Buenos Aires – March 2020 – Cool and Funky Vehicles of Argentina

While we have returned to the USA to ride out this challenging time, there are some interesting topics that have yet to be covered on our time in Argentina. One of those are the funky vehicles of the country.

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Lets start with the city buses. Unlike most cities in the US, the buses in Buenos Aires are privately owned, and are known as Colectivos. They are very colorful, and run what seems like illogical routes.

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Note this line’s name – Nueva Chicago. Based in the south end of the city, the neighborhood was home to the stockyards. These stockyard came after the famed Chicago stockyards, so of course the neighborhood became known as ‘New Chicago’. Today the neighborhood is more commonly known as Matadoros, but the bus line retains the original name.

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This photo transitions us from the buses to the quirky trucks that haul all sorts of stuff around the city.

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I didn’t get enough of these trucks as they would just appear randomly.

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A stop of the Subte….  Buenos Aires has 6 different subway lines and it seems each has it’s own style car, including two lines that have cars with no air conditioning so the windows open.

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A trip to the country gives a good example of the number of huge old Mercedes Benz trucks that troll the roads of Argentina.

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Also in this area was this – an Argentina El Camino perhaps. So much with this scene, a funky truck/car, a gaucho and the drivers door open with no driver to be seen, and they were parked nowhere close to anything else.

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A jeep with some interesting replacement bodywork.

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A few beer trucks…Always very cool.

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A 1970s Ford LTD as a taxi way down in Patagonia.

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This guys mom must not have told him never to play in traffic. In reality we saw numerous street performers doing their act in traffic stopped at lights.

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To me it appears Buenos Aires has more motorcycles and scooters than any city in the Western Hemisphere.

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There are also a stunning number of nicely restored VW Buses.

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But in the end the cars are the best..

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The red streamer hanging off the back is supposed to bring you good luck and keep you safe.

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With the strong Italian culture in Buenos Aires you must have a cool old Fiat.

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A ubiquitous Buenos Aires taxi – low fares, a strange collection of vehicles all painted the same color scheme, and drivers who are even more interesting. I read horror stories of the taxi’s but we took them all the time with no problems. My favorite taxi ride was to go to a commuter train station, but the street to get us next to the station was one way the wrong way – no problem, pull onto the street one block up and BACK DOWN the block to get us there. At least we were pointed in the correct direction the entire time!

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And we end this posting with this stylish Cadillac that belonged to the one and only Juan and Eva Peron.

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Buenos Aires – January 2020 – Station to Station Spanish History Tour in Art on the Subway

The Subway Art Tours of Buenos Aires continues with the C Line. This line runs between the two major train stations, Retiro and Constitucion.

We start at Retiro.





There is a direct passage to the Subte from the Retiro concourse.





The first artwork that is seen is by Fernando Allievi. It depicts the harshness and lonliness of living in the big city.










Along the platform are mosaics celebrates diversity in Buenos Aires.





The first stop is Plaza San Martin. The artist Marcela Moujan brought the green space of the plaza into the subway station with this work.





This Neo-expressionist work by Luis Felipe Noe represents the geographical diversity of Argentina: The Mountains, The Pampa and the Jungle.





A collection of eight friezes by Rodolfo Medina celebrate the liberation campaigns that General San Martin lead to free Chile and Peru.









This piece is entitled El Sur, by Luis Fernando Benedit.




When you reach Lavalle Station you begin to get the Spanish history lesson. In this station the landscapes of the Alicante, Valencia, Teruel, Huesca and Zaragoza regions of Spain are celebrated.

















In addition to the murals in the stations the accompanying tile work is unique to each. The overall atmosphere of Diagonal Norte station is of hues of blue.








In this station the regions of Avila, Toledo, Soria, Burgos, Madrid and Aranjuez – with some of the more famous buildings of each city are depicted.





















The Avenida de Mayo station has this mural entitled ‘Spain and Argentina’, with images representing ideas. On the right Argentina is young and promising, on the left is the old establishment of Spain. The female figure in the center represents the strong relationship of the two countries, with the subway construction underneath showing the work to join the two.





The supports in the center of the platform make a perfect picture frame for this Ignacio Zuloaga Zableta mural showing the massive aqueduct.





As we continue to the Moreno station we are greeted with more Spanish landscapes: Bilbao, Santander, Alava, Navarra, Santiago, Lugo and Asturias are all represented on the murals on both sides of the platform.













Again the tile work leading to the platforms is amazing.









Independencia Station – Landscapes here include Seville, Granada, Cordoba and others.














San Juan Station – The Levante region, where the sun rises.








The history lesson is over, we have reached Constitucion – you are now fully in Argentina. The painter and cartoonist Florencio Molina Campos was famous for the characters of the Pampa region.












Welcome to Constitucion Station.






Buenos Aires – December 2019 – D Line Subway Art

Christmas day morning is the perfect time to take photos of the massive amount of art in the Buenos Aires subway – the trains are running frequently but there are very few people on them, or in the stations.

This posting is not meant to be a catalog of all of the art as it would be far to extensive, rather to profile some of the best. The photos go in order from the furthest station out (Congresso de Tucaman) to the termination at Catedral. Many of the notes detailing the work came from a PDF/book published in 2017 by the city of Buenos Aires.

We start in the Congresso de Tucaman station with a large mural that is meant as a statement of freedom and independence, with a number of symbols including a condor which stands for the southern hemisphere and an eagle which stands for the northern hemisphere. This mural also represents sacred symbols and the idea that it is never too late to make dreams come true.




This mural, as well as a number of others, in the Jose Hernandez station is by Raúl Soldi. The works depict a bygone era of art and music.




The ticket level has a tribute to Lionel Messi, a legendary Argentine soccer player.




In the Palermo station are works from Milo Lockett, evoking childhood memories to provide a pleasant journey.







In the Plaza d’Italia station are three beautiful tile murals by Leonie Matthis de Villar. This one is depicting public ceremonies the chiefs used to carry out with the priest before entering the church.




The columns of the station are decorated by Marino Santa Maria, the mosaic artist we met in his studio a few weeks ago.




On the floor of the platform, protected by special resistant material, are scenes from the Port of Buenos Aires in the 1930s. It represents the Italian immigrant laborers of the day.









Many of the stations have these fantastic murals on tile. Completed by Rodolfo Franco, they were installed in the stations during their construction in the 1930s, depicting both historic and current (for 1930s) life across Argentina.

























In the Pueyrredón station are a series of illustrations by Gustavo Reinoso showing the symbols of the city in a Pop Art style.














Further into town at the Facultad de Medicina we return to more of the Franco murals.













In the Callao station there are 8 large mosaics portraying German artists who learned their artwork was destroyed by the Nazi’s at the end of World War II. Completed by Remo Bianchedi, it is a tribute to the anguish those artists felt.

Knowing this now they seem cheapened by the large advertising nearby.













The Teatro Colon station has a far more modern art approach.






Also in the Teatro Colon station are representations of the Spanish conquistadors coming to Argentina, and the impact it had on the natives.






In this mural depicting 1835, gauchos are resting after the end of their journey, leaving their carts half-loaded. This image contains those goods that were part of the international trade that later Argentina into the breadbasket of the world.





We end at Catedral where the beloved Mafalda is lamenting the condition of the world.







Buenos Aires – June 2019 – Views of the City

It was a great 10 days in Buenos Aires. I am not certain what I was expecting but whatever it was, BA exceeded it!

The Nueve de Julio Avenue is the center of the city. Created in the 1930s by wiping out an entire city block wide, and nearly 3 miles long, it is an impressive sight.



The city exists because of the huge estuary of the Rio de La Plata, creating one of the world’s great ports.



The city is full of great architecture starting with the Retiro Train Station.





The Torre Monument is in the plaza in front of Retiro. The tower was completed in 1916 by the same architect who built Big Ben.



Just down the street is the Kavanagh Building, an Art Deco masterpiece.



One of the highlights of the city is the number of ‘Palacios’ remaining from the early 1900s. While there were once more than 100, less than 40 remain, but those that still stand are magnificent.













In addition to the Palacios there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of impressive buildings.

















The city was the first city in South America to have a subway, starting over 100 years ago.





As with any city, not all are enjoying the good life. Buenos Aires has some ‘Villa’s, basically shantytowns for the very poor. The city says they have a plan to help improve the lives of the people living in the Villas, but only time will tell.



No visit to Buenos Aires is complete without a stop at the Obelisk.



For now it is time to fly, but not before joining the crowd to watch a soccer game while waiting on the plane. True Buenos Aires!






New York City – June 2019 – Random Views

As with any week spent in the city, you always run across interesting sights.

Starting with the Puerto Rico Day Parade





The view from the Roosevelt Island Tram





A Public Art exhibit on the High Line.









Brooklyn Subway Station Details – those familiar with the area will notice it is actually from two different stations.









Staying in Brooklyn – Barlay’s Center Arena.



A cool art deco power substation for the subway in Greenwich Village



Park Avenue just north of Grand Central Terminal.



Hudson Yards





The Alexander Hamilton House



And finally – the Apollo Theater in Harlem!






New York City – June 2019 – Sit Down or Hang On

A slang for someone who rides the subway a lot is a ‘strap hanger’. The term comes from the early days where there were actual straps that the standing passengers held onto.

This posting illustrates the history of New York City Subway cars and the changes in the seats, and ‘straps’.



Only the very oldest cars have the cloth straps! In addition this BMT Q car has rattan seats that are very cool.





Very early on the cloth straps were replaced with metal ones.





The next version has already moved to the metal bars. I am certain the straps wore out quickly, whereas the bars last forever.





Our next version loses the rattan seats, replaced with these stylish green and yellow stripes. The bars have also evolved to be much larger, so more people can hang on while standing.

This is an IRT R-12 car dating from 1948.





On the IRT R-15 car the bench seating continues, only in solid red, while the bars are still large and protruding. This car dates from 1950.





The first plastic seats make an appearance on an R42. This type of car was most famously used in the 1971 movie The French Connection, where the good guy is in a car chasing the bad guy who stole a train.



Time to board our next car – the ‘straps’ have returned! This car is a R33 ‘World’s Fair’ car, so named as it was released in 1963, the same year the city hosted the World’s Fair.







The last of the straight bench seating makes an appearance.



As we move closer to the modern design, randomized seating.





Finally by the 1970s it looks essentially the same as today’s cars. Not nearly as elegant as the cloth straps and wicker seats, but far more functional and durable.



Time to hang out on the benches in the station and reflect on the changes of the subway over the last 100 years.








Chicago – February 2019 – Then and Now

The ‘Time Travel’ series continues in Chicago start with Van Buren Street Station in 1907 and now. Note the Art Museum in both photos for orientation of the view.






The Chicago River looking west in 1946 and now. Same bridges, but not much else (although the Merchandise Mart is still there, just hidden behind Marina City.






Buckingham Fountain from 1955 to now gives evidence to how many buildings have been built in the last 60s years.





Michigan Avenue north of the river from 330 N Michigan again shows all the new buildings, although the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower still grace the riverfront itself.





Meanwhile down at street level looking across the same bridge in 1955. Of note is the mid 50s Ford making the right turn compared to the Honda Civic today. Both were one of the most popular cars of their day.

Also of note are examples of clothing as well as the change in street lighting.





This view of State Street in front of Marshall Fields/Macy’s has the change over from streetcars to buses. At some point they must have cleaned the exterior of Marshall Field’s as it is much brighter today.





While turning around looking south down State Street – in the 1950s it was large old Plymouths, Packards and Chevy’s. Today is a Prius parade while the traffic blocked the intersection.





Moving back over to Michigan Avenue in the late 1950s shows the recently completed Prudential Building (1955). Not only was it the tallest building around it was the only building on Randolph Street, east of Michigan.

The reason for this was they were just beginning to replace the freight rail yards with buildings. Clearly by 2019 all available space has been built up.





This view from 1960 shows the freight yards east of Michigan Avenue, right in the middle of Grant Park. While Columbus Avenue took part, the park is much better for the city than the rail lines.





The El crossing the river to the west loop (at a slightly different angle in 2019) shows the huge growth along the river from 1960 until today.





The skyline view from Adler Planetarium also shows the dramatic change. This skyline view is from 1965. (full disclosure the ‘current’ photo is from last July, not this last week – nobody was sitting along the stone step along the lake in Chicago in February).





Our final view is from 1970, and the recently completed John Hancock Tower – the first 1000′ tall building in Chicago. This view too is impressive in the changes seen in downtown Chicago in the last 50 years.