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Interpreting the Evidence

San Juan Market, Mexico City, Mexico, 1922

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Global History and Geography

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:


  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load San Juan Market, Mexico City, Mexico, 1922 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
A chili market, part of the San Juan market in Mexico City, Mexico, 1922.
Historical Context
Mexico City is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Americas.  In the 1300s, the Aztecs founded the city, which they called Tenochtitlan, on an island in Lake Texcoco.  In 1521, the Spanish captured the city, destroying much of it.  About 100,000 of the native population died in battle or from diseases carried by the Spaniards.  However, by the early 1600s, the city’s population had grown enough that Spanish began to drain the lake in order to expand.  Today, Mexico City is one of the world’s largest cities with more than 18 million people living in the metropolitan area.  

The chili stand in the photograph shows one of Mexico's major agricultural crops.  About 1/4 of Mexico’s workers are employed in agriculture.  Coffee and sugar are valuable export crops.  Other important crops include corn, wheat, beans, cotton, vanilla, and fruits and vegetables such as oranges, tomatoes, bananas, lemons, limes, mangoes, avacados, watermelon, papaya, and pineapple.

Essential Question
How does geography influence culture and economy?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain the role of geography in the development of Mexican culture and economy.
Historical Challenges
Create a pamphlet of foods that are indigenous to Mexico. Consider including facts such as where they are grown, when they were first cultivated, and how they are prepared to eat.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: About 25% of Mexican workers are involved in agriculture, 30% are employed in service jobs, and 12% work in manufacturing. Use this data to create a pie chart showing how the Mexican workforce is divided into different kinds of jobs.
Math: Look at the prices of chili peppers in the grocery store. Are they sold by weight or by how many you buy? Do you think you get a better deal if you buy vegetables by weight or by number? Explain your answer.
Science/English Language Arts: Research chili peppers. Make a poster about chili peppers. Consider including facts such as where they were first grown, when people started to eat them, the best climate and soil for growing them, the qualities that make a good chili pepper, and what makes them hot.