Precisely because of the abundance of water, the Valley of Mexico was conducive to human settlements, from the city of Tenochtitlán to the capital of the Viceroyalty. In fact, in the 16th century, the rivers of Mexico City amazed the Spanish for their great beauty.
Unfortunately, in that same century, due to the permanent risk of flooding, the order was to drain lakes and relocate the riverbeds of the capital. Today, these bodies of water have almost completely disappeared from the urban landscape and are replaced by asphalt sheets. Is this progress?
What happened to the rivers of Mexico City
It seems that everything began in 1555, when a flood of the Santiago River alerted the new residents of the city about the risks of coexisting with the beds of that and other rivers, such as Coyoacán and Tacubaya. Immediately, the viceregal government decided to divert the course of some channels and almost a century later, continued with the task diverting the waters of the Morales River and the Cuautitlán River, which due to poorly carried out works, caused the death of thousands of people.
According to the historian Francisco de Garay, in his work The Valley of Mexico, historical notes on its hydrography, Already in the 19th century, the current of the Tacubaya River and that of the Xola River threatened flooding, so in 1825 their waters were channeled to flow into the National Canal, in what would become the La Piedad River.
Later, in the first half of the 20th century, there were still the De los Remedios, Consulado, Tlalnepantla, De la Piedad and Churubusco rivers, whose courses were controlled by the Dolores and Tecamachalco dams.
The decision to pipe the rivers arrives
With the growth of the urban sprawl in Mexico City, the rivers lost the intensity of their current as well as the purity of their waters and had become sources of infection and garbage dumps. The most problematic were the Churubusco River and the Consulado River.
Consequently, in 1942 it was decided to intubate them. At the same time, works were developed to control the Mixcoac, Becerra and Tacubaya rivers. These adjustments did reduce the danger of flooding in the city, but at a high ecological cost.
Subsequently, by 1950, the De la Piedad river and part of the Tacubaya and Becerra rivers had also been piped, and in a few years the Mixcoac river suffered the same fate.
In the following decades the tubes would reach the Magdalena River, the San Juan de Dios River in Tlalpan, and the Miramontes channel. Finally, the Remedios River, converted into a sewage channel, would be piped to allow the construction of the Peripheral Ring in its northwestern section. Today only a section of almost 16 kilometers in the west of the city survives.