History of La Plata
The city of La Plata, Argentina is the capital city of the province of Buenos Aires. After Buenos Aires became the capital city for the country in 1880, the state needed a new capital. The location of the city was chosen by the provincial governor Dardo Rocha in April of 1880. La Plata was officially founded on November 19, 1882.
La Plata is a "planned" city. It was completely designed, from its inception, to have the form that it maintains until today. The City of La Plata is known as the City of the Diagonals (Ciudad de las Diagonales). The city has a square shape that is turned 45 degrees giving it the appearance of a baseball diamond when looking at it on a map. Around the perimeter of the city is a large divided avenue that has a continuous park separating the lanes of traffic.
During the years of 1952 to 1955 the city was renamed Eva PerÃ³n City (Ciudad de Eva PerÃ³n). President Juan PerÃ³n renamed the city in honor of his wife, Eva PerÃ³n, after her death in 1952. He was overthrown as president and kicked out of the country in 1955. At that time the name of the city reverted to La Plata.
Because the city was to be a planned city, Governor Dardo Rocha needed to hire an architect. Architect and urban planner Peter Benoit was brought in to plan out the city. Benoit brought his own experience to the design of the city, but he also allowed input from others. The city reflects the various styles of architecture in the different buildings.
The cathedral is designed in High Gothic style with its twin spires reaching more than 360 feet in the air. The Governor's Palace has an Italian styling and City Hall is German. These different influences reflect the many immigrant groups who were instrumental in the founding of the city.
Along with the main diamond shape with parallel roads, there are diagonal streets that criss-cross the city. The two main diagonals come together in the middle of the city at Plaza Moreno between the Cathedral and City Hall. The design of the parallel and diagonal streets create miniature versions of the city as a whole. There are parks or plazas every six blocks. This provides a green space for residents never more than a few blocks away in any direction.
From the very founding of the city there were several buildings and locations planned for the people of La Plata. There is a natural history museum and zoo located near one another in the north east section of the city. A research observatory was built in 1882 and is still used today with opportunities for the public to visit. The National University of La Plata has four campuses. There are also three other universities in the city.
The city of La Plata has been shaped and influenced by many different people groups through its history. This is seen in all of Argentina, but especially so in the cities of Buenos Aires and La Plata.
There was strong European immigration starting in 1880 into Argentina. Immigration was so influential that it is said that more than 60% of the population in the province of Buenos Aires were immigrants. This statistic held true for more than 70 years. In 1895 the population of the country of Argentina was 4 million people. Because of immigration the population had doubled by 1914, just 20 years later. Immigration did not stop and Argentina was again doubled in size by 1947 to 15.8 million people.
The Spanish community has strongly influenced the city with the Spanish Hospital (Hospital EspaÃ±a). La Plata is less than 40 miles from the city of Buenos Aires where many countries have their embassies. However, the country of Spain considers the Spanish community in La Plata to be of enough importance to have a consulate in the city.
Italy too maintains a consulate in the city of La Plata. La Plata is home to the Italian School and Italian Hospital. It is estimated that 45% of all immigrants in the country of Argentina are from Italy. Approximately 60% of the total population of the country today have an Italian heritage. There is a strong Italian influence in the city of La Plata.
There are immigrant communities in the city of La Plata from several Arabic countries. The largest groups are from Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Most are Christians from Orthodox or Catholic backgrounds. There are some Arabic Jews and Muslims, but their numbers are a small percentage. One of the country's presidents was of Syrian descent, Carlos Menem.
While the country of Germany has a large number of immigrants into Argentina, there are also immigrants from other German-speaking countries. There are immigrant groups in La Plata from Austria, Switzerland and Volga Germans (from a certain region in Russia). There are large German-speaking communities in many parts of the country.
Like immigration from Arabic countries and German-speaking countries, the Jews in La Plata are not all from one country. There are several Jewish institutions and organizations in the city including schools, a synagogue and a library. Immigration of Jews into Argentina date back to the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834), before Argentina was a country. The first group of Jews arrived before 1500 after fleeing from religious persecution, but non-existent by the mid-1800s when the next wave of immigration began. Many Jews today are small and large business owners.
The climate in La Plata is mild. The summers are humid with average daytime temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees. The average humidity is 78% which makes the summers feel hotter, and the winters feel colder. Winter temperatures average around 45 degrees.
Extreme weather is rare. The last snowfall in the city happened in 2007. The snowfall previous to that was in 1918. While the city lies in a potential earthquake zone, the last one took place in 1888.
La Plata is a pleasant city to visit any time of year. There are often festivals and exhibitions showing off some of the traditions of the city and the country. Because of its status as the provincial capital, even though it is right next to Buenos Aires, there are plenty of things to do in the city. Cultural events take place around the city each week.