Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pantitlan, revisited

here is a decent google earth image that gives you an idea of the site. Pantitlan is the monster of the Mexico City subway system. It is more like 4 subway stations and 12 bus stations crammed together with hardly a thought to design, or maybe just with a crew of architectural designers coming in, one after the other and never a master-plan.

Maybe part of what fascinates me with the place goes back to my longstanding fascination with abandoned places. Pantitlan feels abandoned even as 100s of thousands of commuters move through it every day.

It is so big that much of Pantitlan lies in a seemingly necessary neglect. There are places that should be welcoming commuters, pedestrians, travelers, and yet they stand empty, often with a layer of garbage, and just as often standing empty, seemingly smiling at no one.

And here again, monumental praise to collective action, "public fulfillment," ignored, trod upon by shoes in their millions hurrying just to get out. Triumphalism blares but no one is listening. The roar of traffic is too great to allow even this momentary victory. Against the the clamor of civilization the notion of idealism stands not a chance.

Pantitlan always has too many directions to look. She is bewildered by perspectives and pierced by thousands of cement hooks. When you try to find her angle, you will see that she is shifting, a highway in her belly is belching people. All of them are dressed to get out of here as soon as possible, and many of them will stay all day ignoring Pantitlan.

... and so what is one to do? Ignore harder? When I go to Pantitlan, I stare as if at a collossal carnival of concrete and necessity, a train-wreck in the valley of the ignored. It is people eeking out existence and those perfectly comfortable in an existence that denies itself. I think all of them have internalized a blindness toward Pantitlan. It is a resentment and a resignation but it is in the face of an enormity of potential, a chaos of possible outcomes buried in the mad design of a thousand bureaucrats.


  1. Pantitlán ought to be ignored, it represents the very things Mexicans try to ignore: poverty, pollution, demographic growth and lack of proper urban planning. Not to say we feel embarrassed about them, we just take them as a permanent component of our daily existence.
    The beauty of Pantitlán comes from it's quality of being the main corssing point between the core of Mexico City and its East margins: Iztapalapa, Nezahualcóyotl, Chalco and Iztapaluca. Areas that came to be from the mid 70's to the mid 80's, where people came from the country side, saw some dusty piece of land and begin building a room, another, and another.
    What you see are the 2nd and 3rd generations of those who randomly landed there.
    I wish I could see Pantitlán with your eyes...I can't

  2. Sir I am sorry, you will have to excuse my ignorance.. I tried to read everything in your blog but i am not exactly sure what the f.. Are you talking about, I am assuming is some type of abstract poetry or some thing related to art any way, although I did not understand the whole concept of your words or the exact message that you are trying to deliver, I really loved the words that you added to the pictures of the place where I grew up “the great metro Pantitlan” I never thought about that “giant” in a magical and philosophical way any way, what I really want to say is thank you for showing to the world my home.