Changing Planet

Explorations in Suburban Mexico City, a Picture Transect

A crowd on top of the Cerro de Ehecatl, namesake of Ecatepec, Estado de México
A crowd on top of the Cerro de Ehecatl, namesake of Ecatepec, Estado de México — Photo by author, click to enlarge

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It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been present on the blog, but while I’ve been away, I’ve had a great set of excursions into the edges of Mexico City. From semi-rural compounds in the hills of Tlalpan, to a hilltop site of traditional religious ceremonies in Ecatepec, to the former city dump Bordo de Xochiaca and the industrial suburb of Tlalnepantla, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to revisit parts of the city that I’ve been before, and to explore others that I previously didn’t know.

What I’ve seen recently is a variety of self-built and government-sponsored neighborhoods, in varied terrains and imbued with distinct histories. As I’m coming into the last weeks of my work here, I’m feeling a bit of the pressure to make a set of views of the diversity of the city’s built form and ways of living fit into a singular model of suburban, or peri-urban growth of the urban area. I have some ideas, of course, but no firm answers yet. As I continue to photograph, experience, and learn from residents of these different spaces, I hope to continue to hone in on the underlying patterns of expansion.

But in the meantime, I want to simply share some of places I’ve seen. These are photographs of the greater Mexico City region as I’m seeing it, with a map to help locate them within the Valley of Mexico. To follow more closely, please follow me on my Instagram, and let me know your thoughts here in the comments.

Self-built homes in Quiltepec, Tlalpan
Self-built homes in Quiltepec, Tlalpan, DF — Photo by author, click to enlarge
A rainwater capture system installed at a home in Quiltepec, Tlalpan
A rainwater capture system installed at a home in Quiltepec, Tlalpan — Photo by author, click to enlarge
Homes and Businesses in Santa Barbara, Ixtapaluca
Homes and Businesses in Santa Barbara, Ixtapaluca — Photo by author, click to enlarge
Pyramids and the hillside settlement of Chapulínes, Ixtapaluca
Pyramids and the hillside settlement of Chapulínes, Ixtapaluca — Photo by author, click to enlarge
El Guerrero Chimalli, the symbol of Chimalhuacán
El Guerrero Chimalli, the symbol of Chimalhuacán — Photo by author, click to enlarge
Soccer fields at the city dump at Bordo de Xochiaca, Neza — Photo by author, click to enlarge
Trainyards and hillside settlements, Tlalnepantla
Trainyards and hillside settlements, Tlalnepantla — Photo by author, click to enlarge
Lazy Afternoons in Tlalnepantla
Lazy Afternoons in Tlalnepantla — Photo by author, click to enlarge
Dawn at Las Américas, Ecatepec
Dawn at Las Américas, Ecatepec — Photo by author, click to enlarge
Los Angeles native Michael Waldrep is a documentary filmmaker, multimedia artist and researcher, currently in Mexico City to document the city, its neighborhoods and its 22 million inhabitants through writing, mapping, data visualization, photography and video. He is one of five inaugural Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellows.
  • Sergio

    It is a real pleasure to come across stories that are relevant to the reader.
    I’m originally from Mexico City, but lived many years in Neza. Great work Michael!

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