About the Project

“Mexican Hinterlands” is a term that describes Northern Mexico from the point of view of Mexico City. It is also a term that reframes the American Southwest as a Mexican hinterland, whose geographic base is defined by Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora and Baja California but whose spatial and architectural tendrils extend to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and beyond.

Mexican Hinterlands is an ongoing research and documentation project that cuts “la linea” on the east-west U.S.-Mexico boundary north-south by investigating how the railroad routes that connected Mexico City with Nogales, Arizona, El Paso, Texas, and Laredo, Texas starting in 1882 and completed by 1910 shaped the built environment of cities, agricultural lands, and rangelands.

While the focus is on these three discrete railroad corridors and how the transportation of materials, architectural expertise, labor, and ideas about architecture and urban form have shaped the development of places, a phenomenon Paula Lupkin calls “architectural regionalism,” our exploration includes ordinary built environments that are also indirectly shaped by late nineteenth century industrialization.

In sum, it is through the documentation of railroad stations, railways, railroad towns, roads, highways, old agricultural fields, industrial sites, factories, company towns, quarries, reservoirs, Mexican revolutionary staging grounds, prisons, markets, bullrings, horse tracks, casinos, and churches that the built environment history—and the social history—of Mexican Hinterlands come into view.