In a previous post –Nezahualcoyotl, an irregular settlement which grew into a monster – we looked at the extraordinarily rapid growth of Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl (today a city of over 1.5 million inhabitants) from its start on the dried-up lake bed east of Mexico City in the 1950s.
The Economist special report on Latin America (11 September 2010) included an evocative description of Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, well worth reading. It describes how “an impoverished settlement of dirt streets and one-storey shacks built of grey concrete blocks” [ed: see photo] has become “comfortable homes of two or three storeys” with asphalted streets and “traffic-clogged thoroughfares… lined with businesses of every type”. Next to a Wal-Mart and private hospital is a shopping center with Sears and C&A, boutiques and a multiplex cinema.
The inhabitants aspirations have changed from bicycles to private cars, and include hopes of a higher education and finding a well-paid position elsewhere. The article concludes that the rise in living standards of many of the people is (arguably) creating a “middle class” society, before examining the concept of “middle class” in much more depth.