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Title: Azcapotzalco  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Mexico City's boroughs, List of conflicts in North America, Aztec, Mexico City, Xochimilco
Collection: Boroughs of the Mexican Federal District, World Digital Library Related
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Skyline of Azcapotzalco
Azcapotzalco within the Federal District
Azcapotzalco within the Federal District
Country Mexico
Federal entity D.F.
Established 1928
Named for Ancient Tepanec city
Seat Av. Castilla Oriente s/n esq. 22 de Febrero
 • Jefe delegacional Sergio Palacios Trejo (PRD)
 • Total 33.6 km2 (13.0 sq mi)
Population 2010[2]
 • Total 414,711
 • Density 12,000/km2 (32,000/sq mi)
Time zone Central Standard Time (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) Central Daylight Time (UTC-5)
Postal codes 02000-02990
Area code(s) 55

Azcapotzalco (Classical Nahuatl: Āzcapōtzalco , Spanish pronunciation: , from āzcapōtzalli “anthill” + -co “place”; literally, “In the place of the anthills”) is one of the 16 delegaciones (boroughs) into which Mexico's Federal District is divided. Azcapotzalco is in the northwestern part of Mexico City. The town began in the pre Hispanic era and was the seat of the Tepanec dominion until the Aztec Triple Alliance overthrew it. After that it was a rural farming area becoming part of the Federal District of Mexico City in the mid 19th century. In the 20th century the area was engulfed by the urban sprawl of Mexico City. Today it is 100% urbanized and is a center of industry. While not the most socioeconomically marginalized part of the city, it does have problems with substandard housing and crime, especially in certain areas along with pollution and traffic.


  • Geography and environment 1
  • Communities 2
  • Socioeconomics 3
  • History 4
  • Culture 5
  • Education 6
  • Transportation 7
  • References 8

Geography and environment

Scene from Parque Tezozomoc

The borough of Azcapotzalco is located in the Valley of Mexico with its eastern half on the lakebed of the former Lake Texcoco and the west on more solid ground. The historic center is on the former shoreline of this lake.[3][4] The average altitude is 2240 meters above sea level.[5] Politically, the borough is extends over 34.5km2 in the northwest of the Federal District of Mexico City, bordering the boroughs of Gustavo A. Madero, Cuauhtémoc, Miguel Hidalgo along with the municipalities of Tlalnepantla de Baz, and Naucalpan in the State of Mexico .[5]

It has a semi moist temperate climate with an average temperature of 15C.[5]

Climate chart ()
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm

As the borough is 100% urbanized, there are no ecological reserves and it is divided into 2,723 city blocks.[4][5] There are 54 parks which have no wild vegetation but rather planted species such as willow, cedar and pine trees. These parks cover 100.51 hectares, which is 2.9% of the entire borough. The most important of these is Parque Tezozómoc and Alameda Norte, which together account for 52.4 hectares.[4][6] Parque Tezozomoc was inaugurated in 1982 designed as a scaled replica of the Valley of Basin of Mexico in the pre Hispanic era.[4] The Alamedia Norte park is located next to the Ferrería station. It has a pond which was used in the past as an ice rink and playing field but was rehabilitated in the 2000s.[7] Other important green areas include community squares such as Plaza Hidalgo, sports centers, college campuses, especially that of the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, community parks and even cemeteries. Sports facilities together cover about 67 hectares of the borough with seventy fields and sports centers open to the public. These include the Deportivo Renovacion Nacional, Deportivo Reynosa, Centro Deportivo Ferrocarrilero and the Unidad Deportiva Benito Juarez.[4] Deportivo Reynosa used to host one of Mexico City’s temporary “artificial beaches” consisting of pools and a sand area, which were constructed by the city government as a service to the poor.[8] The borough has a number of cemeteries which are counted as green spaces, especially San Isidro because of its large size.[4]

There is no surface water with the exeception of the Río de los Remedios which is primarily used for drainage of wastewater.[5] The lowering of water tables in the valley has led to large cracks developing in certain areas of the borough which has caused damage to infrastructure.[4]

The borough is flat with inclines of between zero and five percent with no prominent elevations.[4][5] Because of its flatness, flooding is a problem in heavy rain, especially in areas such as Santiago Ahuizotla, Nueva Santa María, San Pedro Xalpa and Pro Hogar.[4]

Sixty five percent of the borough is occupied by about 500 industries which use toxic substances. There are also hundreds of km of underground gas lines. Nine communities have been classified as high risk because they are surrounded by industries.[9] There are 250 chemical producers mostly concentrated in Colonia Industrial Vallejo which make ethanol, cyanide compounds, phosphates, organic solvents and more.[4] Air pollution is a significant problem in the borough as it is in the rest of Mexico City. Most comes from vehicular traffic and industry and includes

  1. ^ "Delegación Azcapotzalco" (PDF) (in Spanish). Sistema de Información Económica, Geográfica y Estadística. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  2. ^ 2010 census tables: INEGI
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Historia de Azcapotzalco" [History of Azcapotzalco] (in Spanish). Mexico City: Borough of Azcapotzalco. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an "Programa de Gobierno Delegacional 2009-2012" [Program of the Borough Government] (PDF) (in Spanish). Mexico City: Borough of Azcapotzalco. 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Azcapotzalco". Enciclopedia de Los Municipios y Delegaciones de México Distrito Federal. (in Spanish). Mexico: INAFED. 2010. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Nadia Sanders (July 12, 2005). "Planean rescatar zonas historicas" [Plan to rescue historic areas]. Reforma (in Spanish) (Mexico City). p. 3. 
  7. ^ Hernandez (October 14, 2002). "Salva Azcapotzalco un 'espejo de agua' first= Jesus Alberto" [Azcapotzalco saves a "water mirror"]. Reforma (in Spanish) (Mexico City). p. 6. 
  8. ^ Johana Robles (April 13, 2007). "Reabren a medias playa artificial de Azcapotzalco" [Partial reopening of the artificial beach of Azcapotzalco]. El Universal (in Spanish) (Mexico City). 
  9. ^ a b Sara Pantoja (June 24, 2007). "Vive Azcapotzalco bajo riesgo latente" [Azcapotzalco live under latent risk]. El Universal (in Spanish) (Mexico City). 
  10. ^ a b Johana Robles (March 5, 2006). "El abandono castiga al centro de Azcapotzalco" [Neglect punishes the center of Azcapotzalco]. El Universal (in Spanish) (Mexico City). 
  11. ^ Quintanar Hinojosa, Beatriz, ed. (November 2011). "Mexico Desconocido Guia Especial:Barrios Mágicos" [Mexico Desconocido Special Guide:Magical Neighborhoods]. Mexico Desconocido (in Spanish) (Mexico City: Impresiones Aereas SA de CV): 5–6.  
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Acapotzalco" (in Spanish). Mexico City: Mexico Desconocido magazine. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c Hugo Roca (August 19, 2012). "Café, cultura, historia y música" [Coffee, culture, history and music]. Reforma (in Spanish) (Mexico City). p. 8. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Uribe, Jorge Pedro. "Hormigas y chamorros en el corazón de Azcapotzalco" [Ants and pork legs in the heart of Azcapotzalco] (in Spanish). Mexico: Government of Mexico City. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c "Casa de Cultura Azcapotzalco" [Azcapotzalco Cultural Center (House of Culture)]. Sistema de Información Cultural (in Spanish). Mexico: CONACULTA. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  16. ^ Edgar Anaya (June 29, 2003). "Liga su vida a los antepasados" [He linkes his life with the ancestors]. El Norte (in Spanish) (Monterrey, Mexico). p. 18. 
  17. ^ a b c d David Vicenteno (February 7, 1996). "Delincuencia, Balance anual: Azcapotzalco/ Autos, los preferidos" [Crime, annual balance: Azcapotzalco/Autos, the preferred]. Reforma (in Spanish) (Mexico City). p. 4. 
  18. ^ a b c Mirna Servin Vega (July 24, 2007). "Problemas socioeconómicos, origen de la alta incidencia delictiva en Azcapotzalco" [Socioeconomic problems, origin of high crime rate in Azcapotzalco]. La Jornada (in Spanish) (Mexico City). Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  19. ^ "En la delegación Azcapotzalco hay 70 colonias de alto riesgo... [Derived headline]" [In the Azcapotzalco borough there are 70 high risk neighborhoods]. NOTIMEX (in Spanish) (Mexico City). May 20, 2010. 
  20. ^ Mariel Ibarra (April 26, 2011). "Inicia Azcapotzalco mejora de mercados" [Azcapotzalco begins improvement of markets]. Reforma (in Spanish) (Mexico City). p. 2. 
  21. ^ Cabrera (April 18, 2008). "Lanzará incubadora Azcapotzalco first= Gabriela" [Azcapotzalco launches an entrepreneurship program]. Reforma (in Spanish) (Mexico City). p. 9. 
  22. ^ "Celebrará Azcapotzalco tercera ceremonia de matrimonios colectivos" [Azcapotzalco will celebrate the third collective wedding ceremony]. NOTIMEX (in Spanish) (Mexico City). October 16, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Azcapotzalco" (in Spanish). Mexico: Government of Mexico City. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  24. ^ JOSELYN CASTRO (July 11, 2012). "Hallan unos 10 entierros y múltiples vestigios prehispánicos en Azcapotzalco" [Ten pre Hispanic burials and various other remains found in Azcapotzalco]. La Jornada (in Spanish) (Mexico City). p. 6. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  25. ^ a b c d e f Barranco Chavarria, Alberto (December 6, 1998). "Ciudad de la Nostalgia/ Azcapotzalco" [City of Nostalgia/Azcapotzalco]. Reforma (in Spanish) (Mexico City). p. 6. 
  26. ^ Angeles González Gamio (September 28, 2003). "Los cronistas de Azcapotzalco" [The chroniclers of Azcapotzalco]. La Jornada (in Spanish) (Mexico City). Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Parte de Azcapotzalco la peregrinación más antigua hacia La Villa" [The oldest pilgrimage leaves Azcapotzalco to La Villa]. NOTIMEx (in Spanish) (Mexico City). November 9, 2011. 
  28. ^ "El Bajío Azcapotzalco" (in Spanish). Mexico City: Chilango magazine. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  29. ^ Tania Casasola (October 12, 2007). "Azcapotzalco estrena juego educacional" [Azcapotzalco presents educational game]. El Universal (in Spanish) (Mexico City). 
  30. ^ "Información General" [General Information] (in Spanish). Mexico City: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  31. ^ "Atesora la UAM Azcapotzalco 15 nuevas esculturas de gran formato" [UAM Azcapotzalco added fifteen new monumental sculpture]. La Jornada (in Spanish) (Mexico City). November 18, 2012. p. 2. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Misión" [Mission] (in Spanish). Mexico City: ESIME. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  33. ^ "Historia" [History] (in Spanish). Mexico City: ESIME. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Planteles Azcapotzalco." Instituto de Educación Media Superior del Distrito Federal. Retrieved on May 28, 2014.


In the 19th century a major rail station was constructed called the Pical-Pantaco terminal. It is still used for shipping goods between Mexico City and the north of the country but it has also become an obstruction of traffic flow.[4]

Mass transport options include the Mexico City Metro (with nine stations serving lines 6 and 7), the RTP bus system, the trolleybus system and a number of privately owned buses and taxis. Together they transport and estimated 30,000 people per day. Much of this traffic is commuters coming into the borough from the State of Mexico through the El Rosario metro station and bus terminal.[4]

The borough area has had a major road linking it to the historic center of Mexico City since the pre Hispanic period, today called the Mexico-Tacuba road. It continues to be a major thoroughfare. The development of industry in the borough, then extending north and west in to panhandle of neighboring Mexico State has prompted interconnected infrastructure, especially in transportation. Major thoroughfares of this type include Avenida Aquiles Serdán, Calzada Vallejo (Circuito Interior), Eje 3, Eje 4 and Eje 5 Norte especially near the State of Mexico border. Because of its industry and links to other industrial areas in the State of Mexico, Azcapotzalco experiences very heavy traffic flow with an average of 800,000 vehicles transiting within or through it. Traffic jams are common, especially at rush hour and even at off peak times due to faulty synchronization of traffic lights.[4]

Trolleybuses alongside Metro El Rosario


Public high schools of the Instituto de Educación Media Superior del Distrito Federal (IEMS) include:[34]

The borough has 228 schools and other public educational facilities from the pre school to university levels. These include 61 preschools, 79 primary schools, 42 middle schools, 17 high/vocational schools, six night schools, eight special education schools, four middle schools for adults, one open enrollment facility and ten infant development centers. Private education includes 71 pre schools, 21 elementary schools, six middle schools, five high school level institutions and one college. However, many of the schools at the basic levels lack maintenance. The illiteracy rate is 2.34 percent, lower than the 2.9 percent average of the Federal District.[4] In 2007, the borough became the second in Mexico City to open a recreational and educational video gaming center for children with the aim of stimulating cognitive and motor skills, located at the Deportivo Calpulli sports center.[29] The two main higher education campuses are Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM) and Escuela Superior de Ingenería Mecánica y Eléctrica (ESIME) .[4] Located in Colonia Reynosa Tamaulipas, the Azcapotzalco campus of the UAM was established in 1974 and has since grown to over twenty one buildings include classrooms, laboratories, computer labs a 225,000 volume library and more.[30] Its large campus is an important part of borough efforts to maintain green spaces.[4] In 2012, the UAM campus received fifteen monumental sculptures from fifteen notable artists such as Vicente Rojo, Manuel Felguérez, Gilberto Aceves Navarro and Gabriel Macotela.(The project is part of ongoing efforts to keep the campus as a cultural center in the north of the city.[31] The ESIME is part of the Instituto Politécnico Nacional which is dedicated to Electromechanical Engineering at both the undergraduate and graduate levels as well as research.[32] It began as the Escuela Nacional de Artes y Oficios in the latter 19th century.[33] Other institutions include the Colegio de Ciencias y Humanidades (CCH) affiliated with UNAM, TecMilenio Ferrería and UNITEC in San Salvador Xochimanca as well as installations related to Universidad Justo Sierra .[4]


One legend of the area is about the “Enchanted Pool of Xancopina” a fresh water spring that existed during the pre Hispanic era and where Moctezuma is said to have submerged much of his treasure after being defeated by the Spanish. It was located where the Unidad Habitacional Cuitláhuac is now.[12] The first El Bajio restaurant was founded in Azcapotzalco and still is in operation. The chain specializes in Mexico food from the center of the country.[28]

Azcapotzalco holds one of the oldest continuous annual pilgrimages to the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. The annual event is known as the Fiesta de los Naturales in which leaders from 28 communities collect money and more as offering to Guadalupe. Before the procession sets off, there is a festival with fireworks and a mass to bless the pilgrims.[27]

Residents of Azcapotzalco are referred to as Chintololos.[14] There are several stories as to the origin of the term but Azcapotzalco chronicler José Antonio Urdapilleta states that it came from a disrespectful Aztec term “tsintli- tololontic” which means excessively round buttock. Over time the pronunciation changed to the current and its disrespectful meaning disappeared.[26]

Facade of the parish of San Felipe and Santiago Apóstoles


The industrialization created new residential neighborhoods, mostly for the working classes. Two exception were Colonia Clavería and Nueva Santa María which remained middle class in the mid 20th century, mostly descendants of those who had built country homes.[4] In the latter 20th century, the rest of the vacant land in the borough was built over to make the territory 100% urbanized. The urbanized area in the borough increased from 1.8% in 1940 to 95.2% at the beginning of the 1980s. Most of this last construction in the north and west was residential areas. In the 1970s, the Azcapotzalco campus of the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana was established as a major educational center for Mexico City as well as the El Rosario apartment complex, the largest of its kind in Latin America.[4]

From the end of the Mexican Revolution in 1920, the Mexico City area began a process of rapid growth, with the modernization of infrastructure and the establishment of industry in the area. The first factories in the borough were established in Colonia Vallejo in 1929, which lead to the industrialization of most of the area. The Refinería 18 de Marzo refinery was founded at the end of the 1930s and attracted even more industry. Today, it has been abandoned. In 1944, the federal government formally established the industrial zone of Colonia Vallejo. Around the same time the government also established a major rail station for cargo at Pantaco.[4]

[3] According to the 1900 census, the Federal District has an Azcapotzalco District which consisted of the municipalities of Azcapotzalco and

At that time, the area became popular with the wealthy who built country homes, especially along the Mexico-Tacuba road and near the town of Azcapotzalco. This construction was the forerunner of many of the borough’s more modern neighborhoods.[4] In the first decades of the 20th century, rail lines were constructed, including a trolley that connected the town of Azcapotzalco with Mexico City center in 1913.[12][25]

[4] By the end of the 19th century, the municipality had a population of about 11,000 with 7,500 in the seat.[25] In the 19th century the community of San Juan Tlilhuaca was known for its warlocks.[25] The town of Azcapotzalco was still separate from Mexico City by about two leagues.[3] When it became part of the Federal District of Mexico City in 1854, Azcapotzalco was classified as a town as part of the Guadalupe municipality but in 1899 it became the head of its own municipality.[25][4] During the colonial period, the area not underwater was home to a number of

The area remained ruled by the Aztec Empire until 1521, when the Aztecs fell to the Spanish when Azcapotzalco had a population of 17,000.[5] From 1528 to 1529 the Dominicans were in charge of the evangelization of the area under Fray Lorenzo de la Asunción, who built churches of over the former Tepaneca ceremonial center dedicated to the Apostles Phillip and James .[3] Despite accounts that Lorenzo de la Asuncion defended the indigenous against their Spanish overlords,[25] during the 16th century, the indigenous population of the area fell from 17,000 to about 3,000 due to mistreatment and disease.[3]

With the end of the Tepanec Empire political and economic power shifted to Texcoco, Tlatelolco and Tenochtitlan.[4]

Under the Tepanecas, conquered areas were allowed to keep their own leadership as long as they paid tribute and performed military service. In 1427, these leaders included Nezahualcoyotl of Texcoco, Izcoatl of Tenochtitlan and Totoquihuaztli of Tlacopan .[5] When Tezozomoc died, there was a power struggle for the throne which allowed these tribute paying entities a chance to rebel, forming the Triple Alliance and defeating Azcapotzalco in 1428. The former Tepanec lands were divided among the three leaders and the city of Azcapotzalco was destroyed and turned into a slave market.[3][5][12]

When Tula fell, there were new migrations into the Valley of Mexico including Otomis, Mazahuas and Matlatzincas.[4] One of these groups was led by a chieftain called Matlacoatl in the 12th century. Legend states that he established the village of Azcapotzaltongo, which is now Villa Nicolás Romero in 1152, but its development is best documented between 1200 and 1230.[3][5] The village grew to become the Tepanec Empire in the 12th and 13th centuries with a ruling dynasty with the territory expanding over the Valley of Mexico.[4][5] Acolhuatzin was leader from 1283 to 1343. He married a daughter of Xolotl of Tenayuca and then moved the capital of the dominion to what is now the historic center of Azcapotzalco, on the edge of what was Lake Texcoco. He also allowed the Mexica to settle on Tepaneca lands, founding Tenochtitlan, in exchange for tribute and military service.[3][5] The last major ruler of Azcapotzalco was Tezozomoc who ruled from 1367 to 1427. Under him the empire reached over most of the Valley of Mexico into Cuernavaca and north into Tenayuca and Atotonilco .[4][5] This made Azcapotzalco the most important city in the Valley of Mexico and archeological work related to this dominion continues to this day. In 2012, various burials and remains of buildings were found the San Simon Pochtlan neighborhood, believed to have belonged to Tepaneca traders between 1200 and 1300CE. Various other settlements were found in the same area when Line 6 was constructed in 1980.[5][24]

Statue of Tezozomoc in the borough

Pottery and various villages were founded all over the Valley of Mexico from 2200 BCE to 1200 BCE, supported by agriculture with some hunting and fishing. From 1200 to 700BCE the most important villages were in the south of the valley.[3] Around 200 BCE, the Teotihuacan civilization arose and the Azcapotzalco area rose in importance as well being in the empire’s political and cultural sphere. Villages that grew during this time included San Miguel Amantla, Santiago Ahuixotla and Santa Lucia which are in the south of the modern borough.[3][23] When Teotihuacan waned in 800 CE, the Azcapotzalco area remained important as a center of that culture, becoming an important ceremonial center. When Tula rose, Toltec influence then dominated Azcapotzalco and the rest of the Valley of Mexico. Toltec influence is most evident in ceramic finds from Santiago Ahuizotla and was possibly a Toltec tribute city.[4]

The very early history of the area follows that of the rest of the Valley of Mexico.[5] About 7,000 years ago, hunter/gatherers arrived to the valley attracted by the vegetation and large game such as mammoths. Fossilized mammoth, bison and other bones were found when Line 6 of the Metro was constructed. When the large game died out, the inhabitants of the valley turned to agriculture, forming permanent villages sometime between 5000 to 2000 BCE. Various plants were domesticated the most important of which were corn, squash, chili peppers, avocados and beans.[3]

The name is derived from Nahuatl and means “ant hill” with the borough Aztec glyph depicting a red ant surrounded by corn. It comes from a legend that says that after the creation of the Fifth Sun, the god Quetzalcoatl was tasked with recreating man. To do this, he needed to enter the realm of the dead, Mictlan, to recover the bones of men from the Fourth Sun. Ants helped Quetzalcoatl in this endeavor to both find the realm of the dead and bring the bones up as well as grains of corn. Another version of the legend relates to the discovery of corn by observing that ants had put grains underground and corn plants grew there.[3]

17th century glyph to denote Azcapotzalco


The borough provides a number of services in order to ease socioeconomic problems such as health, education, recreational and other programs.[4] It runs twenty traditional fixed markets and has offered vendors courses in marketing.[20] In 2008 the city sponsored an entrepreneurship program along with the Instituto Politécinco Nacional and the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana to help deal with the loss of employment.[21] Starting in 2008, the borough has offered free wedding ceremonies and certificates to encourage couples to formally legalize their unions. The wedding ceremonies are collective and involve hundreds of couples who are married at the same time.[22]

Azcapotzalco is ranked 9th of 16 boroughs in reported crime which is often associated with gangs and the use of drugs.[18] Most of the crime occurs in about ten neighborhoods such as Santa Maria, Claveria, Industrial Vallejo, Villa Azcapotzalco and Unidad Habitacional El Rosario, and areas bordering Naucalpan.[17][18] In the borough there are seventy communities considered to have high drug use accounting for about 45% of the total population. These include La Raza, El Rosario, Prohogar, Industrial Vallejo, La Preciosa, San Pedro Xalpa and Obrera Mundial.[19] There are a number of crime gangs identified by police such as Los Pepes, Los Negros and Los Maquedas.[17] The most frequent violent crimes include muggings, car theft and robbery of a business much of which is related to the socioeconomic problems of the area.[18] Colonia Nueva Santa Maria and Claveria have the highest incidences of carjacking with about ten to fifteen cars stolen per day in the borough.[17]

Housing in the borough is varied. Most residential buildings (45%) are still two or three levels, as a single house with two or three families. Apartment buildings average about five floors. Since the 1970s, there has been construction of extremely large apartment complexes such as the Unidad Habitacional El Rosario. There are also a total of 340 “vecindades,” irregular structures generally made with construction and industrial waste, which can be found mostly in Colonia Pro-Hogar, Colonia Ampliacion San Pedro Xalpa, Coltongo and Liberación. Azcapotzalco is one of the city most crowded boroughs, mostly due to the large apartment complexes, but the decline in population has alleviated this somewhat.[4]

About eighty percent of the borough’s population is working age. Just over 53% of the total population is employed. The rest are mostly students, homemakers and retired. Almost all employed persons work in industry, commerce and services as there no longer is any farm areas. Industry employs just over 21 percent.[4] The most important sector to the borough’s economy is still industry despite its decline since the very late 20th century. Industry accounts for about 72% of the borough’s production with commerce and services accounting for the rest. The industrial zone in Azcapotzalco is one of the most important in the Federal District. This zone is centered on Colonia Industrial Vallejo extending into San Salvador Xochimanca, Coltongo, Santo Tomas, San Martin Xochinahuac, Santa Ines, Santo Domingo, Ampliacion Petrolera, Industrial San Antonio, San Miguel Amantla, San Pablo Xalpa and San Juan Tlihuaca. Much of the industry has slowed or halted due to competition abroad which can make them cheaper. This has led to efforts to reorient the borough’s economy because of the high rates of unemployment and migration out of the area.[4] About sixty percent of the Federal District’s heavy industry is in the borough.[9] The borough accounts for about forty percent of the Federal District’s industrial zoning and provides over fifteen percent of industrial employment.[4]

21.7% of the territory is used for industry. 15.5% for storage, 42.12% for housing, open spaces 2.9% and mixed use 17.78%. Overall, the level of socioeconomic marginalization is low compared to the other boroughs, coming in twelfth of sixteen in 2005. However certain areas of the borough have very high levels of socioeconomic socialization including Barrio Coltongo, Nueva España, Pasteros, Porvenir, Barrio de San Andrés, Pueblo de San Andrés, San Francisco Xocotitla, San Martín Xochinahuac, San Miguel Amantla, San Rafael, San Sebastián, Santa Barbara, Santiago Ahuizotla. Santo Tomas, Tierra Nueva and the Unidad Habitacional Cruz Roja Tepantongo. Sixty nine percent of the communities are considered to be of medium to high marginalization with ten communities considered to be of low socioeconomic marginalization: Ampliación San Pedro Xalpa, Ferrería, Industrial Vallejo, Las Salinas and Santa Cruz de las Salinas.[4]

The borough as it is found today is a product of the growth of the Mexico City area in the 20th century, especially since the 1970s. The population has risen from 534,554 in 1970 to a peak of 601,524 in 1980. The population began to drop to 474,688 in 1990 and 441,008 in 2000. In addition to loss of employment, reasons for the population loss include the 1985 earthquake and the high cost of living space, especially compared to neighboring State of Mexico.[4] Problems in the borough include uncontrolled street vending, historic buildings abandoned or used as commercial space, lack of maintenance of parks, and heavy traffic. This is particularly problematic in the historic center.[10]

Steren company headquarters in the borough


In addition to the historic center there are also a number of other important communities, many of which maintain old traditions. The Barrio de San Miguel Amantla is located near the former 18 de marzo refinery. It is one of the oldest in the borough with one of the oldest churches. In the Mesoamerican period, it was noted for its plumería or the making of objects with feathers.[5] The oldest standing church is in San Miguel Amantla which had fallen into ruins but was rebuilt using the original blocks.[5] Barrio de San Luis is one of over twenty which date from the Mesoamerican period. It is noted for its church and its barbacoa .[14] The Barrio de Santa Apolonia Tezcolco was the site of the Tezozomoc’s treasury. The Barrio de San Juan Tlilhuaca is the largest neighborhood in the borough and contains the largest church. This church is famous for its passion play for Holy Week and is surrounded by old cypress trees said to have been planted as tribute to Moctezuma .[5] During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, several areas in the borough became the site of country homes for the wealthy of Mexico City. Today a number of chalet and English style homes with pitched roofs, towers, porches and gardens can still be seen especially in the Clavería neighborhood. This neighborhood was as exclusive as Colonia Juárez and Colonia Condesa at that time.[12][14] Of the newer housing developments construction in the latter 20th century, the most important is the Unidad Habitational El Rosario. This apartment complex has 170 buildings, with 7,606 apartments housing over 50,500 residents. It is the largest of its kind in Latin America.[5][17]

The oldest library of the borough, Biblioteca Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, has murals by Juan O’Gorman .[14]

The Principe Tlaltecatzin Archeological Museum is a private institution founded by Octavio Romera and focuses on pre Hispanic pieces related to the Azcapotzalco area. It is the result of a lifelong exploration and study of artifacts he found since he was a child. He educated himself on the history and archeology of the area and is considered an expert in the pre Hispanic history and archeology of the area.[16]

An art nouveau house on Avenida Azcapotzalco

The main street in the historic center is Avenida Azcapotzalco, which is home to a number of long established businesses. One of these is the Nevería y Cafetería El Nevado, which has a 1950s rock and roll atmosphere, uniformed waitresses and mid 20th-century furnishings.[12][13] There are several cantinas such as El Dux de Venicia over 100 years old with its original furniture and La Luna established in 1918 and noted for its “torta” sandwiches.[12][14]

Across the street from the plaza are the parish church and the former municipal hall. The Parish and former monastery of San Felipe and Santiago Apóstoles dates from 1565.[12] It has the largest existing atrium in Mexico City, surrounded by a thick wall with inverted arches.[12][14] The main church has a large Baroque portal with contains the main door topped by a choir window. To the side there is a slender bell tower with pilasters on it four sides. Under the bell tower, there is an image of a red ant. A local legend says that when the ant climbs the bell tower, the world will end.[12][14] To the right of the portal are three arches that front the former Dominican monastery. The interior of the church has a Baroque gilded altarpiece with Salomonic columns with contains images of the Virgin Mary. However the main altar is Neoclassical. To the side there is a chapel called the Capilla del Rosario from 1720 which various Baroque and Churrigueresque altars. The former cloisters has remains of its former mural work.[12] Next to the parish and taking over some of its former atrium space is the Casa de Cultura cultural center. The building was constructed in 1891 originally as the municipal hall for Azcapotzalco.[12][15] It has a sandstone portal with a balcony on the upper level featuring a double arch and an ironwork railing from 1894.[12] Inside the building has three exhibition halls on the lower level. The upper level is dedicated to the Sala Tezozomoc hall, larger than the lower halls combined. The garden areas have rosebushes and orange trees. These areas host art exhibits, workshops, classes and other cultural events.[15] The center also has a mural called “La herencia tepaneca en ul umbral del tercer milenio” by Arturo García Bustos, a student of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera .[14] In 1986, the building was named a historic monument by INAH and converted into its current use in 1991 on its 100th anniversary.[15]

The most important community remains the former town of Azcapotzalco, also called the historic center, marked by Plaza Hidalgo. This square consists of fenced stone paths surrounding gardens. Its two main focal points are a statue of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla facing Avenida Azcapotzalco and a six sided kiosk in the center.[12] On Saturdays, chess players convene to play during the afternoon.[13] Café Alameda is on Plaza Hidalgo which is a café and bar with a rock and roll theme. It has images of Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury, Elvis Presley and John Lennon lining its walls. At night on weekends, it hosts live bands which attracts youths from this area of the city.[13] The Historic Archive of Azcapotzalco is located on the south side of Plaza Hidalgo. It contains a mural painted by Antonio Padilla Pérez titled “Origen y Trascendencia del Pueblo Tepaneca.” The building also contains various archeological pieces.[12]

Originally the town of Azcapotzalco consisted of various neighborhoods from the pre Hispanic period. Many of these neighborhoods exist to this day, called colonias, barrios or pueblos. A number of these still maintain individual cultural traits despite being fully engulfed by the urban sprawl of Mexico City. These include San Juan Tlihuaca, San Pedro Xalpa, San Bartolo Cahualtongo, Santiago Ahuizotla, San Miguel Amantla, Santa Inés, Santo Domingo, San Francisco Tetecala, San Marcos, Los Reyes and Santa María Malinalco.[4] Today, the borough has 61 colonias, fifteen pueblos and eleven barrios.[6] In 1986, INAH designated the center of Azcapotzalco as a historical monument.[10] In 2011, the historic center was designated as a "Barrio Mágico".[11]

The Casa de Cultura in the historic center of Azcapotzalco
Plaza Hidalgo in the historic center of Azcapotzalco


Due to the proximity of the old 18 de Marzo refinery (which was part of the borough), there are many underground pipes some of which are still in use. Even more are associated with another nearby but active refinery Terminal de Almacenamiento y Distribución de Destiados de Pemex-Refinación. Most pipelines are found under Avenida Tezozomoc, 5 de Mayo, Salónica, Eje 3 Norte, Ferrocarril Central and Encarnación Ortiz.[4]


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