Mexico City

Mexico City  is situated seven thousand four hundred and ten feet above the sea at the lowest level of the great basin (fourteen hundred square miles) of the Anahuac plateau.

All the main streets converge on the Plaza Mayor, where the site of the old teocalli is occupied by the no less famous Cathedral. The walls of this imposing building, forming a cross four hundred and twenty-six by two hundred and three feet, alone cost nearly two million dollars, and the interior with its twenty chapels and elaborate ornamentation, much more. Built into the foot of one of the two open towers (two hundred and eighteen feet) is the famous “Aztec” (Toltec) calendar stone.

Facing the cathedral is the Municipal Palace, and on the sides of the plaza are the National Palace (the old vice-regal residence), the national Monte de Piedad, the postoffice, and the national museum.

Other noteworthy buildings are the national picture gallery and library (two hundred and fifty thousand volumes), the national observatory, the school of mines, the mint, the Iturbide hotel, and the former palace of the Inquisition, now a medical college; and, mostly in secularized ecclesiastical edifices, there are also schools of law and engineering, a conservatory of music, and an academy of fine arts.

Among the monuments of the city are the noble Columbus monument, the statue of Cuauhtemotzin, the last of the Aztec emperors, and that of the engineer Martinez.

The principal streets are broad, clean, and well paved and lighted, with houses of stone gaily painted in bright colors. In addition to the alameda, with its stately beaches, Mexico is remarkable for the extent and beauty of its paseos, or raised paved roads, planted with double rows of trees, which diverge far into the country from every quarter; and there are still on Lakes Chalco and Xochimilco, where a line of steamers runs, a few of the floating gardens for which the ancient city was so celebrated.

Attempts had long been made to drain the valley of Mexico. The federal government finally undertook the work, and operations begun in 1890 were completed in 1898 at a cost of about sixteen million dollars. Extensive drainage and sanitation works have since been carried out at a cost of five million seven hundred and fourteen thousand nine hundred and eighty-two dollars.

In 1905 a sumptuous legislative palace, a national Pantheon for the ashes of the great men of Mexico, and a monument to perpetuate the heroes of the independence were under construction, at a cost of thirty million dollars.

The trade of Mexico is chiefly a transit trade, but it has now extensive cotton and linen factories, paper mills, tobacco and cigars, gold and silver work, pottery, silverware, cork, bricks, and soap—many of them due to foreign enterprise.