A tribute to the renovate Puerto Madero
of Buenos Aires City.

Puerto Madero
History of the neighborhood

Félix Luna

(From book: Puerto Madero. .Lariviére Editors, B.A., Arg.)

"To open doors to the earth".

When to the "Oidor de Charcas" Juán de Matienzo it suggested to the king the necessity to found a city there, where Don Pedro de Mendoza seated first Buenos Aires in 1536, it insisted on the necessity "to open doors to the Earth". In effect, already the urgency to establish another communication channel with the Alto Peru was clear, mainly Potosí, that not outside long and the risky one that came from the Itsmo of Panama, arrived at Lima and after crossing fragosas mountain ranges it arrived at the great argentiferous center.
An entrance by the Rio de la Plata, with scales in Cordoba, Santiago del Estero, Tucumán and Salta, was much more short and without great natural obstacles.

So these disadvantages another one was added: the wished port was not so. The western borders of the estuary of the Silver were low and muddy, the depth of waters in the neighborhoods of the new population was little and the borders were spiny of rough.
To which the amount of existing sand banks had to be added in all the passage of the river, from its mouth in the bad Atlantic, obstacles known in the time which they meant mortal dangers for navigation. With which "the Earth door" was not more than a voluntarista initiative, that could have andamiento in the future but which then, last decades of Century XVI and first of the XVII, he was insurmountable.

Fragmento de espejo de agua en Pueto Madero.

No is to be strange, then, that the few ships of registry, that is to say, authorized by Corona, to arrive at Buenos Aires, had anchor to more than one legua of the population, disembarking their merchandise and possible passengers in small canoes or, if the waters were low, in great carts thrown by oxen, that with the river to the chest arduously managed to arrive at the border.
This, if it did not occur that sudden a sudestada one forced the ships to remain days and days at sight of the coast without being able to disembark or to embark people and goods.
"the route of the Silver".

What port! And nevertheless there was another entrance to the South Continent by he Atlantic part that could be used, and consequently Buenos Aires, very slowly in the ginning, fué becoming the aim (or no the principle according to it is watched) of "the route of the Silver", that took to the Tucumán and to the Peru stop. And also to Chile, because they did not lack travellers who, instead of sailing as opposed to the atagónicas coasts and surrounding to frightful the "Cabo de Hornos", they referred o disembark in the City of Garay and to cross to horse or in cart the expanded ampas that separated the Silver of the mountain range of the $andes; with a nonexistent port, Buenos Aires was the indispensable crossing site to arrive at the regions of the american South cone.

Otherwise, the City, pobrísima in the first decades of its existence tapeworm goods not to buy and consequently the traffic by the river lacked incentives. And this situation extended until the "Porteños" discovered leather.

Hoy we do not have idea of the importance of the leather, raw material to elaborate all luck of objects. Not only shoes but cartridge belt and straps for the soldiers, lining of the axes of the vehicles, very many objects for the home, even for linings of walls in the richest houses, petos and armors, cases and other many things. Europe was always eager for leather and here, in "Bonaerenses" Pampas, bovine million of strayed.

Then, towards 1620, when the period of vaquerías began. Eight or ten energetic men joined themselves to go to the immensity of Pampas.

When they detected a roundup of bovine without owner, entered horse the set and hamstring to the head of cattle with a species of lance. As soon as they verified that a great number of bovine was in the ground, they were them beheading and they take skin off them. All the rest of the animal, meat, bones, spears, was there in a total waste.

The leathers were packed in carts and soon in Buenos Aires, they were cured and later they were loaded in the ships that arrived to transport them to Europe. The leather, then, became the main element of export whereupon the "Porteños" counted, and that currency allowed them to concern what the city needed, in the first place "The Slaves".

The Operation to load leathers was long and difficult since there was to arrive until the ships in cart. A wharf, although outside small, had facilitated the operation but, already we know, nothing had in the city of Garay that outside the inkling of harbor.

Buenos Airs had been elevated in 1617 to the category of head of the Interior of Rio de la Plata. But the presence of the successive governors did not mean any harbor improvement. On the contrary, many governors were implied in ontrabands or in the unavoidable closings of ships supposedly arrived by necessity, that in fact they came so that its shipment was come to ruin to a group of neighbors who bought it to vile price with the complicity of authorities.

Plaza de la Santísima Trinidad, Puerto de Sta. María de Buenos Ayres. 1782
Ni at least were improvements for the disembarkation of people when the English, in 1720 and as a result of the treaty of Utrech, obtained the monopoly of the traffic of slaves in the Rio de la Plata. The unfortunate black, later of a marine passage, generally long and laborious, al to arrive in front of Good Airs were taken in small canoes or carts, chained, to the deposits that the British company had raised in Retirement and close del present Lezama park.

There the African had to recover of the trip until undertaking a new passage, this time towards the interior and possibly the "Alto Peru" for their sale. It was so the malodorousness which they dismissed the sheds where they lodged to the black that were complaints of the neighbors and sometimes they had to be transferred more to other moved away sites of the city.

Montevideo: a perfect bay.

But, at a half to del Century XVIII was appearing an admirable competitor to the harbor condition of Buenos Aires. One was Montevideo, that from its foundation by Bruno Mauricio de Zavala began to dream about replacing to the Porteña city in its character of "Door of the Earth". There were reasons to caress this illusion: Montevideo counted on a perfect bay, very defensible, a natural harbor of infinitely superior conditions for the traffic of people and Good merchandises that Buenos Aires.

Comparatively, its access by water was optimal. But naturally, the Eastern city, so that the passengers or the merchandises entered to the interior, had to transpose two great natural obstacles: the rivers Uruguay and Parana. Anyway, the jealousy of the Porteños retailers front to their possible rival lasted many years: so many, that towards 1805 the Consulate of Buenos Aires was against to that a light in the entrance of the montevideano port was placed. And towards aims of century XIX, the great transatlantic packet boats and that united this part of the continent with Europe cast anchor in Montevideo, and the passengers of and for Buenos Aires had to take the small ships that cross a Rio de la Plata to embark or to disembark in the Uruguayan capital.

Perhaps this rivalry between the two cities rivereñas was one of the reasons for pertinaz resistance of Artigas to the "Porteña" hegemony.

Be as it is, just in 1771, on the eve of the erection of Buenos Aires like capital of the Virreinato of Rio de la Plata, governor Juán Jose Vértiz ordered to a project from wharf to the Engineer Francisco Rodriguez and Cardozo, who did not take shape. The same luck ran the order that in 1780 made the Virrey Marquess of Loreto to the sailor and engineer Domingo Pallaré. When "El Vireey del Pino" was in 1802 indeed initiated the construction of a wharf, projected by engineer Martín Boneo. Well found as opposed to of Favor and had only thirty and five meters in length, and although it was small and vulnerable to great sudestadas, as it were demonstrated in 1805 when it was destruído by a storm, allowed at least that the passengers did not have to chapalear in the mud and tufas of the borders before stepping on mainland.

Del Río de la Plata al Estrecho de Magallanes. Plano

Wars of Independence distracted to bottoms and preoccupations towards the great objective of the emancipation, so that the intense traffic generated from 1810 continued being made of the primitive way of always. But the retailers, in special the English, pressed so that some facilities were carried out that facilitated the tasks.

In 1820, the English engineer James Bevans made the project of a wharf, that Happy Castro and Guillermo Robertson elevated to the government of the penetrated province of Buenos Aires "of the necessity of a wharf that feels like every day more in our port". And on the other hand, Bernardino Rivadavia made contract in Europe the engineer Carlos Pellegrini with the same object; the civil wars threw all these initiatives.

The Stroll of Julio.

Though, something became, although not directly related to the port but to the creek of the estuary. In 1845 the construction of a strong wall that contained waters throughout the stroll known like "La Alameda", inaugurated in 1804 by the Virrey Sobremonte, between the Rivadavia avenue and Corrientes avenue.

This strong wall had five meters of stop, with a dig in of pillars began that maintained iron fence. Bricks were used for the construction of the furnaces of Juán Manuel de Rosas, Governor of Buenos Aires in that then. The work was inaugurated in January of 1847 and although the Legislature solved to give the strong wall and to the adjacent stroll the name of the extinct woman of Roses, this requested that Stroll of Julio was denominated and thus fué known until the principle this siglo.El strong wall did not solve the problem of the nonexistent port, but at least avoided that great the sudestadas ones took waters of the river until street "25 de Mayo", leaving remainders of all kind.

Buenos Aires: wealth model and prosperity.

When, after the fall of Roses, the province of Buenos Aires separated of the rest of the Confederation, the "porteños" leaders raised with much clarity his prioridades. In this sense was fundamental that Buenos Aires asentuara its intermediary condition, because only the customs income would qualify it for the enormous expenses that the rebellious province had to confront: in the first place, to maintain the forces necessary to preserve the Buenosairean autonomy forehead to the confederal attacks, soon to arm to the State with all the attributes of the power and finally to make of Buenos Aires a model of wealth and prosperity that outside an example for the provinces that responded to the government of Panama.

For it, first was to construct something similar to a port and to erect a customs.

In 1854 the Governing Pastor Obligado promulgates a law by which he authorizes his government to invest until million two hundred thousand pesos in the construction of a wharf for passengers. Joaquin Tudury caused the construction of a great breakwater on the river to make a port of cabotage. Emilio Castro proposes a great wharf in front of the city. Juán M. Carreras also bets to a wharf, but on the Brook. Vicente Cáceres, Rafael Trelles, Juán Martín Estrada display diverse projects. Finally, assign to a commission that orders to Gerardo Bosch the construction of the soft discussed one. In February of 1855 the works begin, that are inaugurated solemnly in September of that same year.

Muelle de pasajeros. 1855

The works had been directed by English engineer Edward Taylor. The wharf perpendicularly rose to the "Stroll of Julio" between the present streets Bartholome Mitre and Sarmiento and extended on the river throughout 210 meters.

It was elaborated in hard wood and in its central part a route had been placed that towards possible the use of delivery trucks for loads and luggage. By initiative of Prilidiano Pueyrredón two kiosks construídos in Great Britain settled in the entrance, of octagonal form with channeled plates and fused iron structure, for use of the employees of the customs. Four rubblework pillars with vases and allegorical figures gave the welcome to the travellers. Years later a light of almost ten meters of height settled there. Also they were added, with time, four windlasses and another kiosk of form circular.

A this humble wharf - that was demolished when the works of "Puerto Madero" began - arrived the rest of Rivadavia, San Martín and Sarmiento.

Pero as the wharf was the building of the customs or New Customs, that began to also construct in 1855, on the planes elaborated by Tylor engineer. It was a construction in chamber that Hard took advantage of the pit the old one, on ravines of
the river and after the facade this of the rest of the same one. He was separated of these by a street that later was taken advantage of to tend rails of the railroad to Ensenada.

Aduana Nueva de Taylor. 1855
It has two floors with windows of arc of half point and contained a place for merchandise deposit - the great reclamation of Bartholome Mitre from the pages of the press - as well as a yard of maneuvers and a tower of three

This was the great building that the travellers watched when they were arriving at Buenos Aires by the river. The Customs was everything a symbol of the aspirations of the Buenosairean city. At the moment, the rest of their deposit comprise of the Museum of the House of Government and when crossing them it cannot let admire the nobility and construction of his factory, as well as the yearning of progress that reveal.

But evidently, these constructions did not give to definitive solutions to the problems derived from the load and merchandise unloading and to the boarding and disembarkation of people. The ships that arrived at Buenos Aires had greater openwork, navigation to steam became general and the immigrants arrived every time in greater number. After the battle of Pavón (1861), when the Argentina Nation was unified and the national government settled in the Buenosairean city, the subject of the port acquired an enormous importance. The projects that appeared in ahead and many were several the controversies that provoked: just in the decade of 1880 the
construction of a port was begun like which it needed the country. Nevertheless, a private company constructed a wharf in under "Las Catalinas", to the height of the Charcas Street, in the middle of the decade of 1870; the levee went into in the river and made a right angle to attenuate the surge. It was demolished when the definitive works of harbor.

“Puerto Huergo or Puerto Madero”.

For to review the ups and downs that underwent the diverse projects, nothing better than to follow the synthesis that the North American historian does James R. Scobie in his book "Buenos Aires, from Downtown to the Neighborhood".

En the 1870 governments of the Nation and the province of Buenos Aires subscribed a contract with the prestigious English engineer John F. Bateman, that had participated in works of water-drainage of London in 1871, leaving the planes that elaborated into the hands of the authorities. It proposed a great dock in front of Seat of May at that it would be arrived by two channels, one to the north and another one to the south until the Brook. Its plan was object of demolishers critics and finally it was not taken into account. Also it proposed a project Guillermo Rigoni: a circular dock to five kilometers of the coast, very expensive work, almost faraónica, that also were left of lado.En reality, the discussions of the decade of ´70 and principles of ´80 were centered in the antagonistic proposals of two personalities which they polarized opinions, I interest and political and journalistic forces after their people. It was, it could be said, a fight prolonged and ardent between two opposed conceptions.

Luis Huergo had been born in Buenos Aires of a family of rich retailers. He did his first studies in a jesuita school of Maryland, the United States. In 1870 he was received from civil engineer in the University of Buenos Aires: she was the first professional of this branch that obtained its diploma in that house of studies. Senator in the Legislature of Buenos Aires was delegated and and constructed bridges, ways, channels and works of irrigation. But its great dream was to project and to construct the port of Buenos Aires and to this objective dedicated to good part of his life.

Otherwiset, Eduardo Madero, born in Buenos Aires in 1832 in a family dedicated to farming workings, founded a company dedicated to export and import and also seted out to present a project of port with the technology support and British capitals.

Huergo and Madero, two personages - admirable by his perseverancia and the ability whereupon they knew to attract adhesions his respective proposals - that incarnated two ideas different to equip Buenos Aires with the entrance and exit that it would connect to Argentina with Europe. Both they hit repeated times, both they were able to popularize its respective projects, both mobilized to newspapers, the politicians, the forces of the commerce after its projects. Finally, as we see, Madero prevailed, although it passed away before the port that would take its name finished being constructed.

Mr. Eduardo Madero (1832 – 1894)

In synthesis, Huergo proposed to use the Brook and its environs, to canalize it and to qualify it for the entrance of ships of great openwork. As well, Madero had the idea to construct the facilities to the front of the "Plaza de Mayo", with a dock and two channels of access. Around these conceptions it turned the fight that would be to get rid until half-full of the decade of ´80.

For many, Huergo represented, says Scobie, "the Creole tradition and the nationalistic development of the Argentine economy", as well as Madero looked for the modernization and the progress on the base of the capitals and the european technics.

Madero traveled to England in the middle of the decade of ´60 and returned with its concrete proposal that was accepted by the Department of the Interior. One was to construct two docks, a drydock and a deep water channel forehead to Seat of May. Mitre, that was national senator, with the support of its newspaper the Nation, fully was against the project, affirming that this it had to study thoroughly in the Congress. Finally the contract project with Madero was retired of the same one. Defeat of Madero, well.

En change, Huergo obtained in 1875 that the government of the province, with the assent of the national authorities, trusted the partial execution to him of his project: that is to say, to modify the mouth of the Brook and to dredge a channel of access of nine feet.

Work in dam 2, inaugurated in 1890

Although slowly, the works were advancing and by the end of 1878 some overseas boats could cast anchor in the Brook and berth in the deposits of the Mouth. Of course, this meant a greater commercial activity in the South part of Buenos Aires. But the conflicts of 1880 finished with the subsidies promised by the government provincial.

Though, by the end of the 1880 government of Argentine Julio Roca paid most of the engaged subsidy and Huergo traveled to England to order new dredges. In 1881 the Legislature of the Province voted a game for dredged of the Brook until veintiun the feet and Huergo, as well, added to its project the construction of a series of parallel docks that were constructed on the coast until the "Plaza de Mayo", protected by a breakwater. Triumph for Huergo then.

Un overseas port in the Boca.

The possibility that the Mouth was constructed in the Port of Buenos Aires was not utopian. From half-full of Century XIX a numerous, originating population had settled there in its majority of genoveses, that had marine experience and operated the fluvial
commerce. Several small shipyards existed and the Brook was an ideal refuge apparently for the great ones sudestadas that used to whip the coasts of the river. An overseas port in the Mouth would still mean the putting in value of the South zone of the city and of the adjacent territory, Brook by means, pertaining to the province of Buenos Aires.

The Newspaper "La Prensa" supported this idea enthusiastically and the senator Adolph Dávila, tie to the newspaper of La Paz affirmed in the Senate, in 1882, that the Congress already had been expressed in the sense that the port of Buenos Aires had to be constructed in the Mouth and that the national government had to be in charge of the work. Definitive triumph of Huergo?

But Madero did not waste the time. In 1881 it traveled to London, where it managed to jeopardize the advising of sir John Hawkshaw, perhaps the most prestigious engineer of England, and the promise of Baring Brothers to provide the necessary bottoms. The plan included four docks and two channels, to the north and the south, all it on earth gained to the river between Retirement and the neighborhoods of the Mouth, with the main axis to the front of the Seat of May. In June 1882 it formally presented these plan to the Argentine authorities.

And suddenly the panorama was opened. Between September and October of 1882 the Congress approved a law that it authorized to the Executive authority to contract with Madero the construction of the port. A shining speech of Carlos Pellegrini was determining for the approval of the project in Deputies and in the Senate only rose to a voice for discuss him.

Though, those in favor of Huergo could exhibit as an important profit the fact that the transatlantic "L'Italia", with an openwork of fifteen feet, had been able to cast anchor in the Brook. In fact, veintitres percents of the boats arrived at thirty and the five Buenos Aires and percent of their tonnage arrived at the Mouth. But Madero, with the triumph of the law in its hand, returned to England to confirm the technical attendance of Hawkshaw and the financier of Baring Brothers, as well as the hiring of companies that would provide the necessary machines for the works. Now yes, everything went away put back oin track.

A 1884 ends President Roca subscribed the definitive contract in a solemn ceremony which they attended Mitre, Sarmiento and Avellaneda, that subscribe next to the President of the Nation the writing that to this end is worked. They ratify therefore the inmanente will of unit, greatness, prosperity and commercial development in all the towns of the world.

For his part, Huergo - that anyway had continued fighting by its project and had had the satisfaction to see arrive at the Brook the English boat "Mac Duff" with an openwork from almost twenty feet, in October of 1883 - it decided to lay down the arms in January of 1886. It had freed a good fight and it had lost. It followed, almost until his death, generating publications and conferences in defense of his thesis, while to the same front of the historical seat they were risen to the docks and docks that his rival projected.

Puerto Madero. 1884-1910

Puerto Madero: a reality.

It was a titanic work that was carried out with an impressive continuity in spite of the changes of government and the difficult economic conditions of the country. The company of Madero contract in Great Britain to Armstrong, Mitchell and Ci'a. In order to make hydraulic works and to Thomas To Walker for civil works; two corporations ordered of works until his conclusión.En January of 1889 inaugurated first dock, to the south in act solemn to that it attended president Pellegrini, who in the occasion called "Puerto Madero" to the emprendimiento, and thus was for always. In 1890 docks one and two were inaugurated. In 1891 the works were suspended by the severe crisis that affected the country. But the sectors leaders of Buenos Aires knew that it was urgent and essential to finish with the work of the port and in 1892, with the subsidies voted by the Congress, concluded dock three. Another credit in 1895 allowed to conclude the task: Madero had passed away a year before.

Puerto Madero in 1912. Premature decline.

En 1897 got rid to the service dock four, located near of "Retiro", and a year later it was qualified so discussed channel of the north. Finally, Puerto Madero in 1912 was a reality. From the same center of the city the red constructions of the deposits, built with brought bricks of England and the silhouettes of the ships were seen that berthed in their docks. Altogether, the work had cost thirty and six million weights gold, ten and six million more of the original budget.

But when the port was finished, it was clear that already it was small. It had not been an error in the construction: what it happened was that the growth of the traffic of merchandises of export and import, as well as the movement of passengers increased of exponential way. Nobody had been able to preveer similar increase: in 1910, for example, one calculated in the thirty thousand boats that entered and left the harbor.

This circumstance stuffed it mainly and, the merchandise transport until the same one. From "Plaza Once"to"Plaza de Mayo", the cars delayed very many time and later they had to crowd in front of the docks to load or to unload. The slowness of this process was uneconomical and the protests take over.

New Harbor.

In 1902 the government of President Roca summoned North American engineer Elmer Cothell so that it suggested solutions. The technician, specialist in ports in his country, proposed a jetty which he would avoid the attacks of the river, which sometimes they made difficult to the works in the dock located more to norte.

A year later, the government sent to Europe to two Argentine engineers, Gustavo Jolly and Luis Curutchet, to study harbor problems, but its report was not considered. Another engineer, a Dutch who directed the Port of Hamberes considered that the problem was not as much in the port as in its administration, little efficient. It is possible that, as a result of this report, the "General Supervision Of Harbor" was reorganized in 1911.

Certain sure is that the "Puerto Madero"was insufficient for the function that had to fulfill. And here the history of the undertake would have to finish but it is possible to add that this evidence took to the construction of the call New Port, whose works concluded just in 1926.

The Strategic Plaza de Mayo.

To summarize the sigificación of "Puerto Madero"we can transcribe the words whereupon Scobie closes the chapter dedicated to this work: "the commercial group arisen from Independence and specially from half-full from Century XIX, tended to settle down to the north of the "Plaza de Mayo". Therefore, wholesalers and retailers, I interest furniture and transports tended to take root with evident persistence in the areas the west and north of the plaza. The construction of the most important facilities of the port, immediately to the east of the same one reinforced this tendency, guaranteeing the prosperity and expansion of the group.

The national authorities belonged to a large extent - at least after the formation of an effective national authority under the presidency of Mitre in 1862 - to this commercial group and provincial political sectors that had come to Buenos Aires and which they also supported decidedly the concentration on Seat of May and its accesses the west and north ". "In addition, the import and exporting influence of the foreign banks and interests, together with to the financial commitments of the national authorities and the more recent commercial interests, decidedly favored to the "Puerto Madero". The Englishman, because of their narrow commercial entailments with Argentina, as well as by their recent investments in railroads, gas, companies of street cars and loans to the national government, and assumed the main role when providing technical assistance and capital for the Madero Project. For all these groups, the huge plan of Madero offered many more possibilities for the speculation and the enrichment that most modest of Huergo. The great earth surface that were to win to the river, the necessary men and machines for the construction, the opportunities of speculations in real estate and the promise of a greater expansion in the commercial activity contributed to wake up an intense enthusiasm (...) the construction of "Puerto Madero", consequently, reinforced the centralization of the city in the "Plaza de Mayo".

Eduardo Madero: vision and creative capacity.

So far , the North American historian. Let us add, by our part, that "Puerto Madero" filled an uninhabited urban space and rustic, it closed the river with beautiful and imposing constructions and constituted during several decades the entrance and exit of the country towards overseas. Finished its function now has another destiny, also tie closely to our city, the improvement of its urban contour and to the quality of life of its inhabitants. This could not it have dreamed Eduardo Madero, but it also means a tribute to his vision and its creative capacity.

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