Mexico City’s Zócalo : A History of a Constructed Spatial Identity book cover
1st Edition

Mexico City’s Zócalo
A History of a Constructed Spatial Identity

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after December 31, 2021
ISBN 9780367510749
December 31, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
256 Pages 55 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book presents a case study of one of Latin America’s most important and symbolic spaces, the Zócalo in Mexico City, weaving together historic events and corresponding morphological changes in the urban environment. It poses questions about how the identity of a place emerges; how it evolves and, why does it change? Mexico City’s Zócalo: A History of a Constructed Spatial Identity utilizes the history of a specific place, the Zócalo (Plaza de la Constitución), to explain the emergence and evolution of Mexican identities over time.

Starting from the Pre-Hispanic period to present day, the work illustrates how the Zócalo reveals spatial manifestations as part of the larger socio-cultural zeitgeist. By focusing on the history of changes in spatial production -what Henri Lefebvre calls society’s "secretions"- Bross traces how cultural, social, economic and political forces shaped the Zócalo’s spatial identity, and in turn, how the Zócalo shaped and fostered new identities in return. It will be a fascinating read for architectural and urban historians investigating Latin America.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: From Mexica Axis Mundi to Spanish Conquest

Chapter 2: The Plaza Mayor’s Nascent Urbanscape

Chapter 3: Major Events in the Plaza Mayor during the Viceroyalty

Chapter 4: The Last Decades of the Viceroyal Period

Chapter 5: A Nascent National Identity

Chapter 6: Mexico’s Second Empire and the Restored Republic

Chapter 7: Expressions of National Identity During The Porfiriato

Chapter 8: From the Mexican Revolution to World War II

Chapter 9: The Plaza de la Constitución in the Second Half of the 20th Century

Chapter 10: A Recent History of the Zócalo as Public Space

Chapter 11: The Zócalo, Mexico’s Public Square


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Benjamin Bross is a registered architect and Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.


"Mexico City’s Zócalo has molded Mexican identity as much as it has been reconfigured by this complex and diverse society over the past seven centuries. Benjamin Bross's masterful prose unearths the layers of history at the epicenter of the city, from the first settlements in a primeval landscape of volcanoes and lake systems to one of the largest metropolis of the 21st century, one which seems to have severed its ties to nature yet remains subject to its inner workings. The Zócalo is the beating heart and soul of Mexico, a symbol of the constant reinvention and reinterpretation of its spatial identities, both national and local." Dr. Gabriela Lee Alardín, Department of Architecture, Urbanism and Civil Engineering, Ibero-American University, Mexico City

"No matter the path we follow, vertigo is what we feel when we enter to El Zócalo through one of several scenic streets or avenues such as Francisco Madero, 5 de Mayo, Pino Suárez or 20 de Noviembre. That feeling is even stronger when we realize that we are facing the architectural landscape of more than seven uninterrupted centuries of human settlement. With this masterly and beautifully written book, Benjamin Bross demonstrates that this vertigo has an explanation. El Zócalo is a privileged space in which the prodigious cultural diversity and historical depth of Mexico can be thought. Strata after strata, this longue durée study exposes continuities and discords, remembrances and oblivions that are best intelligible within architecture and public space. The goal of Benjamin Bross book is challenging as well as ambitious. Unravelling one by one the meanings of space changes in El Zócalo is to open windows for the understanding of the evolution and consolidation of a Mexican solid sense of national unity, despite been constantly confronted by too many forces." Dr. Jorge L. Lizardi Pollock, Professor of History, Theory and Research, University of Puerto Rico School of Architecture