Buenos Aires, Argentina » City Info » History

The city was first founded by a Spanish gold-seeking expedition led by Pedro de Mendoza, on 2 February 1536. In 1539, attacks by the native people forced the settlers away and in 1541 the old site was burned. In 1580, Juan de Garay from Asuncion, which is now the capital of Paraguay, established a permanent settlement here.

  Photo Credit: José Moreno Carbonero  / CC PD Mark

The city remained under the authority of a Spanish viceroy in Peru until 1776. It was the capital of the viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata, including much of present-day Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia. The early days of the city were annoying for the residents. The Spanish insisted on some rules that frustrated the traders of the city. The people were not happy with the Spanish rule. After noticing a deep resentment in locals, Charles III of Spain gradually simplified the trade restrictions. Finally, in the late 1700s, he declared Buenos Aires an open port. However, most of the residents were hoping for separation from the Spanish Empire.

During the attacks on Rio de la Plata, the city was invaded twice in 1806 and 1807 by British forces. But the local militants managed to drive back the forces both times. Eventually, when Spain was busy with Peninsular War, the armed people of the town council expelled the Spanish Viceroy and founded a provisional representative government on May 25, 1810. This day, May 25 is now celebrated as a national holiday or May Revolution Day all over the country. Later on, the Spanish ruler officially declared Independence in 1816.

Buenos Aires had remained an important center for liberal and free-trade ideas in Argentina. However, some of the other provinces were having a Catholic approach to political and social issues. These contrasting views became the reason for some conflicts later. After May 25 Revolution, the forces of the city tried to obtain the approval of other provinces. Many of these missions resulted in violent clashes.

In the 19th century, the city faced two naval blockades, first by the French from 1838 to 1840 and another joint Anglo-French blockade from 1845 to 1848. The city holds out its position and eventually, the external powers stopped their demands. In 1853, the internal conflicts forced Buenos Aires province to separate out from Argentina. But after the National political unity, the city became the capital of Argentina in 1862. Further tensions between the city and province resulted in the detachment of the city from the province.

  Photo Credit: Roberto Fiadone / CC BY-SA 3.0 

During the second half of the 19th century, the city flourished by all means. The economic power of the city increased with the help of wealth generated by the fertile pampas and railroad construction. The city developed into a multicultural metropolitan and graded itself with the major European capitals. By the 1920s, it became the favored destination for immigrants who came to city from all over Europe and from Argentina's provinces and neighboring countries too.

Due to some economic crises, some citizens moved to the outskirts of the larger cities resulting in the creation of some new villas around the town. In 1935, the population jumped to the 3.5million marks. The city experienced bombing on June 16, 1955, which killed 364 civilians. In the 1970s, it suffered from the fighting between left-wing revolutionary movements (Montoneros, E.R.P., and F.A.R.) and the right-wing paramilitary group Triple A. Jorge Rafael Videla which led to the military coup of 1976. Some development plans took place during the years of dictatorship.

Certain bomb explosions between 1992 and 1994 destroyed the buildings and several Jewish organizations. In 1996, under the 1994 reform of the Argentine Constitution, the city gained autonomous status and held its first mayoral elections. In 2004, the city again underwent one of the greatest non-natural tragedies in Argentine history. A fire at Republica Cromagnon nightclub became the cause for the death of 200 people.