Mexico City: A Vision of Riverside Parks



By Damien Cave

Source: New York Times

Two architects, Delfín Montañana and Elías Cattan, submit a visionary plan to Mexico City planners that includes bringing the Río Piedad back to life and revitalizing the city with green public spaces along its waters. Damien Cave reports.

Their proposal would “restore at least three rivers, replacing busy roads with a ring of water and parks around the city center. A few lanes for cars would be allowed on the outer edges, but walking, bicycling and mass transit would take precedence. There would be fish and birds living in the river, and driving across to the urban core would mean paying a congestion tax.

Prophets and young dreamers, however, are rarely good at diagnosis, and in terms of water, Mexico City is practically on its deathbed. What was once a city of interconnected lakes and more than 60 rivers is now a dusty megalopolis with barely a clean stream or pond, with a broad downtown plaza sinking into what was once a wetland, and with a water supply dependent on sources 250 miles away.

These days, city officials say there is only so much they can do to reverse the process. “The truth is that rescuing rivers is a really good idea,” said Martha Delgado, minister of the environment for Mexico City. But, she added, “We have limited resources.”

The rivers that are currently a high priority for the city, she said, are easier to fix — like the Río Magdalena in a southern section of the city, which is not covered by concrete, and not rife with sewage. “The Río Piedad is not a river anymore,” she said. “It’s just not.”

Mr. Cattan thinks the naysayers are overcomplicating matters. Citing a completed road-replaced-river project in Seoul, South Korea, he predicted that the eight-mile Río Piedad could be revived and turned into a park in two years at a cost of about $1 billion.

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About the Author regularly posts articles, photo essays, features, and documentaries from around the web that illuminate the challenges to coexistence between city and wild, developed and developing, human and other. To reach out, write to jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com. Follow us on Twitter @WilderUtopia