Josefina’s relationship with Buenos Aires

Josefina Oliver is educated in the public school system, according to the corpus conceived by President Sarmiento to teach thousands of immigrants who arrived in the country. As a corollary, Josefina has an evident love for the country and feels empathy for the city she was born in.

Since she is a child she witnesses the turning of a colonial Buenos Aires into a Paris-based model.

‘(…) In Zeballos Street the water seller brought us water in buckets and it was kept in a clay pot- In Venezuela Street we had a cistern- Running water and sewers were installed in 1890 (…).’ ‘I’ Autobiography Diary 16, p.162

In 1869, the population of Buenos Aires was 187.346 inhabitants; in 1887 it was 433.375 and in 1901 it reached 850.000 inhab. from all over the world.

‘(…) Neighbours from Venezuela St, from 84 to 90- When we moved, Mrs Lucía Belvis lived in the house next door on the right- she was Victorino de la Plaza’s mother in law, who was years later President of the Republic: - A very old lady with lots of elder children, creole in the old way with a lot of servitude, chapel, lottery in the evenings with chocolate- Granny was a very close friend to her- (…) On the other side of our house there was a tenement house with some French ironers, etc- Next to them a midwife, Matilde Paruolo – then a married couple Aceval (deluxe) on the corner the shoemaker Rimoldi. Opposite the Peña family related to the Paraguayan President - 5 or 6 children - haughty – The Gils – The Araozs, a battalion-’ ‘I’ Autobiography Diary 16, p.161

Torcuato de Alvear, the major of Buenos Aires, appoints Eugène Courtois, who had come from France in 1890, as Director of walkways. This great man brings the model of his country to the city. As well as planting 10.000 trees in the city squares, up to that time called “hollows”, wastelands, he creates a municipal greenhouse. Carlos Thays will succeed him from 1890 to 1914. It is them who embellish the city with flowers, statues, caverns, trees, ponds and lakes.

Over those years, the Palermo racecourse, which was founded in 1876, is renovated.

An area of the Fort of Buenos Aires (1595), seat of Government, is demolished in 1853. On that empty space President Sarmiento builds the Post Office and paints it pink as the rest of the Fort. The name Pink House comes from this time. In 1882, President Roca modifies the front of the building and the Government House is finally completed in 1890.

In 1884, the dividing Old Arcade (Recova Vieja) in Plaza de Mayo is pulled down, the two former Squares are reunified, and the pyramid is modified and placed in the centre. Avenida de Mayo is opened up and the Cabildo is downsized. Some time later the National Congress and Puerto Madero are built.

Horse tramways are electrified and their circuits lead to the new quarters of the city which expands rapidly. With the incorporation of the districts of Belgrano and San José de Flores, in 1887, the total urban surface increases from 4.400 ha to 18.100 ha. However, only 7.5 % of all the 1.363 existing blocks are occupied.

The outburst of Buenos Aires galvanises Josefina, who embodies the argentine flag through photography, designs patriotic stamps with her portrait or portrays herself as a stamp.

All along her life, Josefina clearly states her records of this bond with Argentina and specially with Buenos Aires.

‘(…) Tuesday 25th – National Holiday. We were going out during the day but we left it for the night. We went to the study with my notebooks. I read all the 25th May since 17 years ago. A special 25th May (…)’ Diary 4 p.355 may 1909

Mármol 25th May 1915
‘(…) My dear Nena: (…) Today 25th May at lunch time I put Pedrito Genaro an Argentine ribbon band, a cockade and an emblem on the heart, Pepe played the anthem on the phonograph and I with another Argentine flag held the small owl and we all entered the dining room. Uncle Lolo sat grumbling and had his soup but we were standing for the time the anthem lasted. Goodbye, affections from the girls and the little creole and a kiss– (…)’. - JO Postcard D 15 photo 065 (Pedrito Genaro, her 5-week-old son)

‘(…) Thursday 25th May, 1916- National Holiday. Everybody is wearing Argentine and Spanish cockades. My Pedrito wears an Argentine band like that of a President. They went to BA to see the illuminations which they say were low-spirited (…)’ Diary 5, p.310

‘(…) Monday 9th of July, 1934 – We had a bottle of icy cider and toasted for our beloved Buenos Aires which national holiday is today (…)’ Diary 10 p.365