National Geographic : 1921 Oct
BUENOS AIRES AND ITS RIVER OF SILVER A Journey Up the Parana and Paraguay to the Chaco Cattle Country BY WILLIAM R. BARBOUR AS YOUR ship, at the end .of its seven-thousand-mile journey from New York, breasts the current of the majestic Rio de la Plata, and the white buildings of Buenos Aires appear low in the west before you, you are, per haps, disappointed especially so if you have stopped en route at Rio de Janeiro and been privileged to view its fairy-like setting, with the mountains girt about it and the blue Atlantic laving its curving shore-line. Like a person of retiring nature, whom you must know long and well to appreciate, Buenos Aires reveals itself little by little to you and twines itself about your heart, till ere long, and so gradually that you have not realized it, its subtle charm has made a lasting conquest. Your first view shows great white grain elevators in rows along the shore, with one skyscraper of fourteen stories loom ing up behind them. The great size of the city is not evident, for the land is flat and the warehouses and office buildings close to the busy docks hide all that lies behind. A CITY WITH NO SLUMS Nearly every traveler is impressed first of all by the cleanliness of the capital of the Argentine Republic. The industries of the city are confined largely to port activities and trading. Partly for this reason and partly because Argentina has no coal, and hence cannot manufacture cheaply, hideous chimneys and smoke grimed factories are not numerous. There are no slums. Naturally, there are dis tricts of poverty, but the tenement, as we know it, does not exist. In even the poorest quarters, such as the "Boca," the streets are clean and well paved, and the houses, only one or. two stories high, all have patios behind them. The houses are tinted cream white or yellowish tan and face directly on the streets, with blank or nearly blank walls. One drawback to the older part of the city is the narrowness of the streets, and especially the sidewalks, which are often three feet or less from wall to curb. There is no excuse for this, for when the city was laid out, the whole vast expanse of the pampas lay open behind it. The newer streets are much wider, often with a ribbon of shrubbery and grass down the center. Buenos Aires is roughly circular in shape and of immense size, covering some seventy-five square miles. Two of its sides are formed by the Rio de la Plata (so wide that it seems like a muddy sea) and a small stream, the Riachuelo. Along both of these, but principally the former, are the numerous docks, basins, and warehouses. Avenida Rivadavia, start ing at the waterfront and running almost due west, divides the city into two roughly equal portions. Over the greater part of the city the streets intersect at right angles, and it would be a very easy place in which to find one's way around were it not for the fact that the streets are all named instead of numbered, most of the names being historical or geographical. Every coun try in the world has a street named for it, and every Argentine president, general, or other important personage. Another habit is to name streets for dates, of which there are several roughly corre sponding to our Fourth of July. Thus there are Avenida de Mayo, Calle 25 de Mayo, Paseo de Julio, and Parque de las Tres de Febrero. AVENIDA DE MAYO, TIIE CHIEF ARTERY OF TIlE CITY Much of the city is uninteresting, con sisting of block after block of low plaster covered brick buildings and innumerable small almacencs (groceries), cervecerias (beer saloons), cafes (coffee-houses; here a cafe is not a restaurant, as in United States), cigarrerias,and loterias (shops where lottery tickets are sold).