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Month: April 2009

331. extended break

Apologies to regular readers for the lack of posts lately. I can’t remember ever being this busy… ok, maybe in my senior year of high school, but that was a long time ago 🙂

Anyway, I’m off to Spain in a few hours & won’t be back in Buenos Aires until July, so this blog will take an extended break until then. It will definitely resume in two months time. There’s too much juicy material waiting to be published.

I had hoped to finish a self-guided PDF tour of Recoleta Cemetery by the end of March, but there has been little time for me to work on the design or edit text. It was a priority when I moved back to Buenos Aires in February, then all hell broke loose. When will it be complete? Good question. As soon as it is, I’ll let everyone know.

See you in July!

Good newsThe PDF is now finished!


330. alfredo giusti

Alfredo Giusti, Recoleta Cemetery

A single plaque states that Alfredo Giusti was the director & president of the Droguería de la Estrella for almost half a century, from 1906 to 1950:

Alfredo Giusti, Recoleta Cemetery

As the oldest surviving business in Buenos Aires, the Droguería de la Estrella sits one block from Plaza de Mayo on the corner of Alsina & Defensa. The shop also has the distinction of being the first pharmacy in the city when it opened in 1834. Then known as the Farmacia de la Estrella, its location across the street from the Iglesia de San Francisco began a trend… all early pharmacies were placed near churches so patrons could use their bell towers as beacons.

Farmacia de la Estrella, Buenos Aires

In 1969, the building was saved from demolition & pharmacy murals restored to their original condition. Currently, the Museo de la Ciudad occupies the upper floor & uses some of the storefront for window displays about life in Buenos Aires:

Farmacia de la Estrella, Buenos Aires

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328. alberto j. belaustegui

Alberto J. Belaustegui, Recoleta Cemetery

As happens so often, if an important person did not establish a family vault during their lifetime, their children usually take on the responsibility. Alberto J. Beláustegui married into the family of one of Argentina’s most famous Merchant Marines: Baron Nicolás Mihanovich.

Born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Mihanovich arrived in South America in 1867. Deciding to establish a river navegation company, by 1900 the business had a fleet of 200 ships, their own drydock facilities & hundreds of employees. But vessels are expensive to maintain & in order to remain profitable, the company became a public corporation with Mihanovich & his family retaining the majority of shares & control.

Nicolás Mihanovich, Recoleta Cemetery

Growth continued at a wild pace. With the acquisition of more second-hand vessels as well as new ships from England, the Mihanovich fleet served half of South America. Local banks were unwilling to deal with such large investment needs, so Mihanovich created a branch in England to keep the cash flowing. The Argentine Navigation Company (Nicolás Mihanovich), Ltd. had approximately 25% British shareholders in 1909… an important fact when World War I began five years later.

By that time, the business had expanded to 5,000 employees & 324 vessels, including trans-Atlantic passenger ships. But Mihanovich had never officially become Argentine, & his company became the subject of aggression in London. His Austro-Hungarian nationality (plus a recently added title of Baron) made investors uneasy dealing with “the enemy.” At the age of 72, Mihanovich was forced to liquidate a large portion of his company, but the ongoing war made that easy due to a high demand for ships.

Nicolás Mihanovich, Recoleta Cemetery

The entire company was eventually acquired by Alberto Dodero & continues to function today, albeit after many name changes & mergers. Several vestiges of the Mihanovich shipping empire remain in Buenos Aires; one very visible example is the company’s main office. Built on Avenida Alem with a direct view to Puerto Madero, the 1912 building stands out for its interesting architecture:

Edificio Mihanovich, Buenos Aires

Edificio Mihanovich, Buenos Aires

The main entrance at the intersection of Perón & 25 de Mayo still displays the Mihanovich logo:

Edificio Mihanovich, Buenos Aires

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