Tlatelolco is best known for the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, and for the massive Nonoalco-Tlatelolco Urban Housing Complex. It's been home to thousands of people for more than a thousand years. And it's one of the original sister cities of ancient Mexico-Tenochtitlán.
The site-descriptions at the bottom of this page are intended to let you see more of Tlatelolco and to get more out of all that there is.
The Nahuatl meaning designated an area on the north of the island. Dissident Taltelolca people ran what was, even then, the liveliest market in the now twin cities. The archaeological history of the area goes back somewhat earlier than the 15th and 16th centuries.
But the Nonoalco-Tlatelolco housing project built in the 1960s and, served by Metro Tlatelolco, was the foremost showcase of housing of that decade. It replaced the massive central Mexico City rail yard, and it's one of the most famous housing developments in the world. Even today.
The 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco established a nuclear weapon-free zone throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. It's been signed and ratified by all of the countries of the region. Though it remains little known, it's been an important part of the identity of Tlatelolco inhabitants ever since.
The massacre just one year later marked the beginning of the end of the idealism that the master-planned housing complex had once symbolized.
Political unrest in Mexico, (and in many Western nations at the time), reached a head as the Summer Olympics were set to begin in October. Students who'd already been protesting for months marched to the Plaza de las Tres Culturas. On October 2, 1968, hundreds were gunned down by military and police. The exact number will never be known, but an estimated 15,000 bullets were fired and at least 300 dead and 700 injured have been confirmed. 5,000 protesters were arrested.
Mexico City has never been the same and the event is still commemorated every October 2.
On September 19, 1985, the Nuevo León building collapsed as a result of a strong earthquake. Again, exact numbers of the dead are not known.
As a result of subsequent quakes and aftershocks, 13 buildings in the overall complex were demolished. The community has never recovered to anything like what it had been in the late 1960s and 70s.
Still, Tlatelolco remains a strong symbol of solidarity. It's a fascinating trip into the many pasts - modernist, ancient, and colonial - that have given the city its current face and outlook on the world.