What Are Those Strange Sidewalk Markers In Mexico City?

Punto de reunión in Santa Cruz Atoyac, Mexico City
Punto de reunión in Santa Cruz Atoyac, Mexico City | Courtesy of author

Northern England Writer

Wander around Mexico City and you’ll stumble across them in seconds, painted haphazardly across pavements and other pedestrianized areas. Green circles (sometimes squares, sometimes rectangles) of varying sizes with white arrows pointing at a central dot can be seen across Mexico City and the surrounding areas, but why? For Mexico City natives or long-term residents, these inconspicuous and abundant so-called ‘sidewalk markers’ merely blend into the city’s scenery, but visitors are sometimes baffled as to their purpose. Here’s a quick guide to these unusual painted pieces and how they could save your life the next time you’re in Mexico City.
Mexico City is situated on one of the world’s most unstable foundations — the sinking Aztec stronghold of Tenochtitlán — so it’s no surprise that it’s a hotspot for earthquakes. Its reputation as an earthquake zone (Mexico has had over 1000 earthquakes in the past year alone) led to the introduction of a set of safety regulations that included these painted street-side markers in 2002, according to Fabricio Castrejón. Also known as puntos de reunión, they serve to protect and promote safety during times of natural disaster and fires by serving as a predesignated spot where residents of neighboring buildings can gather. However, the positioning and inclusion of these mandated meeting points is down to building owners, not the government.

Punto De Reunion

These markers are supposed to be far enough removed from the building in question to give space for the residents and visitors to gather around and be safe at the same time, away from falling debris. In reality, the often cramped nature of Mexico City’s streetscapes does not allow for such luxuries, and these puntos de reunión can sometimes be found within mere meters of high office block walls. Even if they were located further away, it’s still difficult to predict whether the often wildly overloaded electricity cables will fall. Despite this, their importance is nevertheless firmly fixed in the collective memory of this sprawling city due to the horrific destruction caused by the infamous 1985 earthquake. In remembrance, earthquake drills are carried out each year on September 19th and residents gather around these green-and-white puntos de reunión.

Punto de reunión in Santa Cruz Atoyac, Mexico City

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article