Saturday, March 16, 2013

As Cities Grow: Buenos Aires

Becket, March 16, 2013

The new Pope is originally from the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Flores.  A very interesting part of the city, one of two towns (Belgrano is the other) that grew independent from the city core and was only absorbed by the larger fabric in the earlier part of the 20th century.

There is a beautiful 1892 map of Buenos Aires that shows the foundational grid of the city to the east, with finger-like extensions projecting out from the original rectangle.  It has already absorbed the neighborhood of La Boca to the south (a fiercely independent area of Genoese immigrants that a decade earlier had gone as far as to briefly secede from Argentina and raise the Genoese flag.)  But Belgrano to the north and Flores to the west were still independent towns, separated from the core by a largely rural landscape and connected by road and rail.  Actually the very first train line established in Argentina, with its legendary "La Portena" engine, linked downtown with Flores.  Both Belgrano and Flores (also the case with La Boca) developed their grids with local, independent geometries.

In 1898 Ebenezer Howard published his "To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform" where he first described his concept for the Garden City.  Not very different from the Buenos Aires shown on the 1892 map, don't you think?   

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