That’s right, everyone’s favorite selfie background is turning 80 today. In addition to serving as the easiest meeting point in Buenos Aires, the monument in fact has a rich and controversial history, including a moment in time when it was the ultimate symbol of protest.
The Obelisco was built in two months (a feat of timeliness never seen in Argentina before of since) in the fall of 1936 after being commissioned by mayor Mariano de Vedia y Mitre. The design was completed by famed Argentine architect Alberto Prebisch who was also responsible for the Teatro Gran Rex and served as the dean of the University of Buenos Aires school of architecture and — fun fact — interim mayor of the city. #themoreyouknow. It was built on the site of the demolished church dedicated to St. Nicholas of Bari, where the national flag was allegedly first raised in 1812. No word on how Jesus felt about that development.
The city council under newly elected President Roberto María Ortiz tried to destroy the Obelisco due to
Power! He was mad he didn’t have two fancy last names! economic, aesthetic and public safety reasons two years later. They were overruled, and our concrete beacon of modern virility still stands today.
It has been decorated over the years for various causes, including celebrating our relationship with Germany (still too soon?) and my personal favorite, as a giant condom for World Aids Day. You stay sexy Buenos Aires!
Today it is not dressed as a giant birthday candle, but make a wish anyways, you know it’s oriented you on your way home on more than one fernet or wine fueled night, been the sight of photos with your parents and perhaps most importantly, appeared on Facebook as the icon under “traveling to” when you informed all your friends that you were pulling a ‘Fievel goes south’ by making a beautiful new porteño life for yourself.