The last few years have seen many changes in commerce, particularly as people around the world find new ways to communicate and collaborate. Despite all the progress made, Mexico City’s traditional commerce and culture are still strong. The Nahuatl word “tianquiz(tli),” for “market”, is derived from this tianguis. Since before European colonization and invasion, these open spaces have been in use. Bartering was the main means of commerce. Transactions were conducted in large public areas such as plazas or corridors. Copper and cacao products became currency to buy basic necessities.

© Alex González / Dronalexmx

Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History says that many of the tianguis in Mexico today can be traced back to the Prehistoric era of Mexican history. These include the Cuetzalan Market in Puebla, Tianguistengo, Otumba markets in Mexico State, Tenejapa, San Juan Chamula and Chilapa markets in Guerrero and the Zacualpan de Amilpas marketplace in Morelos.

Despite the fact that many Mexican commercial spaces, including the Central de Abasto in Mexico City and the San Juan Markets in Jamaica, Merced and San Juan, have adopted a stationary approach to serving communities, tianguis still have a foothold in Mexican society. They have also adapted to the current environment, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

© Alex González / Dronalexmx

It is essential to explore, understand, and analyze semi-permanent spaces in urban and anthropological terms. This is especially important when considering the significance of these spaces for families who travel from far away to sell their goods in capital cities. They are, in essence, the representation of a vibrant public space that is driven by commercial and cultural forces.

We invite you to take a look at the aerial photos of Alex Gonzalez, a Mexican photographer. Also, explore Jorge Gonzalez’ interactive map that shows the exact location and operating hours of Mexico City’s 329 Tiguis.