La Plata, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina

The City of La Plata, Argentina, was founded in 1882 in the wake of the decades long Argentinian Civil War. The war, fought between the Federalist and Unitarian parties, was fought primarily over the status of the capital city, Buenos Aires, and its role in governance. After the victory of the Federalists in 1880 and the creation of a new federal district, the old province of Buenos Aires was left without a capital city. It was left to Governor Dardo Rocha to assemble a committee, headed by architect Pedro Benoit, to design this new capital. The La Plata of Pedro Benoit and his commission had two main influences. On the one hand, La Plata is one of the last examples of a city designed (loosely) according to the Law of the Indies, ordinances enacted by King Phillip II of Spain in 1573. These ordinances established a simple, orderly model for new developments in Spain’s colonial holdings that would maximize legibility over an incredibly wide domain. These cities were composed of gridded streets centered around a church and various governmental buildings, all surrounded by agricultural land (ejido). La Plata’s central plaza and grid formation show a clear desire to, at least in part, model the city after traditional planning methods. Benoit was also influenced by modern European and US urban planners, who advocated for the progressist model of the city. These cities would be designed with scientific, rationalist principles and would maximize order, health and mobility. La Plata’s abundance of parks and tree-lined boulevards are clear manifestations of this influence. Thus, La Plata was a city designed with both traditional and modern scientific influences, and is a clear example of the ordered city.

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  1. Sources: JULIO ANGEL MOROSI (2003) La Plata: an advanced nineteenth century new town with ancient roots, Planning Perspectives, 18:1, 23-46, DOI: 10.1080/0266543032000047396

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