(Note: Updated information on MB Line 4 & Line 7 changes added)
This week, Zócalo station on Metro Line 2 officially changed name to Zócalo / Tenochtitlán, to honour Mexico’s history, according to the city’s mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum. Next year will be the 500th anniversary of the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish; Mexico City was built on the remains of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán.
There have been several other name changes in the past:
- In 1995, La Purísima became UAM-I
- In 1996, Basílica became Deportivo 18 de Marzo
- Also in 1996, La Villa became La Villa / Basílica
- In 1997, Aeropuerto became Boulevard Puerto Aéreo
- In 2002, Continentes became Nezahualcóyotl
- In 2008, Tecnológico became Ecatepec
- In 2009, Etiopía became Etiopía / Plaza de la Transparencia (on both Metro Line 3 and Metrobús Line 2)
- Also in 2009, Viveros became Viveros / Derechos Humanos
- Again in 2009, Garibaldi became Garibaldi / Lagunilla
- And again in 2009, Metrobús station Tezontle became CCH Oriente
- In 2012, Ferrería became Ferrería / Arena Ciudad de México
- In 2016, Azcapotzalco became UAM-Azcapotzalco
- In 2019, Niños Héroes became Niños Héroes / Poder Judicial de la CDMX
- Also in 2019 , several Metrobús Line 4 stations changed names, details below.
- And now in 2020, as mentioned above, Zócalo has become Zócalo / Tenochtitlán
- Lastly, in the Tren Ligero, the station Periférico changed to Periférico / Participación Ciudadana, but I do not know when exactly (my guess is in the last couple of years)
I have very mixed feelings about all of these name changes. On the one hand, some of them make sense to me; others, however, are ugly or downright confusing. Let’s go through them together, and I’ll share my thoughts on each.
La Purísima to UAM-I : I’m on the fence with this one. I’m glad that there’s one less religious reference, and I suppose it’s useful to know where the campus of this large university is in Mexico City. At the same time, the university is a good 15 minute walk from the metro (compare that to Guy-Concordia or Berri-UQAM in Montreal, where the universities are directly connected to their respective metro stations). Also, the neighbourhood around it is called La Purísima, which is where the original name came from. So overall, this is an acceptable name change, but barely.
Basílica to Deportivo 18 de Marzo and La Villa to La Villa – Basílica: I am grouping these together as the changes were done at the same time. Deportivo 18 de Marzo is actually located nearly a kilometre away from the station, whereas from La Villa – Basílica it is less than half of that. Lastly, the eponymous sports center is right where the metro is located. The goal for this name change was to reduce confusion so that pilgrims visiting the Basílica de Guadalupe wouldn’t need to walk as far. I fully approve this name change, and it gave us the cool logo for the Deportivo station as well!
Aeropuerto to Boulevard Puerto Aéreo: Another one that I completely approve of. This station is actually quite far from the airport terminal, a good half-hour by foot! I can only imagine the number of confused tourists getting off at this station (with an airplane symbol no less!) thinking that they’d be right at the airport. I can understand the logic of naming it Aeropuerto when Line 1 was originally built, as it was the closest station to the airport at the time, but with the opening of Line 5 and the station Terminal Aérea, it really made no sense to keep that confusing name and icon. I only wish that they’d come up with a better icon for the new name; the current one representing the traffic bridge isn’t very attractive.
Continentes to Nezahualcóyotl: From a boring global map icon to a neat Aztec symbol, I approve this change. The new name is the name of the municipality in the State of Mexico where the station is located. Clear and relevant. They should have gone with it in the first place!
Tecnológico to Ecatepec: The name originally referred to a nearby University, but similar to the change for Nezahuacóyotl, the new name reflects the municipality instead. I’m a bit less in favour of this one as it can be useful to know where a university is located, but the main entrance is located more than 700 metres from the station, so not exactly right next door. Still, overall, there’s not much to object to with this change.
Etiopía to Etiopía / Plaza de la Transparencia. Now here’s where I get angry. This change was made to identify a nearby governmental institute, the “Mexico City Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection” (Instituto de Transparencia, Acceso a la Información Pública, Protección de Datos Personales y Rendición de Cuentas de la Ciudad de México). This change was made for purely political reasons, in my opinion; the goal was self-congratulatory, “look, we have this institute which is here to protect you, we’re doing great work, aren’t we?”. This change angers me on many levels. First, on a purely personal level, this is the station that I lived near to when I first went to Mexico City. They took a nice name, commemorating a relationship with the African country, and turned it into this horrible amalgam of a name. Next, from a design point of view, they ruined the beautiful lion’s head by adding that ugly “open door which is also a person” logo from the institute. It’s so ugly! And what will they do when the institute changes location, or some future government decides to change the institute’s name, or its raison d’être? This change angers me on the same level as the Square-Victoria—OACI change in Montreal; they added the OACI acronym just to bribe the organization to stay in Montreal, when they weren’t really going to leave anyway. Argh! And to top it all off, this change paved the way for future changes, as we’ll see below.
Viveros to Viveros / Derechos Humanos: This is for similar reasons as Etiopía. This station is located near the offices of the Commission for Human Rights for Mexico City. Pure politics again, “look, we respect human rights, we have an office dedicated to it!”. There was no reason to make this change. At least the icon wasn’t totally destroyed, the little dove/hand icon at the base of the plants blends in relatively well and is well-designed. I’m still strongly against this change, but a tiny bit less so than the change to Etiopía, because the icon change is slightly less offensive. Still though, I hope one day it gets rolled back.
Periférico: Same as the previous two; “Look, we have an electoral institute for the city, we’re amazing!”. Politics, optics. Stupid change, roll this back too. I can’t find a large enough version of the new logo for it, and I don’t care enough to find it, either!
Garibaldi to Garibaldi / Lagunilla. This one is just plain stupid. Stupid! Why? Because the very next station is called Lagunilla too!! Why would you give the same name to two consecutive stations?!? It just doesn’t make sense to me. The reasoning was that Garibaldi station is close to the huge Lagunilla market… but since we already have Lagunilla station, why would you add the same name to both stations? I guess so that some people who have the market as their destination might decide “Oh, I’ll get off here instead since I’m here now”, thereby reducing the number of people getting off at Lagunilla? That’s a very weak argument. Alternatively, I’ve read some justifications that it was in support of the market in its efforts to survive faced with competition from more modern shopping centres. Still pretty weak. Roll this change back!
Tezontle to CCH Oriente: Although I am unable to find any online references, I presume that this name change was to indicate the location of the campus for the College of the Humanities (part of the UNAM university), which is located right beside it. The current icon is the school’s logo, which I find rather ugly; the previous icon was kind of interesting, but barely. I accept this change for navigation purposes, even with the ugly icon. They should have named it that in the first place.
Ferreria: Ugh, this one is horrible. Not only do they add “Arena Ciudad de México” to the name (which is ugly and makes the name too long), but they changed the icon from the very distinctive cow (so cute!) to an ugly boxy building. Changing the icon was a horrible decision, and I refuse to use the new icon on my site and maps. The worst thing is that the indoor arena for which the station is named is a privately-owned building! So basically they renamed the station to cater to a private enterprise. Horrible! Change this one back, pronto!
Azcapotzalco: Adding UAM to the front of the name just makes it ugly (note: the nearby Metrobús station uses the UAM prefix as well, but I accept that as this was the original name for the station, as far as I’m aware, and it’s located right next door), and the university itself is a good 20 minutes away on foot from the metro. Unnecessary change, but at least they didn’t touch the cute ant icon. Change this one back, please!
Metrobús Line 4 & Line 7 changes:
As I mention in my tweet, I had seen somewhere that these had changed, but the ones for Line 4 aren’t changed on the official map, even the most recent version which came out just a day or two ago. Here are the ones that changed:
- Plaza San Juan became Mercado San Juan (MB4)
- Circunvalación became Mercado Ampudia (MB4)
- Teatro del Pueblo became Mercado Abelardo L. Rodríguez (MB4)
- Garibaldi became Garibaldi Mercado Lagunilla (MB7)
The common factor is that they all mention a local market in their names. I have not found any source for why they changed names, but presumably it’s to let people know that those markets are there. These changes aren’t very offensive, and the new icons also are not that bad, but just as for Garibaldi metro, I refuse to use the “Garibaldi Mercado Lagunilla” name, and we’ll see if I can find a high-resolution copy of the icon. In any case, the official Metrobús site lists the new names for the stations on Line 4 but not Line 7, so I guess they don’t care enough to use “Garibaldi Mercado Lagunilla” either!
Niños Héroes: Ugh, another politically-motivated change. “Look, the Ciudad de México has its own court, aren’t we great?”. Ugly name change, ugly addition to the icon, totally unnecessary, erase this change from history!
Zócalo / Tenochtitlán: Look, I get it. Pride in Mexico’s pre-conquest past is important, and the cultural significance and importance of the Aztecs in Mexican culture is impossible to ignore. This is a change that I grudgingly slightly approve (though maybe using Templo Mayor would have been even better, since that famous temple is located right off the Zócalo), and at least they haven’t touched the icon. Still, this one would be more palatable if there hadn’t been that rash of other politically-motivated changes over the years. Keep it, but I would have been happier if this one has been stopped in committee before it became a reality, and I won’t use the new name on my site.
Aside from these, Ive also heard rumours of a couple others:
- Periférico Oriente might become Periférico Oriente – Canal de Garay. This is a useless change. Everyone knows the highway as the Periférico; nobody cares that the section near the metro station also has the name Canal de Garay attached to it. This is a waste of time and energy and money to make this change. Don’t do it!
- Insurgentes Sur to Felix Cuevas. Ok, so Metrobús Felix Cuevas is nearby, so I guess they want to make it clear that people can transfer between each mode here by having the same name for the stations, just like elsewhere on the Metrobús where they gave the same name to the stations as the closest metro station. And since the Metrobús station was opened first, they want to change the name to match it, since people are maybe more used to that? And there’s also Insurgentes station on a completely different line, Line 1, which probably leads to some confusion. So, this change, if it happens, would possibly lad to less confusion and more clarity to riders overall, which isn’t a bad thing. Still, this would still involve costs to make the changes, and in the era of COVID, I would have thought that avoiding unnecessary costs would be of greater importance! Also, even though the icon for this station is a bit boring (they just put the Hidalgo and Morelos icons together in one), it’s still kind of neat, because it reminds us that “Oh, right, Insurgentes were actually people, it’s not just a word or the name of the longest street in Mexico City”; it’s a tiny history lesson in just the station’s name and icon. I’d be sad to lose that, and the Felix Cuevas icon isn’t great, so I’m unsure if I’m ok with this possible change or not. Overall I lean to not making changes unless really necessary, so that would apply in this case.
As you can see, sometimes name changes make sense or are even necessary, but I strongly deplore any changes that are done for purely political or business reasons, especially when they make the station names incredibly long, an when they change the icons to make them ugly. Even though I don’t expect it to change any time soon (it’s been more than 10 years since Etiopía was changed), I do hope that one day, someone will realize how ugly it is, and have them changed back to what they were. As for my site, I refuse to recognize most of the changed names or icons, especially the ones I despise.