Buenos Aires, Argentina City History

Buenos Aires, Argentina City History

Latin America

The city was first founded in 1536. On February 3 of this year, the Spanish conqueror Pedro de Mendoza built a settlement on the Río de la Plata under the name of Puerto de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre. Due to food shortages, diseases and repeated attacks by the Querandí Indians, the settlement had to be abandoned in 1541.

The second settlement did not take place until 1580. The explorer Juan de Garay founded the settlement again on June 11, this time under the name Ciudad de la Santísima Trinidad y Puerto Santa María del Buen Ayre. The current city name Buenos Aires developed from this designation.

In 1776 the Spanish viceroyalty Río de La Plata was founded and Buenos Aires was declared its capital. The previously relatively insignificant and only moderately growing city now developed into an important administrative and commercial center of South America. By 1800 the population grew to around 40,000.

On May 25, 1810, the viceroy Baltazar Hidalgo de Cisneros y la Torre was expelled from Buenos Aires and power was transferred to an open city council (cabildo abierto). In the following years the city was the center of Argentina’s independence movement. On July 9, 1816, the independence of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata was proclaimed, but it was overshadowed by conflicts between supporters of two political currents. The Unitaros advocated a centralized state with the powerful capital Buenos Aires, while the Federales advocated a federal state with extensive regional autonomies.

The abolition of trade restrictions brought economic upswing and growth to the city on the Río de la Plata in the period that followed. Since the Spanish crown no longer supported the cities in the Argentinean interior due to independence from Spain, the financial power of Buenos Aires grew with its Atlantic port, which is extremely important for imports and exports. The name Porteños (from Spanish “puerto” = port) for the residents of Buenos Aires, which is still used today, comes from this time.

In 1829 the Federalista Juan Manuel de Rosas took power over the young republic and rose to dictator. After his military defeat in 1852, subsequent governments opened Buenos Aires to European immigrants. The result was an increase in the population, which in 1860 was close to 100,000.

After several conflicts between the Argentine provinces, short for BSAS by Abbreviationfinder, Buenos Aires was declared the capital of the country in 1880. Until the First World War, the massive influx of the European population continued and caused the city to grow. In 1914, the city was home to over 1.5 million people, one in two born outside of Argentina. Most of the immigrants, around 80 percent, came from Spain and Italy; But masses of people from other European countries also moved into the city. Immigration was brought about by steady economic growth in the second half of the 19th century. During this period of booming economy and rapid population growth, extensive public and private construction projects took place, which contributed to Buenos Aires becoming the modern city.

In the first half of the 20th century, growth and modernization continued and combined with the progressive industrialization of the city. In the 1930s, in the course of industrialization, there was a massive influx of Argentine people from other parts of the country who were looking for better living conditions. The newcomers mainly settled in the suburbs that arose around the city and grew rapidly. The growth continued and by the 1970s around one third of the Argentine population was living in Buenos Aires or the immediate vicinity.

Shortly after the start of the first waves of arrests carried out by the military dictatorship (1976-1983), the women of the Plaza de Mayo began to demonstrate in the main square against the “disappearances” of their sons and husbands. Even today, more than 20 years after the end of the dictatorship, they meet regularly to draw attention to the fate of those who, in some cases, have still disappeared.

After the end of military rule in 1983, the new democratic government of Argentina pursued a neoliberal economic policy that led to strong economic growth. The consequences were felt in Buenos Aires, where mainly new high-rise buildings were being built. Between 1998 and 2002 Argentina found itself in an unprecedented economic crisis. The financial system collapsed, unemployment rose to over 20% and the poverty rate rose to 57%. In Buenos Aires there were massive, sometimes violent, demonstrations by the discontented population.

Although the worst part of the crisis is now over, the living conditions of many people in Buenos Aires are still relatively poor.

Excursions in the area

Isla Martín García
The island in the Río de la Plata can be reached by boat from the small town of Tigre. Lush nature has spread out on the former military base, inviting you to go on long hikes.

San Antonio de Areco

The small village from the 18th century is located 115 kilometers northwest of Buenos Aires and is considered the heart of the “gaucho culture”. In November, on the Día de la Tradición, the country’s largest festival of the Argentine cowboys takes place here. San Antonio de Areco is a popular tourist destination and can be easily reached by bus from Buenos Aires.


The small town with 40,000 residents is one of the most popular destinations for “porteños” and tourists. It is located 29 kilometers northwest of Buenos Aires on the banks of the Río Luján in the branched canal system of the delta of the Río Tigre. There is a fruit and handicraft market in the city. Various companies offer motorboat tours on the river delta.

Buenos Aires, Argentina City History