Exposición Internacional 1910. Buenos Aires. Didactic leisure and international recognition

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    International exhibitions were greatly responsible for the modernization of western society. The motive for these events was based on the possibility of enhancing the country’s international status abroad. The genesis of world exhibitions came from the conviction that humanity as a whole would improve the continual flow of new practical applications, the development of modern communication techniques and the social need for a medium that could acquaint the general public with changes in technology, economy and society .
    Since the first national industrial exhibitions in Paris during the eighteenth century and especially starting from the first Great Exhibition in London’s Hyde Park in 1851 these international events spread steadily all over Europe and the United States, to reach Latin America in the beginnings of the twentieth century . The work of professionals such as Daniel Burnham, Werner Hegemann and Elbert Peets made the relation between exhibitions and urban transformation a much more connected one, setting a precedent for subsequent exhibitions.
    In Buenos Aires, the celebration of the centennial of independence from Spain in 1910 had many meanings and repercussions. A series of factors allowed for a moment of change in the city. Official optimism, economical progress, inequality and social conflict made of this a suitable time for transformation. With the organization of the Exposición Internacional the government had, among others, one specific aim: to achieve a network of visual tools to set the feeling of belonging and provide an identity for the mixture of cultures that populated the city of Buenos Aires at the time. Another important objective of the government was to put Buenos Aires at the level of European cities.
    Foreign professionals had a great influence in the conceptual and factual shaping of the exhibition and in the subsequent changes caused in the urban condition. The exhibition had an important role in the ways of thinking the city and in the leisure ideas it introduced. The exhibition, as a didactic tool, worked as a precedent for conceiving leisure spaces in the future. Urban and landscape planners such as Joseph Bouvard and Charles Thays were instrumental in great part of the design of the Exhibition, but it was not only the architects and designers who shaped the identity of the fair. Other visitors such as Jules Huret or Georges Clemenceau were responsible for giving the city an international image it did not previously have.
    This paper will explore on the one hand the significance of the exhibition of 1910 for the shaping of the city and its image; and on the other hand, the role of foreign professionals and the reach these influences had.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPublic versus private planning: themes, trends, and tensions
    Subtitle of host publicationIPHS International Planning History Society
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2008

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