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Buenos Aires for most of its history has had to live with a grid of very narrow rights-of-way – at least to our eyes.  There wasn’t a big difference between the side street and the main drag.

streets

Understandably, a good part of civic history is about the City’s attempts to break free of the claustrophobic grid and build wider roads wherever they had the chance – or tear down the city, Haussmann-style, to do so.  The imperative became greater as automobiles, taxis and colectivos (the Uber of their day) showed up in ever larger numbers.

The goal: let’s relieve congestion!  Very popular with the voters, and a lot of tax money got spent to do it.

First up, well before the age of the auto, was the Avenida de Mayo, running between the President’s palace, the Casada Rosada, and the Congresso, two straight kilometres to the west.  In the late 19th century, it was the “Champs d’Elysees” of the Americas, along with some extravagant architectural pastry.

Then came the Diagonals, North and South, that got caught in politics and economics and took years and many mayors to complete.  But they were disciplined exercises in city building.

diagonal

Still damned impressive:

diag

 

But didn’t seem to do much for the congestion problem.