buenos aires

housing for the masses: barrio cafferata, 1921

Barrio Cafferata, Parque Chacabuco, Buenos Aires, vivienda social, housing project, 1921

Barrio Cafferata, 1921 • Parque Chacabuco
Avenida José M. Moreno & Salas

For all the private donations & construction projects I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the federal Comisión Nacional de Casas Baratas (CNCB) had only one building complete by 1920. Large tracts of land purchased by the government sat empty while legislators debated on the best (& most affordable) way to build housing projects. I’m not sure whether it was embarrassment at their years of inaction or merely a decision to experiment, but the early 1920’s were a busy time for the CNCB.

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housing for the masses: microbarrio la colonia, 1914

Microbarrio La Colonia, 1914 • Parque Patricios
Cachí & José A. Cortejarena

Initially I hadn’t planned on writing about this particular housing project, but Friday I spent a couple hours at the Instituto Histórico & found an article about it written by their staff in 1987. Since there is relatively little info anywhere else about this, I thought I’d post it for anyone who might be interested.

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housing for the masses: casa chorizo

Buenos Aires, casa chorizo, Parque Chas

Of the many different solutions proposed & built to solve the Argentine housing crisis, it’s easy to forget how innovative they really were. We’re used to seeing modern versions as apartment complexes & condominiums. Big deal. But it was the first time that they had ever been built in Argentina. One hundred years ago in Buenos Aires, none of those types of living quarters existed. Zero.

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housing for the masses: microbarrio monseñor espinosa, 1923

Microbarrio Monseñor Espinosa, 1923 • Barracas
Perdriel & California

Contrasting greatly with the previous complex, these semi-detached chalets are like a little piece of paradise. Also built with fundraising money from the Unión Popular Católica Argentina, land was donated by the Pereyra Iraola & Herrera Vega families. Gardens cut through 60 units in a cross shape, & note that this is not the size of a city block… but it’s about half of an overly large block. In fact, the odd shape is due to following the diagonal line of the existing layout. Designed by Carlos Cucullu, it has been wonderfully maintained & I would love to live there.

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housing for the masses: casa colectiva valentín alsina, 1919

Casa Colectiva Valentín Alsina, 1919 • Parque Patricios
Avenida Caseros & 24 de Noviembre

Inspired by the action of Azucena Butteler, numerous private & public schemes were proposed to acquire funds needed for housing projects. Some of the proposals were: government allocations directly controlled by Congress, a direct tax on Jockey Club members, or loans for low-income government employees underwritten by the Central Bank. It was finally decided that 75% of the Jockey Club’s profits from Thursday horse races were to be donated to a general housing construction fund. Money began to flow in, but how should the government use it?

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housing for the masses: microbarrio san vicente de paul, 1912

Buenos Aires, Microbarrio San Vicente de Paul, 1912, Nueva Pompeya

Microbarrio San Vicente de Paul, 1912 • Nueva Pompeya Cachí & Traful

Social assistance in Argentina was not limited to private donations like that of Azucena Butteler. One important group did as much as all other organizations combined —the Catholic church. Under the guidance of the Unión Popular Católica Argentina, nationwide fundraising drives gave Catholic organizations lots of cash to assist the poor. The government highly valued their contribution, mainly administered by women’s groups.

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housing for the masses: barrio butteler, 1910

One of the things that has always impressed me about Argentina is their commitment to social welfare. Before the onslaught of comments to the contrary, hear me out. Without question, you can find lots of examples of the oligarchy looking out for itself, plenty of internal conflicts that jeopardized social welfare, & certainly a lot of work left to be done at present. But the average citizen’s standard of living was often a big concern during 20th-century in Argentina.

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buenos aires: supermarket price comparison

Argentina, Buenos Aires, Disco, supermercado, supermarket

Many people are complaining about rising prices on basic food items. At the grocery store in mid-February, a woman told me she thought Argentines were cowards for putting up with price increases… an interesting opinion. I’m not sure what she would do, but my idea is to stick with a group of basic food products & monitor prices at the three largest chain supermarkets over the next few weeks. One of the first big news stories after devaluation was the rise of bread prices by 30%. Now the milk industry is following suit.

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