Buenos Aires, Argnetina
“The business and financial centers of Argentina are concentrated within this neighborhood and its neighboring barrio Monserrat. The largest and most obvious landmark is Av. 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world. It spans 12 lanes (6 lanes in either direction) and has several medians in case you can’t make it all the way across in one go. Most people can’t.
In the center of 9 de Julio is the Obelisk, ostensibly the country’s most famous landmark. It was built in 1936 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of the city and was placed in the location where the Argentine flag was first flown in Buenos Aires. Traditionally, futból fans gather to celebrate glorious victories here (See Boca Juniors’ victory celebration from 2008 video footage by LPBA).
Teatro Colón, one of the most famous opera houses in the world, and also lies on Av. 9 de Julio. The theater recently underwent renovations and reopened in 2010.
Av. Florida, a popular pedestrian street in Buenos Aires, is home to many stores and restaurants. Leather, silver, computers, coffee and wine can all be conveniently purchased here. The street also attracts a wide variety of street performers and tourists.
Sandwiched between San Nicolás and Monserrat is the Casa Rosada, the president’s home and office. It is rumored that the pink color was actually a practical choice because ox’s blood was used to thicken paint and to make it more able to withstand the dense humidity common in Buenos Aires.
The Congress building and the Casa Rosada are both reachable by the subte A line. The subway line (A only) still uses the original subway cars from the 1920′s with manually opening doors!
El Centro (The Center), also known as San Nicolás, was founded in 1773 by the San Nicolás Parish. This neighborhood, along with its neighboring barrio Monserrat, is home to most of the government institutions and most famous national landmarks. The development of the land in this area was rapid and was sped along by the presence of the British, who established a consulate, merchant’s society, and modern bank here during the early 1800s.
Juan Manuel Rosas donated land to the St. John the Baptist Anglican church in a good-will gesture toward the British. Nearby, the missionaries from the United States constructed a Methodist church.
Having already become the financial center of the country, this area was crowned with the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange in 1854. A domino effect of construction quickly followed and, thanks to a group of powerful British empresarios, the area soon saw the first railway station in Latin America (1857). By 1913 the area also was home to the first metro stations in the Southern Hemisphere. Many of the original trains still run on the A-line.
San Nicolás soon housed a heavy concentration of theaters and entertainment facilities including Teatro Colón and Teatro Cervantes. The present layout of the area took hold in 1936 when Av. 9 de Julio, the largest avenue in the world, was constructed.”
Monserrat & San Nicolas are the contemporary “heart” of Buenos Aires. This is where the government, big businesses, professionals, traffic, tourists and tall buildings can be found. Even for being so busy and “business centered,” all of the people that we met where very nice, patient and helpful. The buildings are beautiful and very European (many would be just as “home” in Paris). The walk between the Congressional building and the Casa Rosada is very manageable and well worth the time. We found it ironic that a dog park was placed in the square directly in front of the Congressional building, when in the US they can’t even be placed in neighborhoods without protest. Avenue 9 de Julio is absolutely huge and is nearly impossible to cross entirely without waiting in the median for the next red light. The Obelisk is located in the center of the Avenue and is surrounded by brightly lit advertisements and logos (in part so they appear in all the photos taken of the monument).