The Unitarian Return – Briefly

2012.Aug.26 Sunday · 3 comments

in Life

It’s been eons since my last little head of state walking tour, where I ended up with Manuel Dorrego being executed by his childhood friend Juan Lavalle. I actually started walking Lavalle street shortly thereafter – all the way back in December of last year – though never completed the walk, nor wrote it up. So, here we are, eight months on, and I think it’s about time.

Lavalle was part of the Unitarian faction, the party of Bernardino Rivadavia (whose eponymous avenue took eight posts to cover the 11.5km). By executing Dorrego, he installed himself in power on December 13, 1828, and served a whole eight months until August 26, 1829. He’d had a contentious career, serving under a series of different military generals, and often finding himself cast to the side when he disagreed with their policies. But, he’d distinguished himself sufficiently to not find himself in exile, and, at least on occasion, to find himself in charge of one campaign or another. Never popular, his assumption of the BA Governorship, ostensibly making him the leader of Argentina, was opposed by virtually every provincial governor in the country, and many actively participated in maneuvers to have him removed from office – successfully, as it turned out.

After being forced out of the governorship, he was one of the leaders of a several pronged and poorly organized attack against General de Rosas, leader of the Federalists. His group, reduced to about 200 men, was forced on the run to the northern province of Jujuy, where he was “accidentally” shot by a group of his own faction as he stayed in a house that they claimed they believed was the local headquarters of the Federalists. In the end, his ignominious fate was to have his remains carried off by his men to Bolivia, afraid that if they left him behind it would be desecrated by his enemies. Ironically, they ended up doing the same when they felt they could no longer carry along his decomposing body with them, and ended up boiling him to remove all the remaining flesh and organs, and packing up his bones which they eventually returned with to Buenos Aires – those bones are now buried in Recoleta Cemetery.

The street named after him begins in the barrio of San Nicolás, nearly at Puerto Madero, and stretches, initially as a pedestrian walkway and further along as a street, and stretches to a point that is basically the intersection of the barrios of Palermo, Almagro and Villa Crespo, joining at a corner with Av. Cordoba and Estado de Israel.

Luna Park

The base of the street starts at the famed Luna Park, an 8,300 seat arena built between 1931 and 1934 on the site of a former amusement park of the same name. Primarily a space for sporting events (boxing in particular), it’s also a common spot for popular concerts. In popular lore, it’s cited as the spot at which Juan Perón and Evita first met.

Plaza Roma

Across the street is the small Plaza Roma, filled with these beautiful goma trees. I love these.

Start of Lavalle street

The street itself starts as a pedestrian walkway with these steps leading up from Av. Alem.

Bunge y Born

The steps are flanked by two buildings of note. To the right, the rear entrance of the Bunge y Born building, that I mentioned in my 25 de Mayo walk.

Edificio Houlder

And likewise, from the same linked walk, this is the rear of the Edificio Houlder, which for a time was the headquarters of Banco Medefin (still engraved over this side’s entrance), and is now an office building.

Lavalle street

The street continues as a pedestrian walkway from the top of the steps.

Laboratorios Experimentales

This nondescript building at #332 is the Laboratorios Experimentales. I’m not clear if this is a private or government research lab, but its focus seems to be on pharmaceutical endocrinology experiments using live animals.

Edificio Argentino

At the corner of San Martin is the Edificio Argentino, now an office building with a particularly desirable office that is located in the corner tower, referred to as the Torre Lavalle. Beyond that I haven’t found any details on the history of the building.

Regis Hotel

At the corner of Esmeralda is the Regis Orho Hotel, an historic three-star hotel. I just thought the building is interesting.

Lavalle at 9 de Julio

At the crossing of the wide Av. 9 de Julio the pedestrian walkway ends. On the other side of the avenue the street picks up for vehicle traffic.

Petit Colon

A block further on the space opens up into the multi-block-square Plaza Lavalle, deserving of an entire post to itself. It started pouring rain, so I ducked into the historic Petit Colon cafe…

Petit Colon

…where I indulged in a turkey and salsa golf pizza – a first for me – and surprisingly quite good. The cafe is currently closed for refurbishment.

Plaza Lavalle

A look at one corner of the Plaza Lavalle.

Escuela Presidente Roca

Several important buildings flank this part of the plaza, including the Escuela Presidente Roca. Often, for some reason, mistaken by first time visitors for the Teatro Colón, this Greek Temple styled building was constructed in 1904. Polite requests apparently often garner a look at the interior courtyard and the frescos that adorn the interior ceilings. Had I known….

Ballet Nacional sculpture

One of my favorite statues in the plaza, the Ballet Nacional, designed by sculptor and professor Carlos de la Carcova, and surrounded by a “dancing fountain” that I’ve never seen working, designed by local architect Ezequiel Cerrato.

Teatro Colon

And, not a bad place to end this post, with the Teatro Colón itself. See – I don’t think it looks all that much like the school above….

For those who read Spanish there’s an interesting history of the Centro part of Calle Lavalle here.

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