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buenos aires: the other costanera sur

Buenos Aires, Lola Mora, Las Nereidas, Costanera Sur

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:

Buenos Aires, La Boca, Costanera Sur

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:

Buenos Aires, La Boca, Costanera Sur, Observatorio Naval
Buenos Aires, La Boca, Costanera Sur, Observatorio Naval
Buenos Aires, La Boca, Costanera Sur, Observatorio Naval
Buenos Aires, La Boca, Costanera Sur, Observatorio Naval

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:

Buenos Aires, La Boca, Costanera Sur, ex-Ciudad Deportiva
Buenos Aires, La Boca, Costanera Sur, ex-Ciudad Deportiva

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:

Buenos Aires, La Boca, Costanera Sur, Arturo Dresco
Buenos Aires, La Boca, Costanera Sur, Arturo Dresco

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:

Buenos Aires, La Boca, Costanera Sur, Arturo Dresco
Buenos Aires, La Boca, Costanera Sur, Arturo Dresco

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?

16 thoughts on “buenos aires: the other costanera sur”

  1. Hola Robert, interesante entrada. En la Ciudad Deportiva de La Boca también llegó a funcionar un parque de diversiones con juegos mecánicos. No duró mucho pero yo llegué a ir una vez.

    1. Hola Marce – Gracias por el dato… estos días estuve viendo muchos videos de Buenos Aires y creo que encontré algo con ese parque de diversiones. Vaya a saber donde 🙂 Ahora es un desastre total. Si en algun momento, encontras fotos del parque de diversiones, mandámelas por favor y las subo acá. Abrazo!

  2. Alguna foto debe tener mi viejo, el tema es encontrarlas. Recuerdo que en el colegio regalaban entradas al parque a los alumnos “que se portaban bien”. No sé si alguna vez ligué alguna. Si encuentro alguna foto te mando.

    1. Marce – Asi que te portaste bien? 🙂 Bueno, gracias! Mientras tanto voy a buscar en internet a ver si encuentro algo. Saludos!

      Holly – Definitely. That’s why the plaques are missing as well. Poor Arturo Dresco must be rolling over in his grave 🙂

  3. The leg was most likely to have been hacked off to be sold for scrap metal. Remember when people were stealing traffic lights for the metal to sell?

    1. Hola Mat! Esa nota salió hace poco… raro que no la vi. Gracias! Asi que el misterioso grupo IRSA compró todo por USD 51 millones. Increible. Van a tener que sacar la villa, mandar los camioneros para otro lado y la gran pregunta: que va a pasar con esa fuente onda 70 de maravilla? Tiene que quedar como recuerdo, no? Abrazo!

    1. Thanks very much… Glad you enjoy the posts! I updated the post last night actually because a friend sent me a link to an article in La Nación, mentioning the new project. There’s even a nice before & after graphic. I’m not a big fan of gentrification, but the land should be used for something. Thanks again & saludos!

  4. As a kid, I remember the Aquarium, the bridges and the super modern Confiteria in the 70s.
    I also recall (some boquense can confirm) a huge scandal involving Alberto J. Armando (Boca president for decades ) and Boca Juniors club issuing bonds to build the Ciudad Deportiva that ended up as a big scam.

    1. A scam? There’s a surprise 🙂 I’ve always wondered why Buenos Aires doesn’t have a big aquarium today… I know there’s one in the zoo, but I mean something larger & dedicated just for that use. A long time ago I found plans that Pirovano drew for an aquarium, but I’m assuming it was never built. Anyway, it would be great to find interior photos of the Confitería Neptune. Just have to keep looking! Saludos!

  5. I’ve been told that the bonds issued to finance the Cuidad Deportiva’s stadium were to be cashed on December 28th 1990.

    I wonder if any of the buyers realized at the time that they were supposed to get their money on Fools’ Day (Día de los inocentes)


  6. Pingback: Daily URL - November 15th - Baexpats - Community of Expatriates in Buenos Aires, Argentina

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