Riverbank | Barranca

December 8, 2011

These are captions for Riverbank | Barranca. The photos in the series are ordered geographically, from north to south, beginning at the northern city limits of Buenos Aires [Capital Federal] and ending in Parque Lezama in the southern part of the city.

Avenida General Paz

Police randomly stop cars as they cross the city limits. The city and suburbs of Buenos Aires are two different administrative entities, with different police forces. Unlike cities in North America, South American cities tend to have poverty and crime concentrated on the periphery of the city. The checkpoints are a mostly theatrical effort to calm the the city’s wealthier residents.

Monobloc on Calle Grecia

A large apartment complex built in the 1970s. Such buildings are often referred to as ‘monoblocs.’

Botanical Garden

French-born landscape designer Carlos Thays designed Buenos Aires’ botanical gardens as well as many other parks during the boom years of the late 19th century. Today the garden is home to a large feral cat population.

National Library

Argentina’s national library is constructed on the grounds of a former 19th century mansion that was used as the residence of Juan Perón while he was president and which was then demolished following his ouster by the military in 1955. Designed in 1961 in a brutalist style by one of the country’s most prominent architects, the library wasn’t completed until 1992, due to construction delays exacerbated by changes in government and economic crisis.

Red Balloons

Production assistants attach red balloons to a tree for the filming of a commercial.

Student's Day

September 21st, the first day of spring in the southern hemisphere, is Student’s Day. Adolescents from across the metropolitan region flock to the city’s parks.

Arts & Crafts fair in Recoleta

On weekends the walkways of Plaza Francia in Recoleta are taken over by arts & crafts vendors. While a long standing tradition, the size of the fair increased greatly following the economic crisis of 2001. Many of the vendors use the sales to supplement income from their day jobs.

Trapito

Organized syndicates monetize public parking spaces in busy areas by setting up protection rackets. The lowest members of these syndicates work the street, charging drivers a fee for looking after their cars. Such men are know as “trapitos” or “little rags” for the rags they wave in their hands to attract the attention of drivers to an open spot.

Shell station below Autopista Arturo Illia

Argentina hosted the World Cup in 1978. It was accompanied by a massive public works effort by the then-military government that saw the construction of elevated highways across the city. Such works were often funded with loans from the World Bank as well as New York financial institutions flush with petro-dollars.

Plaza San Martin

Plaza San Martin is one of several parks that uses the topography of the riverbank to create a grassy knoll. The gentle slope makes a lovely spot for an afternoon nap between shifts.

War Monument

Plaza San Martin is also the site of a monument honoring Argentine soldiers killed in the 1982 conflict over the Falkland [Malvinas] Islands. The war killed about 650 Argentine soldiers and about 250 British. Argentina was unsuccessful in asserting its territorial claim over the islands.

The Kavanagh Building

Edificio Kavanagh, seen in a fragment on the right, is the finest art deco skyscraper in Buenos Aires and, perhaps, the world.

IBM Tower

Sitting at the foot of Marcelo T. de Alvear and Leandro Alem, the IBM Tower houses the local operations of said company. IBM was embroiled in a bribery scandal involving government contracts in the 1990s during the presidency of Carlos Menem.

Edificio Alas

Dating from the 1950s, the Alas building, seen in the background, contains an anti-nuclear bunker built to the specifications of the then president, Juan Domingo Perón.

Jousten Hotel, Avenida Corrientes

Though less important than soy bean exports, tourism has become one of Argentina’s principal sources of foreign currency.

Casa Rosada

The seat of government, the Casa Rosada is said to have originally taken its pink color from cow’s blood mixed in with the paint.

Economy Ministry

In 1955, Argentina’s air force dropped bombs on the Plaza de Mayo, the country’s principal square and home to the seat of government, in an effort to unseat the elected president, Juan Perón. About 300 people were killed and the façade of the Economy ministry still bears the scars from the bombardment.

Paseo Colon & Alsina

The graffiti which reads “Nestor Vive” refers to the deceased ex-president, Nestor Kirchner, who was president from 2003 to 2007, a time in which Argentina was recovering from a severe economic crisis in 2001. His wife, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, is the current president, having been reelected in 2011 to a second term.

The other graffiti, “Macri = Facho” refers to Mauricio Macri, who is the mayor of Buenos Aires and a member of the opposition. ‘Facho’ is a local slang word meaning ‘fascist.’

Paseo Colon, pintada política

Public buildings and walls are often covered in white wash upon which are written names or slogans of political candidates and parties. Known as pintada política, it is a street-based, graphical tradition in Argentina, with each party and faction having its own, unique style.

Club Atlético

The military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983 murdered about 30,000 of its own citizens. Various buildings were used as interrogation and torture centers prior to shooting the victims or tossing them out of airplanes. This area, at the intersection of Avenida San Juan and Paseo Colón, was one such center. It was known as Club Atlético although it was subsequently demolished to make way for one of the aforementioned elevated highways.

McDonald's

There are nearly 200 McDonald’s locations in Argentina, including this one just south of Parque Lezama in the neighborhood of Barracas.

Parque Lezama

Located in the southern part of the city, Parque Lezama is believed to be the site of the original founding of the city in 1536. The first settlement, however, was abandoned after 5 years due to attacks from the indigenous population.

One Response to “Riverbank | Barranca”

  1. John Sewell Says:

    Thanks for the great photos and info. Living in Seattle, this is a view into a different world, and a quite intriguing one at that.


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