Most people associate the Costanera Sur with choripan & a wonderful sculpture by Lola Mora. Todo bien. But there’s actually more of the old public bathing area which extends into La Boca. A dead-end on the map, I’ve always to explore that corner of Buenos Aires. Today was the day.
There’s no dividing line, but leaving the expensive development of Puerto Madero is very apparent. Semis use Avenida España as a parking lot & campground. Some truckers were busy cooking lunch when I walked by while others were having maté & chatting. A couple families strolled by & some joggers whizzed past, but the whole area is really nothing more than a wasteland. However, fenced off just behind the Museum of Reproductions & Comparative Sculpture, hides a Moorish-inspired building:
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Art Deco Observatorio Naval was in such good condition. Symbols of the zodiac decorate the door & two figures with planet/telescope designs guard the entrance. Now I know where they keep the official time for Argentina:
Weaving through the parked trucks to the opposite side of the street, I found something I’d been meaning to take photos of for years. Completely forgot it was here: the former Ciudad Deportiva of the Boca Juniors team. An entire complex consisting of islands, connected by walkways & bridges, was built to be the training area for the soccer team. Even a new stadium was projected.
Construction took place in the 1960’s & 70’s… they even added an aquarium & a café. Prior to the Reserva Ecológica, the Ciudad Deportiva represents the first major attempt to make use of the extensive coastline in Buenos Aires for something other than a port. But politics & hyperinflation prevented the completion of the project. Without maintenance, nature slowly reclaimed the site. Sold in 1992 (not sure who the buyer was), the Ciudad Deportiva was a huge failure… but fascinating to see. There’s even a villa miseria alongside:
For more info, there’s a great post in Spanish on the Imborrable Boca blog or jump to the 30 second mark in the following home video:
Walking a bit further, an Arturo Dresco sculpture came into view. The 1936 Monumento a España was one of his most important works & no one sees it because of its location. Such a shame. Worse is the condition of the sculpture… right away I noticed that all the plaques had been stolen. So they’ve been melted for some quick cash & are gone forever. Trash & pigeons were everywhere. Is this any way to treat Isabel La Católica, Christopher Colombus & the motherland? Amazing:
More horror was to come. As I circled the monument & examined each relief, I said out loud to myself: “Oh, no… this guy’s been amputated!” Any bit of bronze that could be hacked off was missing. Goodbye, leg. I’ve witnessed lots of neglect in Buenos Aires, but this takes the cake. The city should move this into a warehouse before even more damage is done:
I wonder if any of that Puerto Madero cash will eventually make its way to this forgotten corner of Buenos Aires.
Update (06 Nov 2011): That was quick. I love it when readers respond with excellent info.
First, Marcelo told me that the site was used as an amusement park in the 1970’s… he knows because he was there. Good performance in school earned him a free ticket. Love it. Then Mat sent me a link from La Nación. In 1991, a consortium called Santa María del Plata purchased the area for USD 22 million with the idea of making it a residential complex. They obviously didn’t hold out long enough because they sold the Ciudad Deportiva two years later for USD 51 million. Not a bad profit, but imagine what it would be worth today given that Puerto Madero has blossomed.
My main concern: what will happen to the fantastic 1970’s fountain?