Urban-Military Planning in Colonial Mexico City

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596. [MAP]. CASTERA, Ignacio. “Plano topográfico de la imperial corte de México, capital de Nueva España, donde está demarcada la zanja quadrada, que para su resguardo se ha abierto nuevamente, con las cinco garitas, que deben quedar, suprimidas ocho las la trece que tenía por el Mstro. de Ciudad Dn José [sic] Castera Año de 1793.” [Mexico, 1793]. Manuscript plan on laid paper, showing all of Mexico City and some outlying areas, lettered key indicates guardhouses and new passages into the city, which are shown by letters on the map, some named streets, physical features, and divisions in different colors (sepia ink and watercolor: blue, yellow, green, and red); map size, border to border: 44 x 46 cm; statement and key at left: 44 x 18 cm; overall sheet size: 47 x 66.5 cm. Signed José Mariano Falcón at lower left, with August 28, 1812, statement in another hand indicating the purpose of the 1793 map. Except for minor marginal tears (not affecting map proper, and no losses), very fine, colors excellent. A beautiful, historic map documenting changes in Mexico City’s defenses.

     This 1793 map does not seem to be mentioned in standard map sources (Toussaint, Apenes, Lombardo de Ruiz, 500 Planos de la Ciudad de México, Carrera Stampa, etc); however, El Territorio Mexicano illustrates other examples of similar maps. Although enigmatic, this appears to be the 1793 map with nothing more added to it than the 1812 certification statement. As depicted here, Castera’s idea was to surround the central city with ditches that formed a perfect square and to close most of garitas. Falcón later worked with the military in 1815 to bring the plans shown here to complete fruition. Falcón clearly used this map as a starting point, and Castera’s original plan to leave only five garitas open was followed. Castera meant to improve security and deter the introduction of contraband into the city, a mission that was only partially successful.

     Architect Castera created several important maps for urban planning of Mexico City in the 1790s and was instrumental in the construction of several significant works, including for example, the fountain in the Plaza de Santo Domingo and the Templo de Loreto. He was a favorite of Viceroy Revillagigedo. See Guadalupe de la Torre, “El resguardo de la ciudad de México en en siglo XVIII,” Historias (October, 1991), pp. 69-77. Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers (revised edition), Vol. I, p. 243.


Sold. Hammer: $4,000.00; Price Realized: $4,900.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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