No matter in which town, big or small you find yourself in Argentina you notice the same street names time after time. It doesn’t matter if you are in Buenos Aires or Tapalque where my estancia, La Margarita, is located you will still find these street names again and again.
One thing is for sure Argentina is proud of its heroes and anniversaries. But who are these heroes and what happened on these dates that have streets named after them in almost every town in Argentina? The In answer to these agonizing questions here are answers to the ten most popularly named streets so that the next time you find yourself in say Av. 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires you will know just what happened on that date – pub quizzes will have no fear for you after you read this short article!
What was amazing on researching this little article I decided to ask my Argentine friends to give me the low down on their heroes and famous dates – the only one they could really be sure of was St Martin and even then they weren’t quite sure of the facts – so this article will no doubt not only appeal to the tourists amongst you but to those Argentines who missed a few history lessons at school – it’s all fascinating stuff so here goes:
Av.9 de Julio: Almost without exception all towns in Argentina will have a street named Av.9 de Julio. It will also normally be the main street. Av.9 de Julio in Buenos Aires is said to be the widest avenue in the world – that’s arguable but it’s certainly wide and crossing it you have plenty of time to reflect on why it’s thought to be this as you dodge the traffic light jumpers.
In fact the 9th of July 1816 was the date that Argentina finally declared Independence from Spain. Declared by the Congress of Tucumán as United Provinces of South America, which is still a legal name of the Argentine Republic. Due to the disruptions in Spain, Argentina saw its chance to be rid of the hated Spanish (they obviously knew about the coming Costa del Sol questionable vacations). A congress was arranged on March 24, 1816 and the idea was to vote for independence. It took until 9th July 1816 to finally declare a state of Independence in Argentina. The house where the historic declaration was made in Tucumán has been rebuilt and is now a museum and monument open to tourists.
Av. Rivadavia: Av. Rivadavia in Buenos Aires was originally the main thoroughfare out of the city before the auto routes were built – try it on a Friday night and you will lose the will to live. It still is a very important route out of the city but just who was Señor Rivadavia and why is he responsible for all those traffic jams?
Trinidad González Bernardino Rivadavia to give him his full name was a lieutenant when the British invaded Argentina. He was elected to be the first President of Argentina. He was appointed by the then Congress in February 8, 1826 until July 7 1827 – a pretty short term the reason being that the same Congress that elected him was dissolved in 1827. He continued to serve his country for some time after but eventually retired to Spain (Costa del Sol no doubt!) where he died in 1845. His remains were repatriated to Argentina in 1857, receiving honors as Captain General. Today his remains rest in a mausoleum located in the Plaza Miserere, adjacent to Av.Rivadavia named in his honor.
Av. Belgrano: Named after Manuel Belgrano who was an important figure in the creation of Argentina. He participated in The War of Independence against Spain. His most lasting contribution is that he created the flag of Argentina in the town of Rosario. He also oddly supported the idea of a monarchy in Argentina headed by a noble Inca but failed (luckily some may say) to gain support. He died June 20th 1820. June the 20th is a national holiday to recognize this and it is around this day that children at school dress in light white clothing on the coldest day of the year to honor the flag.
Av. Pueyrredón: Juan Martin Pueyrredón was responsible for organizing a team of volunteers against the English in 1806. He was defeated, but later united with the army of Liners to recapture the city in August of that year. He had the vision to see that anarchy was on the horizon in Argentina and he resigned his post in 1819 as supreme director of Argentina. He unfortunately was proved right about anarchy and disorder in Argentina and in 1820 civil war came to Argentina- some say the disorder never went away judging by the driving
Sarmiento: Domingo Faustino Sarmiento born on 15th Feb 1811 was an Argentine activist, intellectual, writer statesman and was the seventh President of Argentina (1868-1874). His claim to fame in Argentina was the opposition to the dictatorship of Rosas and the support he gave to get democracy for Latin America. He was responsible for introducing and modernizing the train system here and the postal system (umm wish he was around now – there is still work to be done!). He was a champion of education and introduced a comprehensive education system. Sarmiento is also said to have introduced the first vines to Argentina from Chile.
He died in Paraguay in aged 77 but is still one of the most respected Argentines. He is buried in Buenos Aires.
25 de Mayo: The May Revolution was a week-long series of revolutionary events that took place from May 18th to May 25th 1810 in Buenos Aires against the Spanish and it eventually succeeded in ousting Spain’s control of Argentina. It was a time when Napoleon’s France, who had taken over half the country in 1810, had weakened Spain. However, it took until 9th July 1816 for Argentina to be fully rid of Spain and gain it true independence.
Bartolomé Mitre: Bartolomé Mitre was, amongst other things, President of Argentina. He was born in the City of Buenos Aires in a building on the corner of Suipacha and Lavalle. Like many of his contemparies he went into exile for his opposition to the murderous Rosas. He returned to Argentina after the defeat of Rosas and in 1862 was elected President of Argentina. During his tenure he introduced the metric system. He was also involved in the Triple Alliance where Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina united to go to war against Paraguay – one of Latin Americas saddest days – Paraguay never recovered.
He is buried in the cemetery in Recoleta
Almirante Brown: Almirante Brown was Irish being born in County Mayo Ireland in 1777. He was the first Admiral of the Argentina Navy. He is said to have served in the British Royal Navy before coming to Argentina in 1810. He battled against the Spanish, Brazilians and other enemies of Argentina but refused to have anything to do with internal conflict when civil war came. He died in 1857
Plaza San Martín: Last but not least, no doubt about it, José Francisco de San Martín, born in the Province of Corrientes in Argentina 1778, is the hero of Argentina and is considered the founding son of the country. He fought for Spain against Napoleon and in 1812 came to Argentina to start his campaign against his former employers Spain in the liberation of Chile, Argentina and Peru.
He famously marched across the Andes in the January of 1817 to defeat the Spanish and liberate Chile – no mean feat in the days before there was a Mc Donald’s or Starbucks on each corner.
After his wife died in 1873 he became disillusioned with Argentina (he knew the Kirchners were coming maybe) and started his plans to return to Europe. He settled in Boulogne sur Mer where he died in August 1850. His remains were eventually brought back to Argentina and he is buried in Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires, Argentina located in the Plaza De Mayo.
So there you have it the next time you are in Buenos Aires or even Tapalque you will be able to impress your friends and family with your supreme knowledge of Argentine heroes and celebrations dates.
About the author: David Cummings is the author of Argentine Report available through Escape Artist and the owner of La Estancia La Margarita a beautiful retreat in the Argentina Pampas. He is also the founder of Tierra Estates, a company which helps with the process of finding and purchasing property in Buenos Aires.
Links to useful resources on Argentina:
Vacation Rentals in Argentina
Medical Tourism In Argentina