National Geographic : 1939 Nov
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by Alfred T. Palmer FREIGHTERS LOAD BULGING CARGOES AT THE OLD PORT ALONG THE RIACHUELO Heavy draft horses still pull rumbling drays over the cobblestone quays at the southern end of Buenos Aires. Passenger steamers dock farther north (Plate V and pages 566 and 588). a flower-blanketed funeral, a block long. At five, the gauchos are driving cattle into the stockyards at Nueva Chicago. At six, the port wakes up. Seven is busy enough, but the suburban clerks, stenographers, and business men won't come pouring in until eight or half past. After that, you won't miss anything but lunch if you sleep till four." Buenos Aires' energy is traditional. The early settlers did not squat beside deep water and let their city float in as ballast or cargo. There was only a shallow river on whose muddy bottom a truant lad could have walked out of sight without going over his head (page 566). Having tamed the river to its use and dredged broad basins with 26 feet of water in them where a dugout canoe would once have grounded, Buenos Aires was able to influence shipbuilders half a world away. Even the Suez Canal makes its dredges squeal under the tyranny of broader beams and deeper keels. Buenos Aires uses its coveted trade as a spur to marine archi tects everywhere. There the city stands, exporting meat and grain from the spot where Mendoza's grandees starved. Be- hind the flash of windshields I often imagined the morions and breastplates of Mendoza's pioneers. WINDS, NOT TIDES, AFFECT SHIPPING Though Buenos Aires stands not so much onariverbankasonanarmoftheAt lantic, the tide is negligible. What really changes the water level is the wind. Even during my visit heavy steamers canted over in the mud. At times the deep set waterworks pumps have run dry and thirsty folk have dipped water out of the city's fountains. When a downstream wind combines with the current, the Rio de la Plata looks like a well-watered course for a race to Uruguay between Pharaoh's chariots and the Israelites. Old prints by Emeric Vidal and Ibarra show women doing laundry where big steamers now berth, and Luna Park prize fighters buffet each other where the laun dresses paddled soiled clothes. Not until 1855 could passengers land on a mole which looked like an amusement pier, and men now living remember the high-wheeled carts in which travelers were carried from small boats to the shore.