1671 Aqueduct of Santa Fe in Nova Mexico


Good luck trying to figure out when Tenochtitlan became Mexico City, for it was allegedly founded as Mexico Tenochtitlan in 1324. Some things are just too funny:
  • The date 13 March 1325, was chosen in 1925 to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the city.
  • LOL. On what date did they celebrate 500, 400, etc?
Anyways, below is a detailed view of Mexico City from the 1671 edition of John Ogilby's America. It is one of the most influential works of the 17th Century. Here are image sources:

New Mexico
Ok, before I get to the aqueduct I wanted to rant about this Nova Mexico BS, which I'm pretty sure was somehow explained by the narrative. It was probably done in a manner similar to this New Granada one. Why do they call it New Mexico? Where was old Mexico, if this one was a new one? Where is logic? We have:
  • New York ≠ York
    • New Amsterdam (NYC) ≠ Amsterdam
  • New Holland (Australia) ≠ Holland
  • New Zealand ≠ Zealand
In all of the above cases New X ≠ X, but with Mexico it's an exception.
  • New Mexico = Mexico
    • I'm obviously talking about the above image, and not the US State.
If you have an explanation for this inconsistency, please share what you know. Thank you.

The Aqueduct


I'm trying to figure out when this aqueduct was built. As you can see in 1671, or probably a bit prior to the pub, this aqueduct was called something like Aqueduct of Santa Fe. This is where it gets confusing. According to the English Wiki article, there were only 3 versions of the aqueduct.

#1 Chapultepec Aqueduct
The water level under Tenochtitlan was only 4–5 feet below the city, however, it was not a viable source of freshwater as the water retrieved was brackish. Shallow wells were constructed, and the water retrieved was used for household work. Construction of an aqueduct that brought fresh water, suitable for cooking and drinking, from Chapultepec springs to Tenochtitlan began in 1418. Building relied on mud and plant material to create the foundation, which rested on artificial islands that were spread 3 to 4 meters apart. Mounds consisting of mud were constructed on these islands and driven through with a wooden stake for support. The top of each mound had a hollowed out trough lined with compacted clay, and hollowed out logs were placed in the bottom of the flow path to bridge gaps between the islands. A wooden plank walkway flanked the aqueduct, making it easily accessible and a method of transportation from the city to the outlying areas. Once the water reached the city, it was delivered to small reservoirs and select households through a network of canals that extended in the four cardinal directions and branched off to individual streets.
  • Despite its relative longevity, the composition of the aqueduct could not withstand the forces of nature. Erosion weathered away the compacted clay, and in 1449, heavy rains triggered a flood that destroyed the aqueduct and effectively shut down Tenochtitlan for weeks.
#2 Chapultepec Aqueduct
After the destruction of the original aqueduct, the king of Texcoco, Nezahualcoyotl, ordered the construction of another water system using sturdier materials following the same route as the original. This aqueduct consisted of two mortar lined troughs made of stone masonry. The addition of the second trough allowed for water to be diverted to the second pipe when maintenance had to be performed on the other. This allowed for a continuous supply of fresh water to be delivered to the city.
  • Like the original aqueduct, the second rested on a chain of artificial islands.
  • The pipes were secured to the islands by wood pilings attached to a foundation of sand, lime, and rock.
  • The aqueduct was constructed using wood, carved stone, and compacted soil, with portions made of hollowed logs, allowing canoes to travel underneath.
#3 Colonial Aqueduct
After his arrival in the Aztec empire, Hernan Cortes discovered the economic and political importance of the Chapultepec aqueduct. He took advantage of the city's dependence on the aqueduct and blocked the fresh water supply, eventually destroying it. Shortly after the Spanish conquest, he set about dividing the land among the conquistadors. He wanted to take the forest of Chapultepec for himself, but Charles V, King of Spain, denied his request and decreed that the springs were needed to provide the people with potable water and were thereby the property of the city of Tenochtitlan.
  • Construction of a new aqueduct started under the reigning Viceroy Fernando de Alencastre, 1st Duke of Linares (1711-1716).
  • The structure became known under another name as the Aqueduct of Belen, named after an old Belen convent it passed by.
  • Built along the same path as the Aztec engineered aqueducts, it was constructed using Roman architecture, reflected in its 904 arches.
  • In completion, it reached a total length of 4663 varas, roughly 4 kilometers. In conquest times, the aqueduct supplied the city with the majority of its freshwater, however, waterborne illness was a concern.
  • In an effort to reduce the possibility of external contamination, iron and lead pipes were installed to replace the open troughs during the 19th Century.
  • These shielded the water from air and outside contaminants but did not decrease the number of pathogen related illnesses and death.
  • Located on Chapultepec Avenue near Metro Sevilla, a small section, about twenty-two arches long, still survives today.
  • Also standing today are two fountains associated with the aqueduct.
So, which one do we have in the above 1671 image. According to the above info, it would have to be #2, because they did not start building #3 until at least 1711.

Aqueduct of Santa Fe
But then we get to the Spanish language (google translated) Wiki article: Aqueduct of Santa Fe (Mexico City). After a lot of interesting blah-blah-blah we get to this:
  • On December 4, 1571, after discussing the project, work began, under the command of the alarife and carpenter Miguel Martínez.
  • This first work had such problems, that the alarming Miguel Martínez was dismissed from his position.
    • Processed for mismanagement, he had to pay a large fine and return the sums of money that had been given to him for the work.
    • As part of his sentence he was banished to Zacatecas where he died at the hands of indigenous Chichimecas .
  • In 1607 work restarted under the command of the governor Maldonado del Corral, who demolished the old indigenous aqueduct and the one done by Miguel Martínez.
  • With the rubble of these he made an aqueduct that was formed by a stone base and pillars of the same material, on which canoes or square ducts made with wooden planks and joined by nails were assembled through which the water ran.
And then it goes like this:
  • This aqueduct had to go into operation but in 1617 a contest was made to replace it with a completely masonry aqueduct, the work was apparently granted to Pérez de Castañeda and Gordivar who made parts of the works, but the lack of materials such as brick, made it necessary to increase the costs of the work.
  • By that time the water service had been transferred to a private party by the Viceroy Marquess of Salinas , so the city had no control over the work, but after a decade the work had a medium range and the viceroy ordered delivery to the city of the work, which was carried out by Baltasar de los Ríos who finished it on an undetermined date, although the amount of the debt acquired by the City of Mexico with Del Río, of 130,000.00 pesos of gold was not paid until 1853.
Note: In 1611 Marquess of Salinas departed New Spain to take up this position in the mother country. He served as president of the Council from December 1, 1610 until retiring old and infirm on August 7, 1617. He died one month later in Seville.
  • How exactly did Marquess of Salinas oversee the works in 1617. He left Mexico in 1611, and died in 1617.
The Plaque
We also have this plaque mounted on the aqueduct itself. It translates to "Remains of the aqueduct begun in 1620 finished in 1790 containing 904 arches."


Year 1466
And this here "Acueducto de Chapultepec, construido por Nezahualcóyotl en 1466, en Códice Panes y Abellán, vol. IV. lám 148" translates to "Aqueduct of Chapultepec, built by Nezahualcóyotl in 1466, in Codex Panes y Abellán, vol. IV. sheet 148."
  • With a narrative compliant addition:​
    • Esta es una representación colonial de la construcción del acueducto de Chapultepec. Una de las obras hidráulicas del México antiguo más conocidas, cuya obra fue dirigida por el emperador Nezahualcóyotl.
    • This is a colonial representation of the construction of the Chapultepec aqueduct. One of the best known hydraulic works in ancient Mexico, whose work was directed by Emperor Nezahualcóyotl.

19th Century
And this is what this aqueduct looked like some time in the 19th century. One too many places describe it as this "The Chapultepec aqueduct built by the Aztecs during the Tenochtitlan era, located in Mexico City near Metro Sevilla."



KD: What do you think? When was the depicted 1671 aqueduct built, and who built it?

Similar articles