Avenida de Mayo

Adjacent to the Municipal Palace, the headquarters of the newspaper La Prensa was inaugurated in 1898, located at Av. de Mayo 575. At the time, it became the most luxurious newspaper headquarters in the world. It is currently the House of Culture of the GCBA.

Avenida de Mayo was the first avenue that the City of Buenos Aires had and is the backbone of the historic and civic center of the city. It connects the historic Plaza de Mayo with the Plaza del Congreso, in an extension of ten blocks. It begins on Bolívar Street and runs from east to west between the Hipólito Yrigoyen and Rivadavia Avenues. Its creation was designed by the Italian architect Juan Antonio Buschiazzo, who as director of the Department of Public Works of the Municipality, under the mayor of Torcuato de Alvear, planned reforms and constructions to beautify the city of Buenos Aires. Those were times when construction welcomed new techniques and elements with open arms, such as the use of iron, elevators and the consolidation of electric lighting, among others.


At the time, the planning was highly debated and resisted as it required the expropriation and demolition of buildings belonging to high society, in addition to being considered an extremely expensive project. The construction of Avenida de Mayo was inspired by the boulevards of Paris, but the large flow of Spanish immigration impregnated its Hispanic character by becoming populated with zarzuela theaters, cafes similar to those in Madrid, athenaeums, literary associations and clubs, influencing its architecture. , which is why it is often compared to Madrid's Gran Vía.


To carry it out, in 1888, all the blocks that went from Bolívar to Entre Ríos, between Rivadavia and Hipólito Yrigoyen, were demolished, a situation that was regulated with a law of 1885, the year in which the expropriation trials began. For this project, the decision was made to demolish three arches of the Town Hall and part of the old Municipality building. It also forced the demolition of several important buildings, among which we can highlight the Presbyterian Temple on Piedras Street (moved to its current location at Av. Belgrano 579) and the neo-Moorish building of the Mercado Modelo that ran from the current Sáenz Peña. to San José.


Since the beginning of the 20th century, it became the wonderful setting for public life, and the fronts of its sophisticated buildings in art nouveau, neoclassical and eclectic styles constituted the framework for receiving illustrious foreign visitors. It is, without a doubt, the great urban example of the prosperity of Argentina at that time.


The construction of the first academic buildings was an eloquent testimony of the influence of French architecture. Thanks to new techniques that used reinforced concrete and iron beams, the buildings were taller and more massive; and decisively changed the appearance of the old city center. However, several of those precepts were lost, in part, due to the influence of property in the hands of individuals and architects who designed works with more flexible rules, which turned the avenue into a mosaic of styles.


At the time of its inauguration, on July 9, 1894, Avenida de Mayo became the main commercial street of the city, since a good part of the commerce that was displayed on Victoria Street (current Hipólito Yrigoyen), moved to the new one. avenue. The main stores, confectioneries and hotels of the city were installed there, and in 1893 also the former Municipal Palace, located at Bolivar 1 and Av. de Mayo 525, which was the work of the engineer Juan M. Cagnoni.

Arriving at the corner of Perú (Av. de Mayo 600) was the building of the “A la Ciudad de London” store, an establishment that was the first “European-style” store in the city. The new building on the avenue was completed around 1896 but lasted only a few years since a fire destroyed it in 1910.

Another example of the grandiloquence of these constructions on Avenida de Mayo is the Palacio Barolo, located at Av. De Mayo 1370. It was designed by the Italian architect Mario Palanti, also the architect of his “twin” Palacio Salvo in Montevideo and the Hotel Castelar. The design was at the request of textile businessman Luis Barolo. Between July 7, 1923, the date of its inauguration, and 1935, it was the tallest building in the city. Currently, at the top there is a lighthouse with a 5000 watt lamp, since it was valued in 2010 and declared "Bicentennial Lighthouse." The Barolo is part of trends such as art nouveau or art deco, but it is actually a unique piece of its kind, made in a style cultivated by Palanti. Its owner had in mind to build it to use three floors and then rent the others. Today, it functions as an office building (it has more than 300). In 1997 this building was declared a National Historic Monument.

The first hotel establishment on the avenue was the Gran Hotel España/Astoria (Av. De Mayo 930) by Javier Laurenz from Navarre and built by the Spanish engineer José Arnavat. It was inaugurated in 1897. Today it is the headquarters of the Gastronomic Union. In one of the first photos of the building, Manuel Quemada, who was a businessman closely related to the Spanish community, appears as the owner.

In the same year, the Chacabuco Mansions Hotel was inaugurated, at Av. De Mayo 748. It operated between 1897 and 1910 in an academic building designed by the German Adolfo Büttner, for the English businessman G.W. Drabble, pioneer of the export of frozen meat, director of railway companies and president of the Bank of London and Río de la Plata. His great size, height and "square" appearance earned him the nickname Drabble Cube.

Among other hotels that were installed on the avenue were: the Ritz Hotel on Av. De Mayo 1111 and Lima. It was also designed by the Italian architect Juan Antonio Buschiazzo in 1893. It currently operates as a two-star hotel.

Also, on Av. De Mayo, there is the building of the Ex Hotel Metropole on the corner of Av. de Mayo 1207 and Salta. It was one of the first large hotels in Buenos Aires, opened in 1900, and is currently occupied by homes and offices.

The Hotel Chile, at Av. De Mayo 1297, was designed by architect Louis Dubois in 1904 and opened in 1906. It was originally called Hotel Lutecia, and it was one of the greatest representatives of the Art Nouveau style. The worst moment of the Hotel Chile occurred on August 4, 1988, when a fire broke out on the fourth floor, spreading to the mansard and the dome. The hotel was restored in 2018 when, from the Ministry of Environment and Public Space of the City Government, they carried out a 3D reconstruction and reinforced the structure to be able to support the restoration of the dome. On the ground floor of the Hotel Chile, the Plaza España restaurant operated for years, one of several specializing in Spanish cuisine on this traditional stretch of Avenida de Mayo.

The Hotel París located at Av. De Mayo 1161 operated between 1904 and 1934, when it was transformed into a rental house and offices. It is the work of the Italian architect Gerónimo Agostini. The emblematic Plaza Asturias restaurant operates on the ground floor.

The building of the former Majestic Hotel, on the corner of Av. De Mayo 1301 and Santiago del Estero, was built in 1906 and inaugurated in 1909. Its authors were Federico Collivadino and Ítalo Benedetti. In its origins, it was one of the most luxurious in the city. In 1931 the building remained in the hands of the State, which assigned it to the DGI/AFIP. It has recently been transferred by the AABE (State Property Administration Agency) to the National Parks Administration to constitute the Headquarters of the Headquarters.

In 1929, the Hotel Castelar building (Av. De Mayo 1152) was built, perhaps the most notable of all. The building was also designed by the Italian architect Mario Palanti, and built by the engineer José Pizone. In 1933 it had its most illustrious guest, the Spanish writer Federico García Lorca, who stayed in the establishment until March 1934. In 2003, his room was decorated by the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, in tribute to the historic visitor. . The “Signo” club operated in the basement of the building, very popular with the wealthiest Buenos Aires classes, where Norah Lange, Oliverio Girondo and Alfonsina Storni were regulars. There they entertained García Lorca, on the occasion of the premiere of his work Blood Wedding.

Also notable is Café Tortoni, located at Av. De Mayo 825. It is the most representative and prominent, it was the oldest café in Buenos Aires, opened in 1858, and has operated since 1880 at the current site, although its entrance was located above Rivadavia Street. Only in 1898 was the main entrance built on Av. De Mayo, inaugurated in 1894. The façade was made by the architect Alejandro Christophersen. It was the first bar in the city to place chairs and tables on the sidewalks.

Regarding theaters, on Av. De Mayo 1222 is the Teatro Avenida de Buenos Aires, inaugurated in 1908. It has been the traditional headquarters of Spanish companies, zarzuela, theater and opera. It was the work of engineers C. Férnandez Poblet and Alejandro Ortúzar, built for the brothers Juan and Joaquín Cordeu, and managed by the Portuguese theater entrepreneur Faustino Da Rosa. He was assigned to the Buenos Aires zarzuela since 1910 with the performance for the centenary of Argentine independence with "La verbena de la Paloma" directed by its author Tomás Bretón and with the presence of the Infanta Isabel de Borbón y Borbón.

In 1922, the actress Lola Membrives performed “La malquerida” and “The created interests” with the author himself, Jacinto Benavente as an actor. In 1933, she returned with “Bodas de sangre”, “Mariana Pineda” and “La zapatera prodigiosa” by Federico Garcia Lorca. In 1979, a fire in the surrounding offices caused the theater facilities to collapse. The room remained closed and in a state of abandonment until it was rescued by a Spanish-Argentine consortium that remodeled it and returned to its former splendor. It was reopened in 1994 with a concert by the tenor Plácido Domingo together with the Madrid mezzo-soprano María José Montiel and the Argentine Paula Almerares and Cecilia Diaz, accompanied by the National Polyphonic Choir.

The city's first subway line is also located on Av. De Mayo. On September 15, 1911, the Anglo Argentina Tram Company began its construction. The work was carried out in the open air below Mayo and Rivadavia avenues and was carried out by the company Phillipp Holzmann & Cía. The original service of what is now Line A was inaugurated on December 1, 1913 and ran between the Plaza de Mayo and Plaza Once stations. About 170,000 people traveled that day and Vice President Victorino de la Plaza and Mayor Joaquín S. de Anchorena were present. Later, the line reached Caballito. At the time of its inauguration, it was the first underground metropolitan railway line in Latin America and the only one for more than 55 years, when the first section of the Mexican metro was enabled. It was also true of the southern hemisphere and the Hispanic world, since the Sydney metro dates back to 1926 and the Madrid line dates back to 1919.

Avenida de Mayo lost one of its blocks with the expansion of Av. 9 de Julio in 1944. However, over time it became one of the main icons of the city. Originally it reached Entre Ríos Avenue but after the construction of the National Congress palace (inaugurated in 1906) it was decided to consecrate it as an east-west civic axis. In 1910, the Plaza del Congreso was opened, which today forms a complex with the Mariano Moreno and Lorea squares.

To this day, Av. De Mayo, because it is the road that connects the Congress of the Argentine Nation with the Casa Rosada, is the obligatory route for the elected presidents of the Nation on inauguration days, and the favorite place for parades or for celebrations during national holidays. It was also a place for parades: on April 15, 1898, the first "flower parade" was held on Avenida de Mayo, organized by the City Benevolent Society. And very soon it became the parade par excellence of the City. It lived its splendor in the 40s and 50s. It was then interrupted by successive military dictatorships, until the return of democracy in 1983. In the 90s, the activity was reborn, and continues today.

Among the most emblematic cafes on the great artery, Café Los 36 Billares stands out, on Av. De Mayo 1271. It is a notable traditional bar and restaurant, known for its basement where the pool tables used to operate. It was inaugurated in 1894, when the opening of Avenida de Mayo had just been completed. It occupies the ground floor and basement of an apartment building that was built in 1914 for the “La Franco Argentina” Insurance Company, by the architects Tiphaine and Colmegna, in a French academic style.