Adrian Baumann
East Whittier Middle School

The Aztec City

By the fifteenth century Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital was a huge and growing metropolis. By 1519 its population was estimated at around 200,000. Tenochtitlán was divided into four separate neighborhoods: a central plaza in which great temples were built and three nearby districts in which the inhabitants of this city lived and worked. Since the city had started out on a small island it soon ran out of space. To solve this problem the Aztecs built artificial islands with canals running through them and bridges called causeways running over the canals. The city was very similar to modern day Venice in that respect.

Because Tenochtitlán was and island, space for farming soon became limited. To solve this problem the Aztecs built floating gardens called chinampas. These were twigs bunched together with mud stacked on top. These were not anchored to the lake at first and could be towed by canoe, but after a few years the plants' roots would anchor the chinampa to the lake.

A good chinampa could yield wonderful crops. These chinampas are still used throughout Mexico. Mexico's economy thrives on agriculture, specifically corn.

You can see a far reaching echo of Aztec times today in the Mexican tradition of Tianguis. Tianguis is an Aztec word which means open air market place. These are held throughout Mexico, even in the most urban and cosmopolitan areas such as Mexico city where, you will see them throughout the city.


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