'MISCELÁNEA: Guia del comercio popular y traditional del Centro Histórico de la Ciudad de Mexico' by Marie-Aimée Montalembert and Ángeles Reunes.
A true labor of love, this 768-page tome puts the Centro under a microscope and studies every little nook and cranny. The focus, as the title suggests, is popular (in its Mexican sense 'of the people') and traditional businesses, many of which have been around for ages and have been run by the same family.
Are you looking to concoct your own perfume? Bronze-plate your baby's shoes? Repair your juke box? Dress yourself in a complete mariachi outfit? Find a good Goth bar? Buy a life-size statue of Saint Eulalia, or learn where to find a prostitute? It's all here, and lots more. The amount of research put into this 11-year project is simply astounding. And there are lots of personal anecdotes and bits of history that make this book much more interesting than the yellow pages.
The graphic design is impressive, with information divided by street and neighborhood. Excellent maps are provided. There are hundreds of great color photographs that may change the way you look at the Centro. Images are beautifully framed, giving and order and logic to what can often feel like visual chaos when you're in the midst of it--I had no idea that all that plastic junk from China could be so beautiful! Even if you don't read Spanish, the photos alone take you on a remarkable and intimate tour of the Centro.
The book is available at all major bookstores in Mexico City (Ghandi, Porrua, etc.)--be sure to ask if you don't see it.
In San Miguel de Allende, you can buy the book at Abrazos, Zacateros 24