buenos aires: barracas revisited, services

With a population of about 80,000 people, Barracas has lots of space to provide all the public services necessary. Unfortunately, the barrio has few parks for the large area it occupies, but the green space available is nice enough. The gigantic Parque Leonardo Pereyra is the largest, Parque España was the former location of a corral & slaughterhouse (now home to the fabulous Hernán Cullen Ayerza statue “El Aborígen“), Plaza Colombia had wonderful sculptures by Julio Vergottini (who knows when they’ll be replaced) & tiny Plaza Díaz Vélez is one of my favorite… just a few blocks from the Riachuelo:

Buenos Aires, Barracas, Parque Leonardo Pereyra
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buenos aires: barracas revisited, residential

Given that Barracas has been divided into so many different parcels & has such an industrial character, few people consider it a prime residential area. That wasn’t always the case. Prior to the 1871 yellow fever epidemic, a list of families that called Barracas home was like a high society directory with last names like: Álzaga, Balcarce, Berisso, Brown, Guerrero, Llavallol, & Montes de Oca. Most of those mansions have been demolished, but a few remnants hang on… like the beautiful Cambacérès family home, now a school (Avenida Montes de Oca 123):

Buenos Aires, Barracas, residential
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buenos aires: barracas revisited, industrial

Buenos Aires, Barracas, industria

Probably its most defining characteristic, factories & warehouses can be found scattered all around Barracas. Everywhere. There’s no escape.

According to James R. Scobie‘s classic work “Buenos Aires: Plaza to Suburb, 1870-1910,” there was a concentrated effort to move industry south after 1890. Occasional fires & the reliance on soft coal from Cardiff & Glasgow for producing electricity & steam prompted city officials to move risky/dirty business as far away from populated areas as possible.

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buenos aires: barracas revisited, divisions

Buenos Aires, Barracas, map

Barracas is big. It’s bulky. And this southern barrio has a reputation for being bad. But it’s one of my favorite areas of Buenos Aires. Hopefully this series of posts will dispel some of the misrepresentations about Barracas & encourage people to explore it. I walked just about every block in Barracas back in 2007 & recently returned to see what’s changed. Quite a bit.

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buenos aires: parque de la ciudad

Parque de la Ciudad, Buenos Aires, Villa Soldati

Imagine having a gigantic, empty space just waiting to be developed within the city limits. Not many opportunities like that come along, but during the last dictatorship (1976-83) an enormous tract of land in the southern section of Buenos Aires became the city’s newest amusement park.

Just one problem: it never brought in the expected crowds.

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