Similar Sister Cities

<p>A look at the similarities between Los Angeles and Mexico City.</p>
March 11, 2008, 7am PDT | Nate Berg
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"The obvious first point of similarity is geography: Like the Los Angeles basin, Mexico City's metropolitan area is also built in a basin with mountain ranges spiking up around it. The valley was a series of shallow lakes that megalomaniac colonizers filled. As in the L.A. region, as Mexico City's metropolitan area continues to creep outward, it stretches far beyond the original city limits - here called the Federal District - and is rapidly saturating the Mexico basin. In 1960, the metropolitan area claimed five million inhabitants. Today, that figure nears 20 million, spread over 1,400 square kilometers."

"The city's subway system illustrates its growth. Like Los Angeles', it is geographically skeletal. The majority of today's 11 metro lines were constructed in the first three staggered phases of construction, from 1967 to 1985. While the 110 miles of metro lines were never intended to stretch all the way to the edges of the city, the final subway stops today don't even approach the limits of the metropolitan zone's populated area, which spills much farther north than the longest metro line. Overlay a metro map and a density map, and the metropolitan area's planning shortcomings are woefully clear. Even as the periphery extends with residential neighborhoods, it's mainly the working poor who use the subway, just as in Los Angeles."

"Government control over growth is minimal, which is where comparisons with Los Angeles' current situation diverge. Everyone acknowledges a dire need for stricter, enforced urban-planning regulations."

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Published on Friday, March 7, 2008 in LA Weekly
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