The city emission function (CEF), describing the angular emission from an entire city as a light source, is one of the key elements in night-sky radiance models. The CEF describes the rate at which skyglow depends on distance and is indispensable in any prediction of light-pollution propagation into nocturnal environments. Nevertheless, the CEF remains virtually unexplored because appropriate retrieval tools have been unavailable until very recently. A CEF has now been obtained from ground-based night-sky observations and establishes an experiment successfully conducted in the field to retrieve the angular emission function for an urban area. The field campaign was conducted near the city of Los Mochis, Mexico, which is well isolated from other cities and thus dominates all light emissions in its vicinity. The experiment has proven that radiometry of a night sky can provide information on the light output pattern of a distant city and allows for systematic, full-area, and cost-efficient CEF monitoring worldwide. A database of CEFs could initiate a completely new phase in light-pollution research, with significant economy and advanced accuracy of night-sky brightness predictions. The experiment and its interpretation represent unique progress in the field and contribute to our fundamental understanding of the mechanism by which direct and reflected uplight interact while forming the CEF.