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THE HISTORY OF FLORIDA STREET

The origin of Florida street is as old as the city itself, considering that it already appears in the primitive layout of streets outlined by Juan d Garay in june 1580, at the time of the second foundation of Buenos Aires. It was initially nominated as the "Third Street" and it was an important transit line between the "chacras" and "huertas" (small farms) which supplied the city. It housed the first bakery and confectionery store and became an early sitting for stores and was the promenade for the elegant ladies of the - at the time - colonial Buenos Aires.

According to documents of the time, the Cabildo nominated the street as "San José" when it dedicated it to the Saint, name which was officialized in 1734 by Governor Miguel de Salcedo. It appears in documents of the time as the "Calle del Empedrado" (Cobbled Street") as it was cobbled with rolling stones brought from Uruguay. Part of those stones are actually exposed next to the subway entrance at the "Catedral" station, in the corner of Florida and Diagonal Norte.

At the time of the English invasions of 1806/7, it is cited in some documents as the "Calle del Correo" (Post Office Street) as this office was situated at the corner of Perú and Hipólito Irigoyen. In 1508 it was named Baltasar Unquera, as an homage to an aide-de-camp of Santiago de Liniers who fell in combat in the Convent of Santo Domingo. The name of "La Florida" was awarded to the street in 1828 at the time of the "Gobierno del Directorio", in memory of the battle of Florida, fought in 1814 in the Alto Perú against the Spaniards.

In 1837 Juan Manuel de Rosas named it as "Del Perú" At the time of the presidency of Urquiza in 1856, the name of "Florida" was returned to it. In the corner of Florida street and the actual Presidente Perón street, the National Anthem was sang for the first time at the house of Mariquita Sánchez de Thompson, building preserved and declared Historical Monument. By the end of the XIX century, a line of tramways started circulating along Florida Street.

It was pioneer in the exhibition of novelties and important cultural, political and costumbrist expressions of the history of Buenos Aires and Argentina. It was the first street in exhibiting transparent shop windows, illuminated day and night. It became, in the beguinning of the XX century, the center of fashion. When Buenos Aires was still a small town, it was the emporium of the novelties imported from Europe, which adapted to the national taste. Even in the tango lyrics, a permanent reference is made to the street Florida as synonime of elegance.

In the vein of Paris, Florida had its department stores, with very good organization and merchandising imported mostly from Paris and London, which irradiated to the rest of the country by way of excellent fashion magazines through which products could be ordered by mail from any place in the country. Among the most outstanding ones we can cite Gath y Cháves, Harrods, Galerías Pacífico, Galería General Guemes and Ciudad de México.

Florida´s arquitechture is eclectic and as such, buildings representing different european styles were built, prevailing the english, french, spanish, italian and postmodern styles. Just to point at some outstanding ones we can name the Galerías Pacífico built in 1889, inspired in the "Au Bon Marché" of Paris, and the "Galería Vittorio Emanuele" of Milan. The Centro Naval, in the corner of Florida and Córdoba, inaugurated in 1914, is a majestic building inspired in motifs of war and peace from the Palace of Versailles, in which an important door outstands, made of cast iron and bronze obtained from old canons used at the war of the argentine independence, which represents a singular piece of craftsmanship.

The Galería Guemes at Florida 165, also known as "Pasaje Florida", with profusion of valuable marbles, artistic bronzes and striking lights, inaugurated in 1915, was precursor of the skyscrapers of Buenos Aires with its 80 meters height. In 1930 the Casa Harrods was built, a forced walk for the elegants for decades and seat for the most glamorous fashion shows. Across from elegant Plaza San Martín, in 1936, the "Kavanagh" was built, at the time the highest concrete building in South América and the first one in Argentina with central air conditioned.

Since 1971 Florida became pedestrian and was always a motif of pride for the "porteños" as it was a pleasure to walk along it, for the elegance of its showrooms and the variety of its commercial offer. This street has been distinguished with its inclusion among the fourteen most important commercial streets of the world, and as such, invited to the World First Seminar of the most famous commercial streets of the world, which took place in may 2002 in Beijin, Republic of China.

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