Presidential Backbone – 2nd Vertebra

2010.May.02 Sunday · 1 comment

in Life

Picking up where I left off along my Av. Rivadavia wander back at Suipacha and Plaza Arlt… our next segment runs from there to the Plaza de los Dos Congresos, usually just referred to in the singular as Plaza Congreso.

Back of the National Tango Academy

As I mentioned in the previous post, much of this section of Rivadavia, because it parallels the parade route of Av. de Mayo, consists of the backs of well-known buildings. In this case, the building at #830 that houses both the famed Café Tortoni and the Academia Nacional de Tango. On the other hand, the Academy also hosts the Museo Mundial de Tango (also reviewed in the above link), which is entered from this side.

Crossing Av. 9 de Julio

Another block further on and I reach the wide stretch of Av. 9 de Julio.

9 de Julio statues

At this particular crossing point, there are two statues that I didn’t talk about in my 9 de Julio walk. Situated in the pretty little Plazoleta de Misiones are the figures of La Sabiduria and La Virtud – Wisdom and Virtue – by sculptor Carlos Digón.

Museo del Jamon

I’ve always been curious about the Museo del Jamón, found on the corner after crossing the avenue. It’s not really a museum, but a restaurant with a hostel above it, and looking at the menu posted, while there is certainly a selection of hams available, in reality, different prosciuttos, they don’t seem to be the focus of the overall dining experience. Perhaps one day….

UIA

At #1160, the pretty building that is the backside of the Unión Industrial Argentina, essentially a group of business owners that banded together – the union’s purpose was to represent the interests of manufacturers before the state – essentially a lobbying organization. During the 1940s it became one of the leading opponents of Juan Perón’s rise to power and against the military dictatorship, seeing him as a demagogue.

Casa Rivadavia

Despite the fancy looking moniker of “Casa Rivadavia” on this building, it doesn’t seem to be, nor have been, anything of great import. It’s an office building as best I can tell, but I liked the doors.

Rivadavia 1202

The building at 1202 was built by Liberato di Gennaro, grandfather to Patricia Funes, a famous Argentine historian, as the family home. Not bad digs…. Now an apartment building with stores on the ground floor.

Street view

In this section of the avenue, Rivadavia becomes fairly commercial, and continues that way for a long stretch. Most of this particular part consists of 3-4 story buildings with apartments, offices, stores, etc.

Entering Plaza de los Dos Congresos

Entering the area that is the Plaza de los Dos Congresos, first to the right is the small tree-lined Plaza Lorea, named after Spanish cabinet-maker Isidro Lorea, and fronting onto the Teatro Liceo. Beyond that on the right, the imposing building at 1501 was, as best I can tell, an office building that housed a famous pharmacy, La Estrella, on its ground floor, and later became the offices of the CGT, or Confederación General del Trabajo, which seems to be pretty much the opposite of the UIA mentioned above – this being a group of socialist and union leaders who were backers of Perón. The building now houses the Peruvian consulate.

Plaza de los Dos Congresos

The Plaza de los Dos Congresos, with the main Congress building in the far background and the Senate building off to the left.

Statue of Jose Manuel Estrada

To the left is a statue of Argentine lawyer, writer, and politician José Manuel Estrada, who was a staunch defender of Catholic thought and one of the leaders in the movement against secularizing the government.

A bit of graffiti

To the right, a bit of graffiti.

Tamal

By now famished from all my wandering, after all it had been a solid 15 blocks or so since my start back by the Casa Rosada, I stopped and bought a tamal from a Peruvian street vendor in the Plaza Lorea there at the corner. Not bad, in fact, one of the better tamales I’ve had in Buenos Aires, and really spicy sauce!

Congreso

The Congreso building itself.

Designed by the Italian architect Vittorio Meano and completed by Argentine architect Julio Dormal, the building was under construction between 1898 and 1906. Inaugurated that year, its aesthetic details were not completed until 1946. Local sculptor Lola Mora graced the interior halls and exterior alike with numerous allegorical bronzes. As time went by, the building proved too small for its purpose, and in 1974 the construction of the Annex, which now holds the Deputies’ offices, was started.

Congreso

Details on the rooftop of the Congreso.

Congreso

More details….

Loteria Nacional

At 1745, off to the right, the headquarters of the National Lottery, built in 1920. Back in 1942 it was the site of an infamous lottery scandal referred to as el escándalo de los niños cantores in which the children who pulled the lottery balls and called them out had hidden away some extra false balls, then as a group, bought a lottery ticket and then proceeded to pull out the balls that had them win a prize of more than 300,000 pesos. The next day local paper Critica denounced the fraud and demanded a parliamentary investigation which resulted in the tracking down, arrest, and sentencing of the group of youngsters to 3-4 years in jail, and, the recuperation of all the money. The building is notable for the two large bronze figures atop who now and again strike the bell – at one time, I gather, to strike the hour, but it now seems somewhat random.

Confiteria Molino building

I’ve mentioned this building before, the former site of the Confitería Molino. The rumor mill, pun intended, has it that someone has finally taken on the renovation of this property and that we shall see something new in the building within the next couple of years.

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