Buenos Aires Secrets
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The history of “La Boca”
After the founding of Buenos Aires, and until at least 1830, what is now called La Boca neighborhood had almost no population. Between 1830 and 1852, the first families arrived to the neighborhood. La Boca, place of transit of ships and port of entry to the city of Buenos Aires, grew due to the incessant and continuous migrations received from Italy and Spain. Without a doubt, the families that came from Genoa gave this area a distinctive culture. For example, now a days, the famous Xeneizes (That means “Genovese”) is the current name of the supporters of Boca Juniors football club. In 1870 La Boca had the same structure and in 1895 the census showed a potpourri of nationalities. From the 38000 habitants, half of them were Argentinian, 14000 were Italian, and 2500 Spanish. The rest of them were from many other nationalities.
The reason why of the migration process is complex and hard to explain. But in a very simple way, Europe was changing to an industrial economy, expelling farmers from the farms. In other hand, Argentina was consolidating as a new and great nation. Argentinian policies promoted the European migrations, as we required workers for the labors in the countryside. The workers, that the Argentinian aristocracy wanted, were Europeans as they did not consider that the Aborigines were suitable for that job, considering them “barbarians”. Argentinian embassies in Europe promoted our country as an ideal destination for living. They offered the immigrants a ticket boat to Argentina, a job and a place where to live. Such was the need of labor that in 1876 was built the Immigrant Hotel of Buenos Aires (located in Retiro, next to Puerto Madero).
In 1870 and 1871 an epidemic of yellow fever made wealthy families of La Boca and San Telmo, relocate to the northern part of the city, avoiding overcrowding, poor hygiene and contaminated water from the “Saladeros” (name of the place where they used to salt the meat to preserve it, as in that time there where no freezers). As the result of this process the Aristocratic built the typical French-style palaces designed to commemorate our 100 years of our independence. La Boca is such an interesting place. Everywhere you look, in every corner there is history printed in the walls, on the streets. The whole neighborhood is a part of the past and the present, not only of Buenos Aires, but also of our nation. The famous Caminito Street, the shuttle Nicolas Avellaneda and the new bridge, La Usina del Arte, “La Bombonera” (Boca Juniors Stadium), the history of the tango, the Yellow House, Benito Quinquela Martin, the first firemen of the city, Museums and much more stories that we will tell you in our tours if you let us or that you can find them in future post (as each topic deserves a chapter on their own).
The small pictures were taken by Jean Christian Cottu. We invite you to see more of his work in his website. He is an extraordinary photographer who made all the tours in Buenos Aires with us, during the visit of the European Sport Group Communication SA to our country.
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