Buenos Aires Stay describes San Nicolas on our websites as part of our Centro or Downtown area, to help our clients who choose to sightsee and wish to stay in Buenos Aires’ Central Business District.
San Nicolas is sandwiched between Retiro and Monserrat. Monserrat is one of Buenos Aires’ oldest barrios and home to many of Buenos Aires city’s oldest buildings and government institutions.
San Nicolas is home to most of Buenos Aires central business district and is great for both business travelers and tourists looking for great value Buenos Aires accommodation.
San Nicolas is more often referred to as El Centro (“the City Centre”) and locals know the area east of the 9 de Julio Avenue as Microcentro or (“Downtown”). These descriptions and neighborhoods can confuse travelers not familiar with Buenos Aires, so we make no apologies for describing San Nicolas, some parts of Retiro, Monserrat and Balvanera as Downtown or Centro Buenos Aires, because they are central, busy, commercially driven and in or around the central Buenos Aires business district.
San Nicolás acquired its approximate and present layout in 1936 when five city blocks were demolished (including numerous historical landmarks, such as the Mercado del Plata and San Nicolás Parish) to build the first stage of the Ninth of July Avenue.
The borders of San Nicolas are the major city Avenues Córdoba, Callao, Rivadavia, La Rábida Norte and Eduardo Madero.
Buenos Aires city planners consecrated and started developing the area in 1773 to develop the San Nicolás Parish.
City planners later demolished San Nicolas Parish to make way for Avenida 9, de Julio, one of the widest avenues in the world. Works started on 9 Julio in 1888, but property owners fought to protect the original neighborhood, so works were held up until 1935 – the first phase of the avenue inaugurated on 9 July 1937, although not completed until the 1960s.
In May 1936, planners erected Buenos Aires’ iconic obelisk to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first founding of the city. ‘El Obleisco’ is located in the center of the Plaza de la República, on the exact spot where Belgrano’s Argentine flag was hoisted and flown for the first time (intersection of 9 de Julio and Corrientes avenues). Its total height is 67 meters (220 ft) and its base area is 49 square meters (530 square feet). Designed by architect Alberto Prebisch, its construction took just three weeks and 22 days.
San Nicolas Buenos Aires prospered during the short-lived Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata and Buenos Aires merchants had Boneo’s Pier built in 1802, which quickly becoming the city’s main shipping terminal.
The British opened a consulate here in 1794, and a sizable British community grew up in area, known as the British borough, the growth of British expatriates and traders continued even after the failed British invasion 1806-1807.
A British historian told us recently that powerful landowners in both Montevideo and Buenos Aires provoked the British invasion when they realized that Spain would probably fall to Napoleon.
The dire mismanagement of the invasions, the battles of Defensa and Reconquista (the name taken from the epic battles to retake the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors) caused mass desertion and casualties with both expeditions failing and the last battle leaving a sizable part of British forces still in Buenos Aires.
This ‘hiccup’ did not blight the British appetite for Buenos Aires and Argentina. The British were back in force after 1808, Britain fighting as Spain’s ally supporting the Junta of Seville to restore Spanish King Ferdinand, but at the same time providing military advice and money from the City of London to ensure that the penniless Ferdinand would never gain a foothold in Rio del la Plata Basin.
The British founded the English Merchants’ Society in 1810 and the British Consulate became home to the first modern bank in Buenos Aires, in 1822
Enjoying close commercial ties to the British Empire, in 1830, Governor Juan Manuel de Rosas, the much-feared dictator for most of the early nineteenth century donated land in the area for the benefit of the new St. John the Baptist Anglican Church, the oldest Anglican Church in Buenos Aires.
A growing community from the United States established the first Methodist church nearby in 1836. In 1854, the growing importance of San Nicolas brought the establishment of the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange.
The British investors of the nineteenth century are long gone, but San Nicolás remains the financial center of Argentina, something underscored by the presence of the Argentine Central Bank and the National Bank, Argentina’s largest. The famous Teatro Colon is located in the barrio of San Nicolas.