The capital of the country, Buenos Aires is also Argentina’s leading city in population, commerce, and industry.
It is located near the Atlantic Ocean coast, on the broad Ro de la Plata, an estuary at the mouth of the Paran and Paraguay rivers. The early Spanish colonists named the city for the “good winds” that brought them to the port. Today about 10 million people live in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, one of the largest in the world. The city proper makes up a federal district, and its mayor is appointed by the nation’s president.
The city is not a part of Buenos Aires province, which surrounds it. The City–Its People and CommerceGreater Buenos Aires is made up of many settlements that grew together. The oldest European center lay in the neighborhood of the present Plaza de Mayo, a large plaza in the downtown area.
Streets in the city were laid out according to a grid pattern described in the Cdigo de las Indias, a legal document followed by the Spaniards in settling the Western Hemisphere. The original grid is today surrounded by Balcarce, 25 de Mayo, Viamonte, Libertad, Salta, and Estados Unidos streets. Growth of the city first followed the high elevations, along which ox- and horse-drawn two-wheeled carretas carried freight and which the modern main avenues and the rail lines also follow. The most recent developments in the city are the industrial sectors that extend from the old center southward, such as Dock Sud, La Boca, Barracas, Pinero, and Lans. The Paran River plays an important role in the life of Buenos Aires. Oranges, grapefruit, cherries, plums, and vegetables are raised in its delta area. Vacation housing is widespread, and on weekends thousands of people fill the area to engage in recreational activities.
The Paran not only provides recreation, but also links the hinterlands with Buenos Aires and supplies water to the population. The central business district has high-rise office buildings and retail stores. Automobiles are not allowed on the Calle Florida, and shoppers roam its elegant stores, coffee houses, and hotels.
The nearby Calle Reconquista is the financial center. Outside the central business district much of the surrounding city has attractive cobblestone streets bordered by large, elegant houses and small shops. Many parks and local shopping districts blend in with the residential areas. Various languages may be heard, and in addition to many other languages,. newsstands sell papers in Spanish, English, and German.
Buenos Aires is noted for its many excellent bookstores. TransportationBuenos Aires is South America’s greatest railroad center, with lines radiating from the city toward Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, and southern Brazil. Within the city there is an extensive subway network.
Air transportation is well developed in Argentina and has its focal point in the capital. About three miles (five kilometers) northwest from the downtown center is the airport, Aeroparque Jorge Newberry, which handles domestic flights and some flights from neighboring countries. Approximately 20 miles (35 kilometers) from the city center lies Ezeiza Airport, the largest in the country and one of the world’s major international air terminals. The vast harbor system in Buenos Aires has opened the shallow river channels to the largest ships.
Huge warehouses line the 15 miles (24 kilometers) of wharves. The port is the largest in South America, but the port facilities are old and inefficient. Proposals to move the port to another, better harbor have met with little response. Avellaneda, the main industrial center, is located just south of the Riachuelo River.
From north to south major parts of the harbor stand out in a line extending for 6 miles (10 kilometers): huge power plants for the city; the yacht harbor, also used for seaplanes; wharves for large oceangoing vessels; and docks for smaller ships and for river and coastal shipping. CultureBuenos Aires is a major publishing center, noted for the world-renowned newspapers printed there. Among the most outstanding are La Prensa and La Nacin.
La Prensa became well known for offering social services, library facilities, free evening schools in commerce and music, free medical and legal aid, and a free chemical laboratory. The paper had trouble with President Juan Pern, who expropriated it because of its opposition to him. After Pern was ousted in 1956, the paper was returned to its owners. The city has many schools and technical colleges. The University of Buenos Aires, the major university in Argentina, provides high-level education. In music the city boasts one of the largest opera houses in South America, the Coln Theater.
There are many other theaters, in which singers, instrumentalists, and actors from throughout the world perform. Some of the cultural programs are broadcast over a network of radio and television stations. Popular music is dominated by the tango, a type of music originated in Argentina and known all over the world. HistoryEarly attempts by Spanish colonists to settle at the site of Buenos Aires, beginning in 1536, were discouraged by the presence of hostile Indians.
It was not until 1580 that Juan de Garay, a colonist from Asuncin, established what became the first permanent community at Buenos Aires. The city did not really begin to develop, however, until the late 1700s. In response to British and Portuguese expansion in the area and increased smuggling, Buenos Aires was made the seat of a Spanish viceroyalty in 1776. In the early 19th century Buenos Aires was a major center for the movement to free the country from Spain.
The city leaders had foreseen great economic advantages from the free trade that independence would bring. After independence the city grew rapidly as the center of Argentine political power. In 1880 it was made the permanent capital of the republic. Through World War I the city benefited from a stable economy and substantial foreign immigration.
During and after World War II heavy industrial growth contributed to the city’s expansion and reinforced its political and economic dominance of the country. Population (1986 estimate), federal district, 2,924,000. BibliographyComptons Encylcopedia Online – Aol Keyword: ComptonsThe Learning Company – Aol.Keyword: LearnMagellan Maps – Yahoo.com: maps