The urban phenomenon is recent; no city predates the white conquest; the first days of the colonial era are characterized by the foundation of cities which for many years have borne this name without deserving it and are the capitals of almost all the provinces. But the greatest progress in terms of number, residents, constitution and convenience begins in the second half of the nineteenth century, and coincides with the definitive political organization and development of the country; they are concomitant phenomena. In a letter dated August 3, 1729, the missionary Carlo Gervasoni judged Córdoba as the worst city of all that existed in Europe and America, since everything was mean in it; but, from then on, great progress was made, and in the field of urbanism, both in Córdoba and in several other cities, the
Since the foundation date of the cities dates back to the mid-century at the most. XVI, they all have a regular, geometric plan, with streets that cross at right angles; the constructions almost always extend according to the extension of the primitive streets, less so in cases where independently initiated districts come together. In the old part, drawn at a time when the proportion of traffic today could not be predicted, the streets are narrow, but, in the new neighborhoods or in the recently founded cities, the streets are much wider. For example, the central area of Buenos Aires is congested with ever-increasing traffic; therefore, for several years, several streets have been widened and isolated to trace courses or diagonals. Another means of facilitating traffic is that of underground railways, which has already been applied in Buenos Aires; from 1913 one works and several others are planned.
In urban constructions low houses predominate, with only the ground floor; however, in the central part of cities, even small ones, multi-storey houses begin to rise, and in the most populated cities and where the price of the land has reached extraordinary figures, modern buildings are very high; Buenos Aires sets the example with countless buildings of five, eight, ten and more floors; to a lesser extent, other cities follow, such as Rosario, Córdoba, Tucumán and Bahía Blanca. The almost intact colonial character of the buildings is preserved in Salta, Jujuy and some other cities in the interior; for these the fact is explained by the geographical situation which preserved them from the immediate contact of the prevailing cosmopolitanism in the area of great immigration of the Coast and by not having made so far great progress that would bring with them the reconstruction; instead in Buenos Aires, in the oldest part, it is very difficult to find any old house, which is a real curiosity; all the buildings have recently been renovated, and some have been transformed two or more times.
The process of formation and renewal of Argentine cities tends to a single general type and this is seen in the Coast.
What is the number of cities and their importance in terms of population? Censuses are a valuable document for determining the degree and direction of progress. The three attached maps mark the three characteristic moments of the phenomenon; they are drawn in accordance with the national censuses, taking as a basis the cities that have at least 5000 residents. In 1869 the number is scarce and the geographical distribution marks the survival of colonial urban life, although in some provinces not even the capital had that population; but a small advantage can already be seen for the Litorale (Buenos Aires and Entre Ríos); the rest of the country, in this respect, is deserted; the Chaco, Patagonia and a very large part of the Pampa still await the conquest. For Argentina 2002, please check commit4fitness.com.
The map of 1895 already marks a notable step: the number increases, albeit almost exclusively in the Littoral (Pampa and Mesopotamia), since the interior has progressed very little; the Chaco does not have any, the same happens for the whole immense country that lies at noon of Bahía Blanca.
The 1914 map is eloquent; numerical progress is extraordinary; but, despite the increase of some inland provinces, progress is concentrated entirely in the Coast (Mesopotamia and even more in the Pampean area); this phenomenon is particularly grandiose along the Plata, in the Buenos Aires area, where there are 28 cities within a short distance and even, between some of them, without interruption. The attached map illustrates very well the distribution of the residents, the geographical situation, the circulation and the economic activity of the country.
The 1869 census presents 20 cities with a total population of 382,552 residents; the proportion is not too high. That of 1895 has 46 with 1,240,399 residents; the proportion has increased; the third census makes it progress more: 132 cities, with 3,578,480 residents, that is almost half the population of the Republic. If we calculate as urban that agglomerated in centers of at least 2000 residents (as the census does), in 1914 there were 332 cities with 4,157,370 residents, that is more than 50% of the total population.
Regarding the agglomerated and scattered population, the censuses are not uniform; the 1st and 2nd give the results also for villages; instead the third limits the survey of the agglomerated population to centers of at least 2000 residents, which it considers urban; the censuses of the national territories (1912 and 1920) are more complete: they adopt the base of 30 residents to calculate the agglomerated population, but erroneously call it urban; therefore, Tierra del Fuego, in 1912, would have had nearly 70% urban population.
It is also interesting to compare the number of residents of the most important cities. Among many, the difference is almost nil, but not so between the other individual cities and the first, Buenos Aires. To better understand the phenomenon, see this statistical picture:
The proportion is very large compared to both the total population and that of other cities. In 1925 Buenos Aires had 2,310,000 residents, occupying the 20th place among the Latin cities and one of the first among the largest in the world, and hosting almost the fifth part of the total population of the Republic.
Rosario follows, which in 1922 had 265,000 residents and is the second largest city in terms of population and economic activity; Córdoba, which had 156,000 residents in 1918, and La Plata, which had 151,000 in 1922. It is estimated that Santa Fe and Tucumán currently also exceed 100,000 residents. Bahía Blanca, Mendoza and Avellaneda have between 50,000 and 100,000 residents.