Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Buenos Ayres

Buenos Ayres, the capital of the Argentine Republic, is on the right bank of the estuary of the river Plata, which, though 36 miles across at this spot and 150 miles from the open sea, is here so shallow that ships that draw 15 feet of water cannot approach within less than seven or eight miles from the town. The advantage that Buenos Ayres possesses over the rival Uruguayan port, Monte Video, upon the other side of the river, is that it has facilities for monopolising and controlling the inland trade which the latter city is destitute of. Late improvements in the water approach, with a system of river walls and of docks, which will on the one hand prevent floods and overflows, and upon the other will enable vessels of any size to come quite up to the city, together with the rapid development of railways that open up the resources of the country and will in time facilitate its communication with Chili, bid fair to give Buenos Ayres a future of great prosperity. The city is laid out in a square, and the streets intersect each other at right angles, but the roads are bad and muddy, and as the town is somewhat hilly, and the causeways are made level, these latter are often at an inconvenient height from the road, into which descent has to be made by slippery steps which bring the unwary pedestrian to grief. But he is perhaps compensated by the opportunity given him by the height of the causeways of studying the dolce far niente which is dear to the Argentine female nature. The best-built part of the town is the centre, in which most of the warehouses and houses of business are situated. The cathedral is exceeded only by that of Lima, and there are several fine public buildings, including the government house, the residence of the president of the republic, the University, the mint, the post office, a military college, and the congress hall, while some of the railway stations are imposing buildings. Six railways have their terminus here, and there are 100 lines of tram line, and there is cable communication with Europe and with the United States.

Of the dozen or so squares that the city contains the handsomest is the Plaza de la Victoria, which has in the centre a monument of the war of Independence. The city is well drained, and though till lately they depended upon the water carrier for a supply from the river, the water is now laid on, as well as gas, and the old arrangements remain only in the suburbs. Like most foreign towns of any pretension, the telephone is used extensively. There is a large foreign element in Buenos Ayres, many of the great houses of England, France, and Belgium having branches or representatives here, and the town is very cosmopolitan. The great majority of the foreigners are Italians, to which nation most of the cafe keepers belong; next in numbers are the Spanish, French, and English. There are newspapers in all these languages, and in German. As Buenos Ayres is on an alluvial plain, it presents a monotonous appearance, besides the practical disadvantages of being almost destitute of stone and of fuel. But as the people are ever ready to follow European fashions, granite is now imported for paving the streets, and the houses are built and furnished in European style, and are fitted with chimneys and grates, where European coal takes the place of charcoal and withered prairie weeds which were formerly burnt in the old Spanish brazero. The change is much appreciated, as the climate of Buenos Ayres is both humid and variable. It is a much debated question at the present time whether emigration to Buenos Ayres and its neighbourhood is a thing to be encouraged or not, some, saying that the authorities hold out hopes to intending immigrants that are not realised, while others say that the disappointment is caused by the impossible ideas with which the emigrants arrive there, expecting to be at once well-to-do landed proprietors, without expenditure of capital or passing through the process of labour and hardship generally known as "roughing it." But emigration is easy, since there are numerous lines of steamers plying between Europe and Buenos Ayres.

Although the inhabitants of the city of Buenos Ayres resemble Europeans to a great extent in habits, you have only to go out upon the plain composing the province, among the cattle and sheep-rearing farms, or estancias, to find the wild, independent race of Gauchos, who live on horseback and employ their whole life chiefly in tending cattle, though on the many millions of acres of sheep-farms there is a large proportion of Scottish and Irish shepherds. The native owners of the cattle and sheep-farms divide their life between town and country, living a civilised life in the winter, and a semi-wild life upon their estancias in the summer. Compared with the industry of cattle-rearing, that of agriculture is not very important, and is confined chiefly to the eastern district of the province and to the south-west of the city. Buenos Ayres was founded by De Mendoza in 1535, and again in 1580 by De Garay, and in 1776 the province of Rio de la Plata was made, a vice-royalty, with Buenos Ayres as capital. In 1805 and 1807 the English attacked Buenos Ayres and were driven off. In 1816 separation from Spain and the establishment of a republic was determined on, and since 1880 Buenos Ayres has been the seat of the federal government, the government of the province being carried on at La Plata.