Bunt und desolat – Bright and Bleak

Bunt und desolat  (English text s. below)

Die bunten Häuser in El Caminito, dem “kleinen Weg”, von La Boca sind ein absoluter Touristenmagnet. Die Geschichte dahinter ist jedoch eine andere als die farbenfrohe Welt der Touristen. Vor über hundert Jahren waren die Hafenarbeiter so arm, dass sie nicht in richtigen Häusern aus Stein wohnen konnten. Stattdessen errichteten Häuser und Hütten aus Wellblech, das auf Schiffen oder den Hafenanlagen nicht mehr benötigt wurde. Und damit das Blech nicht rostete, strichen sie es mit übrig gebliebener Schiffsfarbe an.

Als der neue Hafen von Buenos Aires, Puerto Madero, gebaut wurde, zogen die Hafenarbeiter aus La Boca weg und das alte Hafenviertel verfiel. In den 50ern kam der international bekannte Künstler Benito Quinquela Martín auf die Idee, das arme Viertel von La Boca wiederzubeleben und die Häuser wieder so bunt wie damals anzustreichen. So wurde aus La Boca das Open-Air-Museum von Buenos Aires.

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Bright and Bleak

The colourful houses in El Caminito, the “little way”, of La Boca are an absolute tourist hotspot. The story behind, however, differs from the colourful world of the tourists. More than hundred years ago the dock workers were so poor that they couldn’t afford to live in real houses built of stone. Instead they could only build houses using cast-away pieces of corrugated iron from the ships and docks. And to prevent rust, they painted it with left-over paint for ships.

When the new harbour of Buenos Aires, Puerto Madero, was built the dock workers left La Boca and the old harbour area fell into decline. In the 50’s the internationally renowned artist Benito Quinquela Martín had the idea of reviving the poor neighbourhood of La Boca and again painting the houses as brightly as before. This way La Boca became the open air museum of Buenos Aires.

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