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Mexico City Modernization

Very rare report concerning early 20th-century modernization efforts of Mexico City's drainage and sewer systems - by its chief engineer and designer Roberto Gayol. The report includes two excellent lithograph maps, including a large detailed map of Mexico City. The present report, with text in English, was issued for the 39th Annual Convention of the American Society of Civil Engineers, held in Mexico City.

The larger map, dated 1907, shows the central street layout of Mexico City and was lithographed in Mexico by the Compañía Litográfica y Tipográfica, S. A. It shows the main sewer lines of the growing city, highlighting the unique flushing system designed by Gayol.

The smaller map, also full of interest, is dated 1901, and shows the entire Valley of Mexico, including lakes and drainage canal systems:

Plano de Los Lagos del Valle de México... con la Indicación de los Canales Colectores y Eyectores del Agua que Servirá para limpiar las atarjeas.

Translated title: Plan of the Lakes of the Valley of Mexico... with the Indication of the Collector and Ejector Channels of Water that Will Serve to Clean the Sewers.

Roberto Gayol (1857-1936), noted as one of Mexico's cientificos - scientifically-trained technicians - during the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, was a key figure in Mexico City's modernization during the early 20th-century. A graduate of the Escuela Nacional de Ingenieros, he became a distinguished professor and contributed significantly to the development of Mexico City's infrastructure. Gayol's expertise in soil mechanics and drainage was integral in designing the modern water and sewer systems for the central part of Mexico City, including the first modern suburbs of the Condesa and Roma neighborhoods. In particular Gayol was adept at addressing the city's sinking issues through innovative engineering. One Gayol design which is reflected in the present report and maps, involved a novel cleansing system for the city's sewers. His projects, including the construction of a sewage pumping system near San Lázaro canal and various major public works, showcased Gayol's commitment to improving urban living conditions. 

In Francophile Mexico, Gayol denounced those who toured Paris's famous sewer system... According to Gayol, a city's sewer system functioned properly only if it was built according to solid engineering principles that conformed to a given urban environment. He made exhaustive studies of major metropolitan sewer systems, traveling throughout North America in 1886, yet these always led him back to Mexico City: its geography and its settlement patterns  - Matthew Vitz, A City on a Lake.

By demonstrating and illustrating his large-scale hydraulic engineering projects, the present report and maps fully reflect Gayol's legacy of modernization in Mexico City


This report is very rare. No copy of either the report or the individual maps on OCLC. Only 2 examples on RBH in the last 35 years.

Condition Description
Octavo. Original printed wrappers. Front wrapper neatly detached. 10 pages and 2 folding lithograph maps of Mexico City. The larger map tinted, with outline color, the smaller map with some outline color. Maps are in fine condition. Wrappers a bit dust soiled.
Vitz, Matthew, A City on a Lake: Urban Political Ecology and the Growth of Mexico City, page 29 and passim.