21 May 2007

History around us

This year is the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of the National Flag Memorial (Monumento Nacional a la Bandera), so there will be lots of cultural activities related to it, peaking at the official celebration of Flag Day (20 June). One of those activities is the exhibition of the original plans of the Memorial by architect Ángel Guido, which were found along with many other buildings' blueprints, abandoned in a wet hidden room at the National Direction of Architecture, Littoral Region, among furniture 70 years old, beside the old Customs Office building. Researchers and restorers have been at it for two years, cataloging and filming.

History and historical landmarks are getting popular lately. Tonight at 9 PM there's a documentary about Rosario on History Channel (Historia Secreta: Rosario). This must be a first — HC has been doing localized documentaries for its Latin American division, but I don't remember Rosario being featured anywhere in world TV. This is supposed to be broadcast to the whole continent. If you can record it, I'd be grateful.

I've always loved history myself, though I didn't have the chance to study it formally (that might happen in the future, though). The history of Argentine railways and of Rosario's railways, in particular, and their tragic decline, is one of my special interests. It's difficult to ignore the influence of the train when you walk around certain areas of the city. At the most unsuspected spots you see half-covered old rails embedded in the streets. The old stations are still there, abandoned, restored or modified; there are people who still remember the time when it was easy to cross the whole city in less than 20 minutes by train, comfortable and safer than today's bus, reaching stations that helped whole populous neighbourhoods prosper and grow.

The trains continue to come only to Rosario Norte, at long intervals; the short-distance interurban system was destroyed by decades of bad administration, negligence, union corruption, and ill-advised privatization (the Former Presidential Cuckold was not guilty of the whole mess, but he did finish off the railways).

I've been reading up on railway history (follow the links above) and working on the Wikipedia articles that cover the stations, so I'll keep inflicting the subject on my readers for a while. Moreover, history is something to be told, and I have a possibly interested partner for that. We're talking about a student of European history and culture who happens to be young and quite easy on the eye..., but she's Japanese! She's the daughter of my calligraphy teacher in Japanese school and understands almost no Spanish or English. She lives, coincidentally, almost across the street from the former Rosario Central Station. Myself, logically, haven't devoted my time to study expressions such as "nationalization", "right-wing nationalist government", or "Italian-style neo-Gothic clock tower", so last Saturday (as we went along the Flickr photographers' group Rosarigasinos doing a photo safari), I had a hard time conveying all these interesting data to her...

Interestingly enough, Europeans brought railways to Japan as well as to Argentina, and they did it at about the same time. Japan made the best out of them; we lost them over the years. There are plans to revitalize the system, but that still seems a dream.

1 comment:

  1. “There are plans to revitalize the system, but that still seems a dream”.

    Ah, you must be referring to the high speed railway linking BsAs, Rosario, and Córdoba. Perhaps it could also connect to the rocket-airplane launch pad?



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