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Old 08-06-2002, 11:33 AM
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: New York
Posts: 815
What happened to Lake Texcoco?

Another of those little questions that has bugged me off and on:

Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec empire was surrounded by a lake. Then the spaniards got there and, some time after(?) Tenochtitlan became Mexico City, Lake Texcoco disappeared. It can still be found in the atlas, but only as a dried up lake.

So: did the Spaniards drain Texcoco, or did it disappear because some kind of required maintenance was not performed? Is there some effort required to this day to keep the lake dry? And is there so much as a puddle in Mexico City that remains of it?

And btw, is the present day town of Texcoco in the same place as the pre-Cortes city?
Old 08-06-2002, 12:20 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 16,823
I heard they filled it in or something, though i'm not sure why.

And btw, is the present day town of Texcoco in the same place as the pre-Cortes city?
I am the first one to admit my ignorance here, but from what I recall, Mexico City is surely large enough to fill much of the lake. Texcoco might be on part of the former lake, though.
Old 08-06-2002, 12:31 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 1,176
The Spaniards only damaged the existing Aztec canals. This caused periodic flooding but hte lake remained. As the city grew and became industrialized over the next few hundred years, more room was needed for expansion. Around 1910, a drainage canal was built that helped to dry up the lake. It had been shrinking for thousands of years anyway.
Old 08-06-2002, 12:45 PM
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: El Paso, Texas
Posts: 1,836
Lake Texcoco is still there. There is also still a lake in Mexico City called Xochimilco («Place of Flower Gardens»). It is basically what's left of the lake in the city. Several scattered lakes are left of the original, including a 'lake Texcoco"

The Spaniards basically blocked off the incoming water sources with dikes, and Mexico City spread out from the Tenochtitlán site over parts of the lake bed.

By the way, the soil remains very spongy, and large buildings made before modern engineering techniques tend to slowly sink (!). Also seismic waves really roll in a lake bed.

The current area of Texcoco was in the news lately when the Mexican government proposed a huge new airport there - with all the flat land availiable - but local farmers (with some of the last farmland in the metropolitan region) protested vehemently and the idea was just scrapped.

I know there is a small nature park in that area too.

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