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u = u.replace(/\/newsid_\d+/g, '/'); Slanted buildings leer menacingly over pavements, their doors and windows no longer in alignment with their friends as if crudely displaced from a grotesque theme park funhouse. They started draining the lake and cutting down the forests on its shores, making the city more susceptible to intense flooding.

All rights reserved. In short, the city’s pores are clogged.

Get Stranger’s Guide delivered to your door! The consequences of the draining, completed in the 20th century, were enormous: the area turned semi-arid and currently the city experiences water scarcity. Now, without the lakes, Mexico City turned to the groundwater for drinking water. return geo_edition;

Now the problem is getting worse.

This whole building is an expression of love and faith of all believers.".

The island city Tenochtitlán was smattered with canals, causeways, and dikes. Many of Mexico City’s buildings are seriously leaning because of land subsidence.

The Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City is the oldest of its kind in the Americas - but it's in crisis. Giant sinkholes open up without warning, swallowing parts of roads. //

Working with writers from around the globe, both online and in print, we seek to evoke new places and showcase new perspectives.

Why is Mexico City sinking? ]+$/, '' );

The image is unforgettable.

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Their grand cathedral starting sinking as soon as the roof went on, but they were too busy subjugating more kingdoms to worry about that. Subsidence is now stabilized in the city center but is still a major problem in most parts of the metropolitan area. Mexico City is sinking. u = u.replace(/\/bbc_sport\//, '/sport/');

if(m!=-1){b="&"+unescape(k[g].substring(m+6))}}document.cookie=e+"=; expires="+new Date(new Date().getTime()-60).toGMTString()+"; path="+a+"; domain="+h}ns_pixelUrl=n; But what happened? if (!tsi.match(/\d\d\d\d\d\d/)) {tsi = 0;} Mexico City was built on bad choices, given it sits on an unstable crust of clay and a swath of lava rock. If you pump water out faster than the rainwater can trickle back in, the aquifer runs out.

The gradual compression of the ground below gives many older buildings in Mexico City’s city center a characteristic lean. But not all of Mexico City was built on the lakebed.

var geo_edition = 'uk'; As the surrounding area has sunk, an extra 14 large steps have been added as the angel is increasingly left marooned above a vanishing city. geo_edition = 'int'; This church would eventually become Mexico City’s main cathedral. if (part && (part != prod_name) && (part != asset_id) && (part != 'default')) {

Strolling around the historic center of the city can feel like a … And other parts of the city sit on clay. for (var i=0; i

Over the last century, experts estimate, Mexico City has sunk around 10 meters. [^.\/]+$/, '');

function geo_edition(u) { In fact, while Mexico City residents endure months of regular flooding during the rainy season in some parts of the city, virtually none of that water makes it underground. // ]]>, Peter Greste reports from inside and underneath the sinking cathedral, WTO: arbitration in EU-Ecuador banana dispute, Colombian army chief says rebels defeated. Land subsidence has been caused by groundwater overexploitation during the last hundred years and has been up to 9 meters, resulting in damages to buildings, streets, sidewalks, sewers, stormwater drains and other infrastructure.

However, for political reasons, much, but not all, of the cathedral was built over the remains of pre-Hispanic structures, leading to uneven foundation from the beginning.

It is a spectacular monument to Catholicism in the heart of the world's biggest city, but like Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa, the building has been sinking since the day it was built almost 500 years ago. u = u.replace(/[#][^#]+$/, '' ); In 1521, after Cortés and his men conquered Tenochtitlán, much of Templo Mayor was deconstructed, and the volcanic rock was used to build a church, for which Cortés himself is said to have laid the first stone. if (asset_id) {countername.push(asset_id);} u = u.replace(/\/reviews\//, '/'); function sitestat(n){var j=document,f=j.location,b="";if(j.cookie.indexOf("st_ux=")!=-1){var k=j.cookie.split(";");var e="st_ux",h=document.domain,a="/"; (Notre Dame was constructed in a little over 180 years.)

The crisis is most obvious in the south wing - it has dipped almost a metre more than the rest of the structure. One flood was so severe that the entire city was submerged for five whole years from 1629 – yet the city lived on, gasping for air and expanding further across the lakebed between downpours. As the city drains water from the aquifers, empty space is left in its wake. As underground aquifers continue to deplete due to the swelling population’s use of water, the sinking …

var countername = countername(location.href), tld = prod_name(countername); As the bulging population depletes the underground aquifers, parts of the city are sinking even faster, damaging drainage systems and weakening building foundations. The Gilded Angel of Independence – a local tourist hotspot and national landmark – was built with nine shallow steps leading up from the street below. } He says: "Tolling the main bell is a great pride - it fills me with a great spirituality.

Soft lake sediment underneath the city has made it vulnerable to soil liquefaction during earthquakes.

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The gradual compression of the ground below gives many older buildings in Mexico City’s city center a characteristic lean. countername.push(part); By the time the Spaniards arrived there, the city had approximately 300,000 residents. In 1954, the overexploitation was sufficiently serious that pumping was banned in the city center and wells were moved to the north and south of the basin.

In 1948 it was proved that groundwater withdrawal was causing subsidence. The letter is dated 4th January, 1867. The Conquistadors chose to use it as the foundation for the Cathedral Sacrament, an audacious attempt to show just whose God was superior, and a breathtaking example of the clash between Aztec and European cultures.

As more and more water was withdrawn, subsidence began. All over the city (most iconically in the historic center) buildings and churches lean like drunken men, the land having made an uneven descent into the earth beneath their foundations.

It’s a chronic threat in Iztapalapa, a poor neighborhood in the city’s southeast, home to some 2 million people.

“It has been my misfortune to be attacked with small-pox while en route for India. var asset_id_re = /(\d+)\/?$/;

The city’s cathedral, which took more than 200 years to build, has a leaning chapel and bell tower, propped up by stone wedges to stop the whole thing crumbling down.

That’s because rapid urbanization has sealed up any permeable surfaces in the city with the pavement. u = u.replace(/\/[12]\//, '/'); This, unlike the volcanic soil, can’t absorb the water, merely sandwiching it between layers of clay-like cream between layers of pastry. var si = document.location+"";

For comparison, the famously sinking Italian city of Venice is sinking at a rate of less than half an inch per year. }

As it grew and grew, and poorer migrants from the surrounding country arrived in search of economic opportunity, Mexico City grew thirsty. '); [CDATA[ This story is from our Mexico City issue.

Workers began digging shafts under the cathedral in 1993 to try to straighten and level the building. *$/, "$1");} The sinking of Mexico City has come to a point where the Zócalo, the main square in the historic city center, is at a lower elevation than Lake Texcoco.

It was also handily water-absorbent: moisture would soak in and flow to underground aquifers easily, without damaging the structure of the soil. This circumstance will necessitate a twenty-one days’ quarantine at Malta, at the expiration of which time I shall continue my journey by the first ship I can get.” It’s a salary claim, signed by J. Broughton, Esq, chemist to the Indian Chinchona Plantation, and addressed to the Revenue Department at Fort Saint George, the first English fortress in the country, founded in 1644. As underground aquifers continue to deplete due to the swelling population’s use of water, the sinking has only worsened (although it has been somewhat stabilized by construction that began in the 1990s). u = u.replace(/[\?][^\? Built upon the ruins of the old temple, the Metropolitan Cathedral was commissioned in 1573 and took 240 years to complete.

sitestat("//sa.bbc.co.uk/bbc/bbc/s?name="+countername+"&ml_name=news-legacy-js&ml_version=20110330&app_type=web&app_name="+tld+"&prod_name="+tld); Sign up for our newsletter and enter to win a folio from our beautiful collection, all featuring powerful storytellers from around the globe. Archbishop Padre Luis Avila Blancas says: "It is hard to express the feeling that working here evokes, because it involves people's faith. The sinking of Mexico City has come to a point where the Zócalo, the main square in the historic city center, is at a lower elevation than Lake Texcoco. But if the problem is underground, so is the solution. And it makes me aware that I am part of the history of this Cathedral.

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The collapse in the central region of the city reached 10 meters at the end of the 20th century, while in the sub-basin Chalco-Xochimilco, it reached 7 meters. Sign up to start getting our weekly newsletter, Field Guide!

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