The shallowness of the River Plate prevented large ships from docking at Buenos Aires’ ports. In 1882 Julio Argentico Roca commissioned Eduardo Madero to construct a new port to solve the problem. The image of Buenos Aires was important to Roca’s government, hence the insistence that the city had an accessible port. Construction began in 1887 and was completed in 1897.
However, a decade later, the boats arriving at Buenos Aires became too large for the new Puerto Madero. The area fell into dereliction, becoming one of the least savoury neighbourhoods, while a new port (Puerto Nuevo) was built and Puerto Madero was almost forgotten. Various regeneration strategies were planned over the years, but none was acted upon until 1989, when an urbanization plan was set out for the area. Under Carlos Menem’s government, Puerto Madero’s facelift began. Billions of dollars have been and are still being spent on the docklands, and what was once a Mafia playground has become a contrived tourist hotspot.
We don’t really recommend you come to eat here at night (partying is fine) – it’s just too touristy – but a daytime walk around the docks and over the Puente de la Mujer, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava at a cost of six million dollars, is a relaxing, if not romantic experience. The Yacht Club Argentino is down the road if you want lunch.