8.1 Argentina : Puerto Madero, Argentina or Pearl District, Portland?

Puerto Madero is Buenos Aires' Barrio Mas Joven (= youngest neighborhood) and just proudly celebrated it's 20th Birthday. For those of you reading this in a place like Palm Desert, California (a master-planned community created on a patch of sand in the middle of nowhere, with no natural source of water, and wasn't officially a city until the 1980's) that is probably not that interesting.

But to put this in perspective, the city of Buenos Aires was founded in 1536. That's 200 years before the Declaration of Independence was even written. Buenos Aires is real old. I could go on endlessly about how beautiful the architecture is here; its often called "The Paris of South of America" because of the strong french influences on design. I spend nearly all day with my neck craned upwards as we walk down the streets and the majority of the buildings constructed when Buenos Aires was founded still remain.

Part of this is due to the waxing and waning of the Argentinian Economy (Argentina started the 20th century as one of the wealthiest nations in the world and finished it in the midst of an economic meltdown). But Argentinians also lack the obsession with 'new' that has buildings blown up with dynamite every 20 years in other major cities. The oldest buildings aren't relics; they are still living parts of the city, and they are still lived in. If cities were women Buenos Aires is the Helen Mirren - the definition of "aging gracefully". Modernity is effortlessly integrated here with out sacrificing the reality of the cities history.

Which is why a barrio like Puerto Madero is so surprising. It was created on the water front of the Rio de Plata, an area once reserved for industrial shipping and production. It experienced a chic transformation in the 1990's, kind of like Manhattan's Meatpacking District. As Eli and I walked the perfectly landscaped streets I felt like the reverse of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz; like I was sucked up in a tornado and delivered home. It looks identical to the neighborhood covered in condos that borders the river in Portland.

I can't deny that it is a beautiful place, and the architecture here is fresh but not overly done. And who doesn't love flowering trees or art-deco coffee shops? But I think I would pick a studio apartments outfitted with gargoyles and iron domes any day.


  1. um... wow. love this place! and love you/miss you <3

  2. that's exactly what my fiance and I were thinking when we were in Puerto Madero! It was very Pearl District-like! Very lovely place, very different from the rest of the city!


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