Avenidas de Buenos Aires: Leandro Alem

alem 2PH: Leandro Neumann Ciuffo

La Avenida Leandro Alem, que lleva el nombre del fundador del partido político Unión Cívica Radical (UCR), abarca 13 cuadras desde Plaza San Martín hasta la Casa Rosada, sede del Poder Ejecutivo, y ofrece una lección de historia política y económica argentina.

Para comenzar el recorrido, conviene arrancar desde Plaza San Martín que además de brindar la sombra de sus árboles, es donde está situado el Monumento a los caídos en Malvinas. El Edificio Kavanagh, sobre uno de los laterales de la plaza, es otro punto emblemático de la ciudad, y cruzando la Avenida, está la Plaza Fuerza Aérea Argentina donde se ubica la histórica Torre Monumental. Un poco más adelante, sobre los laterales de Leandro Alem, se elevan torres y bancos que conforman la zona comercial central de la ciudad. Entre los edificios más emblemáticos de la zona, se encuentran la Torre Catalinas Norte, que lleva el nombre de un amor no correspondido de Alem, y otros como la torre IBM y el Edificio Alas. Frente a la Torre Catalinas, el Club Danés, ubicado en el piso 12 del Edificio Dinamarca, es una excelente opción de almuerzo los días de semana con vista panorámica al río.

Cruzando la Avenida Corrientes, punto desde el cual se puede ver el Obelisco, está el Centro Cultural Kirchner, ex Correo Argentino, que ofrece una variedad interesante de propuestas culturales. Algunas oficinas estatales completan el recorrido que desemboca en la Casa Rosada y en Plaza de Mayo. Durante los fines de semana y feriados se pueden hacer tours de la Casa Rosada antes de cruzar hacia San Telmo para recorrer la feria de antigüedades y parar a tomar un café en algunos de los bares emblemáticos de la ciudad.

 

Buenos Aires Avenues: Leandro Alem

alem

PH:Marysol*

Named after the UCR political party founder Leandro Alem, this bustling avenue spans from Plaza San Martín to Casa Rosada (Pink House), where government headquarters are located, and is a lesson in Argentine political and economic history.

You can start the tour at Plaza San Martín  which is full of shady trees and also where the Monument to the soldiers fallen in Malvinas/Falklands is placed. The neighboring Kavanagh building is another important landmark, and in front of Plaza San Martín, in the Plaza Fuerza Aérea Argentina, is  the Torre Monumental clock tower  which is another of the city’s historical sites. Further on, a few blocks with skyscrapers and banks form part of the central commercial district of the city, and here you will find some emblematic skyscrapers such as Torre Catalinas Norte, named after Alem’s unrequited love, and others such as the IBM tower and the Alas building. In front of Catalinas is the Edificio Dinamarca, which on weekdays has a good Danish lunch spot, Club Danés, on the 12th floor with a great view of the river and skyline.

Crossing Corrientes Avenue (from where you can see the Obelisco), the Centro Cultural Kirchner, once the central post office of the city, is well worth the visit and offers a lot of interesting exhibits and cultural activities. Other government offices line Alem until reaching the famous Casa Rosada and Plaza de Mayo, where government headquarters are located. Don’t miss out on one of the weekend tours before losing yourself on the other side in the San Telmo district as you look for antiques and a nice place to stop for coffee

Guest Blogger: Chance Miller

Tour guide Chance Miller shares some of his favorite hidden sights unexpectedly located right off Plaza de Mayo.

Elevators in Galeria Güemes by Chance MIller

Elevators in Galeria Güemes by Chance MIller

When people ask me what Off-The-Beaten-Path locations I suggest, I tell them that they often don’t have to stroll more than two blocks from Plaza de Mayo to see all sorts of cool stuff.  And in fact, some of the places I take my clients for their OTBP Tours are right there on the Plaza. So if you have it in your day planner that you want to go see the Mothers of May at 3:30pm on Thursday, I’d suggest getting to the Plaza by about 2pm-2:15pm just to be safe, because two of the buildings my clients like most are banks.  And banks close at 3pm in Buenos Aires. Banks?  Yes, banks! Lots of Money = Really Cool Architecture . There’s also a church (you knew that there had to be a church), a former convent next door (if you get there between 12pm-2pm, you can eat lunch there), and an almost 100 year-old galeria that now offers you a bird’s eye view of the city. 1st Stop:  Memorial on the front of the Ministerio de Economia building.  

Ministerio de Economia bullet and shrapnel scars by Chance Miller

Ministerio de Economia bullet and shrapnel scars by Chance Miller

WHERE: Due south of the Casa Rosada (Hipolito Yrigoyen 250)… Left of the main entrance near the Subte A subway entrance. WHAT: A plaque commemorating the 39th Anniversary of the Bombing of Plaza de Mayo (June 16, 1955) – the military’s first coup d’etat attempt to overthrow President Juan Perón. WHY:  The façade of the building still exhibits pock marks in the granite from the airplane strafing and bombs that killed more than 300 people on that day. 2nd Stop:  Banco de la Nación Argentina is located directly catacorner (kittycorner?) from the Casa Rosada on the side with the gigantic Néstor painted on the walkway in front of it.  

 Disappeared names on Reconquista next to Banco de la Nación by Chance Miller


Disappeared names on Reconquista next to Banco de la Nación by Chance Miller

WHERE:  NorthWest of the Casa Rosada with its main entrance facing the C.R. WHAT:  A huge bank that was founded in attempt to quell the bickering between provinces over money. WHY:  Previously the location of the original Teatro Colón, when the bank was established on October 26, 1891, the bank actually used the remodeled theater until 1940. DON’T MISS:  Miniature models of both the former Teatro Colón and the current bank, the Alejandro Bustillo art gallery just past that, the massive main room of the bank (where you can sometimes see queues of 40 people or more), and the curly stair wells across from the elevators on the other three exits.  Also, there are plaques along the side on Reconquista remembering those B.N.A. employees who were disappeared during Isabelita Perón’s presidency (2-3 of the names) and the military dictatorship that followed. 3rd Stop:  Basilica de Nuestra Señor de la Merced

Interior of the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Merced by Chance Miller

Interior of the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Merced by Chance Miller

WHERE:  NorthWest corner of Reconquista & Peron (Reconquista 207) WHAT: A basilica in the middle of the banking district that is actually closed on the weekends. WHY:  The outside is nice enough, but the interior has been almost completely renovated in the last 5 years to its former Baroche greatness.  My photo is better than anything you’ll take inside the church, so just enjoy looking around, and don’t worry if you don’t get the same shot. DON’T MISS: The floors (Argentine churches have great tile floors), the altar, the “M” up in the dome.  Also, the “Convento” next door has three restaurants that service an array of tables in its courtyard. 4th Stop: Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires WHERE: Calle San Martin 137 (between Peron & Mitre), across from the Galería Güemes. WHAT:  The oldest bank in the country and second largest, it was founded on September 6, 1822 WHY:  First, once you enter and see the massive multi-colored marble inlay of the 12 Signs of the Zodiac on the floor, you’ll wonder if this is really a bank or the Kabbalah Center of Buenos Aires.  Then you’ll check out the art deco brass work to each side and know that someone has put some money into this place.  Walk through to the main room and take in the massive stained glass to your left. DON’T MISS:  The main banking in the basement.  Take the escalator down from the lobby with the Zodiac Circle and then walk past the helpful ladies into the “waiting area”.  Tell me that it doesn’t feel like you are in an airport or intercity bus terminal. 5th Stop:  Galeria Güemes

Reflexion of Art Deco Dome in the Galeria Güemes by Chance Miller

Reflexion of Art Deco Dome in the Galeria Güemes by Chance Miller

WHERE: Between Calle San Martin 150 & Florida 151. WHAT:  A one block long galeria/“shopping mall” built in the 1910s and restored in the last decade. WHY:  Awesome early art deco influences, especially in the domes in between the elevator lobbies. DON’T MISS:  The brass elevator sculptures, especially in the two toward Florida Street.  Also, a 14th floor observation deck opened up in the last year to get a difficult-to-find bird’s-eye-view of the city.   chanceChance Miller is a tour guide based in Buenos Aires since 2007.

A New A Line

(Photo by casimira parabolica)

After a heartfelt last ride in the city’s antique subway wagons, the historic A line closed down during the Summer for remodeling and maintenance. Today at 8pm a modern new subway opens to the public. Although the picturesque wagons with their wooden seating, dim lights and manually operated doors will be missed, the new wagons will be air-conditioned and will once again allow tourists to stop at some of the city’s most emblematic historic landmarks including Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada, Casa de la Cultura, Café Tortoni and 36 Billares, Congress, Las Violetas and Parque Centenario. Additionally, the stations have been intervened by some of the city’s most talented street artists including Triángulo Dorado, Martín Ron Murales, Dame, Nazza Stencil, Georgina Ciotti, Stencilland and Run Don’t Walk.

 

We Recommend: Buenos Aires Local Tours

(Photo by alq666)

Buenos Aires Local Tours are free tours of Palermo, Abasto, Congreso and Plaza de Mayo and are a great way to get to know the city and the public transport system! Jonathan, the friendly Englishman in charge, takes visitors to both city landmarks and to lesser-known charmers which are often overlooked with the purpose of showing the unseen side of the city. The tour is by foot, public bus and subway so some coins are needed but other than that there is no cost (allthough a well deserved tip is welcome).  The meeting point is the Garibaldi Statue in Plaza Italia at 11 am on Mondays through Saturdays.

We Recommend: A Trip Down the A-Line

(Photo by cyph3r)

The ride begins at the Plaza de Mayo Station, at the A-Line subway that’s at the heart of the historical district, below the emblematic Plaza de Mayo and Casa Rosada. The picturesque wagons that date back to 1913 still preserve the wooden seating, dim lights and manually operated doors immediately taking both the locals and visitors to another time.  The first stop on the historic path is the Peru Station, which was renovated to look like it did in the 1900´s and keeps its ticket booths as well as displaying evocative black and white pictures of the subways path, where once, each station had a different colored mural on its walls so that the illiterate would know when to get off. The Subway continues through Avenida de Mayo where the historical Casa de la Cultura and Traditional Cafes such as Tortoni and Los 36 Billares can be visited. It then crosses the 9 de Julio Avenue, after Avenida de Mayo station, riding into Rivadavia Avenue where you can find the Congress above Congreso station before passing though ghost stations Alberti and Pasco. These two stations were so close to each other that they were closed down in 1951 and it is rumored that when the lights go out it is possible to see passengers from those times still waiting for the train.   Further down the line above Castro Barros Station is gorgeous teahouse Las Violetas, which dates back to 1884 and serves assorted platters of cakes and sandwiches. Finally, close to the Rio de Janeiro Station is Parque Centenario, a large park that was opened in 1910 to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Argentine Independence. The subway then continues up to Primera Junta which was the original end of the circuit and through to the recently added Puan and Carabobo stations. A map of the Buenos Aires subway lines is available here.

 

Our tip: Avoid the subway during rush hours (8-9.30AM and 6-8PM) or as an old local expression says, you will be riding like a sardine in a can!