Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
A photographer captures the routine madness of Mexico's largest subway system.
Known as one of the worst cities in the world in which to drive, Mexico City's rush hours aren't much better underground. The 10th biggest metro area in the world, its subway system generates around 4 million riders a day, or 1.5 billion a year, the second highest in North America (New York City is first).
Spanish photographer Héctor Mediavilla experienced the daily crush first hand, using the subway while living in Mexico's capital. For a photography project he's titled Megapolis, themed around rapid urbanization across the globe, Mediavilla saw the city's underground commute as a clear representation of an overcrowding world.
His photographs shed light on what he sees as a barely manageable aspect of urban life: the rush hour. "I wanted to show a part of the Megalopolis that struck me, that showed very clearly that something is not working well for us as human beings in relation with our environment," says Mediavilla.
Now back in Spain, Mediavilla and his photography collective, Pandora, are capturing similar images for Megapolis in São Paulo, Tokyo, Karachi, and Shanghai. Looking back at his time underground in Mexico City, Mediavilla sees an overcrowded city with few options beyond packed subway stations and trains to get to and from work. "They have no other choice but to be part of that amorphous mass," he says. "They have to go along with it."
Below, a glimpse of rush hour on Mexico City's subway as seen through Mediavilla's lens: