Mexico City has suffered from severe floods throughout its history. Today I learned that during Moctezuma Ilhuicamina’s reign, the immense prehispanic metropolis of Tenochtitlan suffered the most severe flood ever.
The emperor, trying to solve the problem seeked counsel from Nezahualcoyotl, a philosopher, warrior, architect, poet and ruler of the neighboring city-state of Texcoco; he was highly regarded for his wisdom in many areas, one of them architecture.
History says, that after gazing at the flooded valley from a nearby hill, he suggested that “the best solution is to make a wooded and stone wall stronger than the waters to stop them before arriving to the city”. Although it was a hard to achieve task, the advice was taken.
To build it, all nearby empires contributed to the huge project, thousands of men and resources were poured in order to finish it as soon as possible.
The wall, or dam very similar to the sea-walls in the Netherlands, was named in spanish as Nezahualcoyotl’s Albarradón.
The dam had a a length 9 miles (15 kilometers), several of them on water, and a width of 66 feet (18 meters). It comprised 2 parallel palisades with stones and sand in the middle. The vast lake where Tenochtitlan was sitting was divided in two; the east part had salty waters and kept the name of Texcoco Lake, and the west side had sweet water and surrounded the metropolis it was named the Mexico Lake. The finished wall served both as Dam and water dispenser for irrigation. Thanks to it, agriculture flourished, and it was because of it that Mexicas were able to create the artificial islands or chinampas to cultivate multiple crops floating in the lake.
With information from La Cronica Newspaper http://www.cronica.com.mx/notas/2002/12616.html
and from El ombligo de la luna site http://www.elombligodelaluna.com.mx/historia-inundaciones