Quotidian Catastrophes in the Modern City: Fire Hazards and Risk in Mexico's Capital, 1860-1910
AuthorAlexander, Anna Rose
AdvisorBeezley, William H.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractDuring the last half of the nineteenth century, Mexico City residents started to experience an increase in the frequency and intensity of fires. Residents cited the presence of fossil fuels, the introduction of large factories and electrical apparatuses, and the growing population density as the primary reasons that urban fires became more prevalent. Fire hazards acted as catalysts for social change in Mexico's capital. They created a ripple effect across society, altering everything from city planning to medical advancements to business endeavors, shaping the ways that people experienced a period of significant urban growth. Fire forced people to adjust the ways that they lived their lives, the ways that they conducted business, and the ways that they thought about their city. Rather than looking at one great fire, this study contributes to a growing branch of disaster studies that examines the effects of much smaller, but far more frequent hazards. By drawing on the experiences of residents from different social groups (business owners, firemen, engineers, city officials, entrepreneurs, insurance agents, and physicians), this study shows how residents reacted differently to fire and how they feared and coped with the nearly constant presence of risk. Prevailing historiography of this time period in Mexico is often characterized by studies of the top-down projects of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, but this project shows how social actors collectively transformed their city in response to an environmental threat.
Degree ProgramGraduate College