This is the tango, colorful and soccer neighborhood par excellence. Old port district of the city, its name is due to its location at the mouth of the Riachuelo in the Río de la Plata. Here you will find the famous Boca Juniors stadium, “La Bombonera”; the Nicolás Avellaneda transport bridge (which was restored in operation in recent years); the Quinquela Martín museum, one of the most famous painters in the country and who portrayed in his paintings life in this neighborhood in the early twentieth century; the pizzeria Banchero and the PROA foundation.
Although without a doubt the icon of the neighborhood that attracts thousands of tourists every day is Caminito, an old passage that once housed the railroad tracks and that today is full of restaurants and tourist shops.
The neighborhood of La Boca owes its name to its geographical location at the mouth of the Riachuelo River in the Río de la Plata. It was used as a natural port over many years, and like every port area it attracted numerous immigrants, mainly Genoese, who gave the neighborhood its current physiognomy.
Immigrants who arrived without money were grouped in Conventillos, a kind of collective house, where an entire family lived in a room. In an attempt to save resources, the houses were painted with the leftover paint that the sailors brought, and as many times the paint was not enough to cover an entire house of the same color, different colors were used to paint them.
The neighborhood recorded its maximum population peak in 1914 with about 76,000 inhabitants in the golden agro-export era, then from the second half of the twentieth century, with the closure of the port, the neighborhood began to experience an exodus, and by 1991 the amount of inhabitants had dropped to 46,277. Unemployment became insecurity, turning the neighborhood from the mouth to one with the highest crime rates in the city, especially in the areas farthest from the tourist side.
If you are going to visit this colorful neighborhood in the south of the city of Buenos Aires, without a doubt you have to go through “Caminito”, a small street in the shape of a curve of only 130 meters, located in front of the stream and that is undoubtedly the icon maximum of the neighborhood.
This street has its peculiar shape because it was built on the old track of a freight railway, which stopped working in 1928. After the lifting of the train tracks, the street became a natural path for the neighbors, but the abandonment gradually seized it and gradually became an open-air dump. During the 1950s, a group of neighbors, among which was the well-known painter from Benito Quinquela Martín, decided to recover this street and used all their inventiveness and creativity to create a museum street, with the name given by the Tango, “Caminito”.
Caminito recreates in its maximum expression the typical architecture of the neighborhood, where the houses were made of wood and veneers painted with bright colors, coming from the port, giving the neighborhood such a picturesque and charming appearance.
The Nicolás Avellaneda Transporter bridge is one of the few bridges of this type that survive in the world. This iron mole was inaugurated in 1914 and was in operation until 1960. Unlike a traditional mobile bridge, this type of transporters has a fixed high structure and what moves is a platform on which four cars with their horses and about 30 people can be transported simultaneously. Its internal mechanics was restored a few years ago, however the bridge is still not open to the public, although we can enjoy its beautiful industrial from both sides of the stream.
La Boca is a neighborhood where art is breathed at every step, and much of this legacy we owe to Benito Quinquela Martín, a plastic artist and neighbor, who reflected in his works perfectly the tasks of the port and the daily life of his people. His work was recognized worldwide, becoming one of the most important painters in Argentina.
Today a museum remembers his work, on land donated by the same artist for the construction of a school and a museum. There are a lot of works by Quinquela Martín himself, in addition to several local artists, offering visitors a panorama of Argentine art from the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century.