The historic-monument district surrounds the square and within Perimeter B protects a total of 668 blocks, though the concentration of monuments is greatest within Perimeter A, especially west of a line struck north-south through the Zócalo.
Urban development here goes back to the arrival of the Aztecs about 1325; Tenochtitlan, in other words, had a shorter lifespan than the colonial city that replaced it. For most of its existence, that colonial city was filthy and dangerous. It remained so until the arrival in 1789 of a new viceroy, Juan Vicente de Guemez Pacheco de Padilla, the Conde de Revillagigedo. Efforts to do more than clean the city and improve its security awaited the 1860s and the arrival of Maximilian and Carlota. They chose to make the Zócalo a public garden, though it did not stay one. During the 1860s, also, the Aztec canals were finally filled. The present street grid was completed a bit later by Benito Juarez. His Leyes de la Reforma included the confiscation of convent estates, which allowed the cutting through of new roads such as Madero itself, which bisects the old garden of the monastery once attached to the Church of San Francisco.
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