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The city has been the metropolis of Mexico since before New Spain was created. It is built on the ruins of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán, which was begun by the Aztecs c.1345 and razed by Hernán Cortes in 1521. During the colonial period Mexico City served as the capital of the viceroyalty of New Spain and was for a time the cultural and social center of North and South America. It was taken in 1847 by Winfield Scott's American army, after an inland march from Veracruz in the Mexican War. The French army captured Mexico City in 1863, and Emperor Maximilian, crowned in 1864, did much to beautify it before it was recaptured by Mexicans under Benito Juárez. In the years of revolution after 1910 it was a magnet for divergent insurrectionary forces. Perhaps the most spectacular incidents were the occupations (1914–15) by Francisco Villa and Emiliano Zapata. The summer Olympic games were held in Mexico City in 1968.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: Mexican Political Geography

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