Mexico City: thoughts

First impressions that I scribbled down about Mexico City:
– Wow, it is indeed high up. Bring some nasal spray to combat the sniffles.
– A great number of buildings are indeed askew, which did not help my occasional difficulty in descending stairs.
– Speaking of stairs, their metro is the only place where I have ever seen metal escalator treads worn down by heavy pedestrian traffic. Stone, sure, but wow!
– Also the only other place, besides Tokyo, where subway passages are given lanes — and the arrows have been planned to point you in the most direct route, getting everyone out of one another’s way. (This confused me at first in Tokyo, since the directional markers often added to the general confusion over whether to walk on the left or right.)
– The only useful thing about Polanco is its street names — scientists and poets.
– After being thoroughly disgusted with Polanco, I had no appetite to venture even further out (half an hour past the subway!) to the manufactured Edge City of Santa Fe. I’m pretty sure that the Google Earth view is more interesting, anyhow. Of course, it’s classic sectoral urbanism — the favored quarter just follows Reforma out, and out, and out… and demands more infrastructure as it goes.
– Subsidized gasoline must explain, to some extent, the popularity of monster SUVs and ancient gas-guzzlers alike.
– Something about the scale of the blocks downtown, their early-20th-century stone architecture, the wall-to-wall commerce, and the nonstop crowds reminded me more of Shanghai than of other large Latin American cities I’ve been to.
– Note that it’s early 20th century architecture; even though the city was settled almost 800 years ago, it was tiny up until the 20th century (and the postwar years in particular). In 1900, it scarcely extended for a few blocks past the Alameda.
– The overhead cost of providing so many security guards everywhere must add considerably to the cost of doing business. It is pretty reassuring, though, to have a few cops standing around on every block downtown.
– Amusing photo: Martha on an Ecobici! It’s heartwarming that bike-sharing is what the mayor of Mexico City shows off to foreign celebrities.

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