Education

Plaza de la Constitucion, Mexico City, Mexico, 1922


Historical Context
Mexico City is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Americas.  In the 1300s, the Aztecs founded the city, which they called Tenochtitlan, on an island in Lake Texcoco.  In 1521, the Spanish captured the city, destroying much of it.  About 100,000 of the native population died in battle or from diseases carried by the Spaniards.  However, by the early 1600s, the city’s population had grown enough that the Spaniards began to drain the lake in order to expand.  Today, Mexico City is one of the world’s largest cities with more than 18 million people living in the metropolitan area.  

The Plaza de la Constitucion, or El Zocalo, in the photograph is the main square in Mexico City and one of largest city squares in the world.  The plaza has been the center of the city since Aztec times.  The Plaza was given its name in 1812 to celebrate the Spanish Constitution of 1812.  Today, a huge national flag flies in center of square, and national events such as the celebration of Mexican Independence Day and the inauguration of new presidents take place in the Plaza.  Some of the important buildings on the plaza include the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Metropolitan Sagrario, the National Palace, the Supreme Court of Justice, City Hall, the Monte de Piedad building, and the Gran Hotel. 
Essential Question
How does culture influence the development of government?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain the significance of this location in Mexican culture.
[click to enlarge]
Document Description
La Plaza de la Constitucion, or El Zocalo, in Mexico City, 1922.
Questions
  1. What makes the Plaza in the photograph a good place for Mexicans to gather for important events?
Historical Challenge
Why is the Plaza de la Constitucion nicknamed El Zocalo?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Measure and find the area of a town square, plaza, or park in your community. How many people would fit in the square, plaza, or park if each person needed nine square feet to stand?
Science: What is causing buildings in Mexico City to sink into the ground? Is this a problem at the Plaza de la Constitucion? Brainstorm possible solutions to the problem.
Resources
  1. Goodwin, William. Mexico (Modern Nations of the World). San Diego: Lucent, 1999.