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Water Control in Mexico City


A Visual Conversation with Stacie Widdifield and Jeffery Banister





click here to hear Professor Widdifield and Banister discuss the visual culture of Water Control in Mexico City.


Stacie Widdifield continues her interdisciplinary work with Dr. Jeffrey M. Banister (School of Geography and Development, and the Southwest Center, UA) on the visual culture of modern water in Mexico City supported by an American Council of Learned Societies Collaborative Research Fellowship. The project follows the impact of Xochimilco and Lerma systems in the art history, history, and urban environment of Mexico through today.


Jeffrey Banister is director of the Southwest Center, as well as associate editor and research social scientist.  He is also associate research professor in the School of Geography and Development. 



Photographic Credits

(from the first image on the slideshow leading left)


1. Henry Wellge, Perspective Plan of the City and Valley of Mexico, D.F., 1906, chromolithograph,49 × 105 cm. Courtesy of the University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections.

2. Photographer not specified, Manantiales de Nativitas, Xochimilco, 1910; in: Manuel Marroquín, Obras de Provisión de Aguas Potables para la Ciudad de México, Mexico, 1910.

3. Project Architect, Alberto Pani, Nativitas Pump House, Xochimilco, completed 1910-1911. Photo: Jeffrey M. Banister, 2012. Number 2 pump house in the Xochimilco Potable Water System, ca. 1900- 1913.

4. Water Storage and Distribution Tanks with Access Towers, Cárcamo de Dólores, Chapultepec Park, second section. Xochimilco Potable Water System, ca. 1900 - 1913. Aereal view. Garden designed by Alberto Kalach, 2011. (Video still: Stacie G. Widdifield)

5. Drone photo of the Cárcamo de Dolores, Chapultepec Park, Second Section, completed in 1951. Ricardo Rivas, architect. The Cárcamo marks the place where water moves into the city from the Alto Lerma watershed, via a 60-km aqueduct. In the center foreground of the photo (front entrance of the structure) is the Tlaloc Fountain and Sculpture, created by Diego Rivera. The Tlaloc fountain was made to be appreciated from the air. (Photo by J. Banister and S. Widdifield.)

6. Diego Rivera, Water:The Origin of Life on Earth, 1951, polystyrene mural, interior cistern of the Cárcamo de Dólores, Chapultepec Park, second section, Ricardo Rivas, architect. Photo: Jeffrey M. Banister, 2018. Mural restored and inaugurated in the Museo Jardín del Agua (Water Garden Museum), 2012.

7. Diego Rivera, Water:The Origin of Life on Earth, 1951, polystyrene mural, interior cistern of the Cárcamo de Dólores, Chapultepec Park, second section, Ricardo Rivas, architect. Below the mural depiction of the system’s engineers are the water control gates that allowed water into each of the large storage tanks, located behind the Cárcamo. Water has been routed around the mural tank for more than 20 years now, but the large storage tanks, built for the first potable water system (~1910), are still in use. (Photo: Jeffrey M. Banister, 2018. Mural restored and inaugurated in the Museo Jardín del Agua (Water Garden Museum), 2012.

8. Diego Rivera, Tlaloc Fountain, 1951, stone mosaic, front of main entrance, Cárcamo de Dólores, Chapultepec Park, Second Section, Ricardo Rivas, architect. Photo: Jeffrey M. Banister, 2019. Mural restored and inaugurated in the Museo Jardín del Agua (Water Garden Museum), 2012.

9. Aqueduct ‘breather.’ Part of the Sistema Lerma aqueduct, completed in 1951, that brings water into Mexico City from the Alto Lerma watershed, ~60 kilometers to the west. (Photo by J. Banister)

10. Drone Photograph of the Alto Río Lerma wetlands, water source for the Sistema Lerma, an important part of Mexico City’s potable water. Large sections of this wetland now have Natural Protected area Status. The city continues drawing significant quantities of water from them. (Photo by J. Banister and S. Widdifield)

11. Casasola Archive, Mujeres lavando ropa sobre una piedra a la orilla de un arroyo en un paraje (Women washing clothing on a stone at a spot on the stream), photograph, digital image and print from 4 x 5 negative, 1955/1960, Col. Archivo Casasola, Mediateca INAH, Mexico.

12. Stabilized remains of a portion of the original Chapultepec Aqueduct, built between the 17th and 18th centuries, that brought water into the city from Chapultepec Hill. The colonial aqueduct followed the route of the Aztec aqueduct that preceded it. (Photo by J. Banister)

13. Official city plaque identifying remains of Chapultepec Aqueduct, which includes dates of construction (1624 to 1790) and the total number of arches (904). (Photo by J. Banister)



Stacie Widdifield continues her interdisciplinary work with Dr. Jeffrey M. Banister (School of Geography and Development, and the Southwest Center, UA) on the visual culture of modern water in Mexico City supported by an American Council of Learned Societies Collaborative Research Fellowship. The project follows the impact of Xochimilco and Lerma systems in the art history, history, and urban environment of Mexico through today.


Jeffrey Banister is director of the Southwest Center, as well as associate editor and research social scientist.  He is also associate research professor in the School of Geography and Development. 


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