Jan 8, 2014

Border cities: The Tug of War.

Cities that lay on the border between Mexico and the United States are home to a phenomenon that people who haven't lived in such a place as a frontier are probably unaware of.
Even the inhabitants of these particular places may not realize how the border can become this strange dimension, that's both Mexican and American, but none at the same time.

Since both countries have distinct cultural traits; different backgrounds, different languages, different socio-economic levels, hell, even a different coin; there is an inherent need for some sort of order or protocol to emerge from these geographical knots that are the "frontier cities".

When two border cities interact what results is really the merge of two countries, whether these two countries speak to one another from an urban perspective is crucial, not only for the population of both cities, but for the entire exchange of both nations.
Be it cultural or economical this exchange sis or at least is should be the whole point of the frontier cities.

Because of it is privileged location, bordering cities are naturally a place of investment, which means a lot of jobs available for the ever changing and migrant population on both sides of the border. Communication of what is happening with imported or exported goods are monitored by representatives of enterprises that also come from different backgrounds from the US and Mexico.
It should be noted as well that many citizens form a specific city often travel back en forth the two nations, going after the best deals, events or company (from family and friends) that their own city isn't providing at a particular instance.
Calling all kinds of different people to concentrate in both sides of the border, generates cultural niches within the cities. Migrants carry with them their own traditions and impact the way each city grows and looks.

Adding in the fact that the inhabitants of the neighboring city also imprint and affect the city on the other side of the frontier.
The look, function and identity of both cities then becomes the result of  a constant "Tug-of-war" game, where the players of the game are the previously mentioned factors (economics, population, culture) pulling and twisting the rope, creating a 'border culture' that is very much its own thing, very much a product of what has been acted upon it.

The question does arise; what if frontier cities such as Tijuana-San Diego , Juarez-El Paso,
Nuevo Laredo-Laredo, where to act as one?
what if the bridge doesn't necessarily needs to be just the physical arch that connects the cities and contains a customs office?
Can the totality of a city serve as a 'bridge' to another country?
Should the Urban pattern of frontier cities be designed as with the other side of the border in mind?

Until next time, keep your mugs up.


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