Some people obviously look around Buenos Aires and see tremendous opportunity. A large population, crumbling buildings, cheap labor, and apparently little regulation make Buenos Aires a dream city for real estate developers. But, oh, if it could just be easier to kick the squatters out of those buildings and foreclosures could be more rapid then the lending market could take off, spurring even more construction, new homes, and …well, the economy here runs in cycles anyway.

To be fair, Buenos Aires – like everywhere – has gone through periods of building booms…note all those hideous apartment buildings that seem dated from the 1970s and 1980s. Perhaps most notably was the massive demolition of entire city blocks to create Av 9 de Julio, the diagonals, and let’s not forget, even Av de Mayo. Most of these lovely buildings of faded elegance replaced previous structures.

Will the new construction displace an essential character of the city, the architecture that currently distinguishes Buenos Aires from most other cities in the Western Hemisphere?

I just had a vision of the future of Buenos Aires: in an attempt to ease traffic congestion, an elevated highway is constructed above Av 9 de Julio.

Meanwhile in Monserrat

This new apartment building is going up at the corner of Virrey Cevallos and Chile. That’s actually a very good location if you want something in the center of the city.

But look closely at the edges of the neighboring building. Demolition crews do a sloppy job, leaving traces of the former structure. What was this places before?

Ceci actually used to live just down the street on Virrey Cevallos a few years back and I have actually walked this block many times back in 2003. Was there something there then or was it already gone? Honestly, I can’t even remember. Fortunately, the city’s mapping site reminds us with this photo from 1997:

virrey cevallos y chile

I want to say that I remember this corner from 2003 but I’m not sure. Perhaps I’m mistaking it with some other similar corner. Well, perhaps Buenos Aires only needs one corner like this and the rest can go away … in this city that fades away.