From the top, left to right: city skyline, Torre Tanque, fishing boats in the port, Saint Michael chalet, Castagnino Museum, Sea Lion Monument, Torreón del Monje, the Mar del Plata Cathedral, and a panoramic view from Edén Palace
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): La Ciudad Feliz (The Happy City), Mardel, La Perla del Atlántico (The Pearl of the Atlantic)
One of the beaches of Mar del Plata during summer tourism season
Fishing boats at the Port of Mar del plata.
As part of the Argentine recreational coast, tourism is Mar del Plata's main economic activity with seven million tourists visiting the city in 2006. Mar del Plata has a sophisticated tourist infrastructure with numerous hotels, restaurants, casinos, theatres and other tourist attractions. Mar del Plata is also an important sports centre with a multi-purpose Olympic style stadium (first used for the 1978 World Cup and later upgraded for the 1995 Pan American Games), five golf courses and many other facilities.
As an important fishing port, industry concentrates on fish processing and at least two large shipyards.
The area is also host to other light industry, such as textile, food manufacturing and polymers. There is a well-developed packaging machines industry, its quality being recognized in international markets. One of these companies was one of the pioneers in the automatic packaging of tea bags, exporting its original machine-designs abroad. Another company also exports its products and sold royalties to other countries.
During the mid-1980s, Mar del Plata saw the birth of electronics factories, focused mostly on the telecommunications field, with two of them succeeding in the international market.
Since the 2000s, a local company builds and develops oil industry equipment, with customers in the United States, Russia, Oman and Egypt.
Located southwest of the city there are quartzite quarries. The stone is traditionally used in construction. There is a huge area of farms in the rural areas surrounding the city, specialized mostly in the cultivation of vegetables.
Although the area had suffered from a high rate of unemployment from 1995 to 2003, Mar del Plata has seen 46,000 new jobs created from the third quarter of 2003 to the third quarter of 2008, representing an increase of 22%.
Highway 2 connects Mar del Plata with Buenos Aires and Route 11 connects it through the coastline, ending at Miramar, 40 km (25 mi) south of Mar del Plata. Route 88 connects to Necochea and Route 226 to Balcarce, Tandil and Olavarría.
From the 1950s to the 1970s there was a construction boom in the city
Pre-Spanish era: The region was inhabited by Günuna Kena nomads (also known as northern Tehuelches). They were later (after the 11th century) strongly influenced by the Mapuche culture.
1577–1857: First European explorers. Sir Francis Drake made a reconnaissance of the coast and its sea lion colonies; Don Juan de Garay explored the area by land a few years later. In 1742, during the War of Jenkin's Ear, eight survivors of HMS Wager, part of Admiral Anson expedition, and led by Isaac Morris, lived through a ten-months ordeal before being decimated and captured by the Tehuelches, who eventually handed them to the Spaniards. After holding the Englishmen as prisoners, they returned Morris and his companions to London in 1746. First colonization attempt by Jesuit Order near Laguna de los Padres ended in disaster (1751).
1857–1874: The Portuguese entrepreneur José Coelho de Meirelles, taking advantage of the country's abundance of wild cattle, built a pier and a factory for salted meat, but the business only lasted a few years.
1874–1886: Patricio Peralta Ramos acquired the now abandoned factory along with the surrounding terrain, and founded the town on February 10, 1874. Basque rancher Pedro Luro bought a part of Peralta Ramos land for agricultural production. First docks also erected around this time.
1886–1911: The railway line from Buenos Aires, built by the Buenos Aires Great Southern reached Mar del Plata in 1886; the first hotels started their activity. The upper-class people from Buenos Aires became the first tourist of the new born village. They also established a local government that reflected their conservative ideals. Build-up of a French style resort. On 19 July 1907, the provincial legislature approved a bill that declared Mar del Plata as a city.
1911–1930: The residents, mostly new arrived immigrants from Europe, demanded and obtained the control of the Municipality administration. The socialist were the mainstream political force in this period, carrying out social reforms and public investment. The main port was also built and inaugurated in 1916.
1930–1946: A military coup reinstated the Conservative hegemony in politics through electoral fraud and corruption, but in the local level they were quite progressive, their policies viewed in some way as a continuity of the socialist trend. In 1932, the construction of National Route 2 was completed, which connected Mar del Plata to Buenos Aires. Before this, a dirt road connected Mar del Plata to Buenos Aires using a different route, required almost 2 days to travel. The seaside Casino complex opened in 1939, was designed by architect Alejandro Bustillo, dates from this period.
1946–1955: Birth of the Peronist movement. A coalition between socialists and radicals defeated this new party by a narrow margin in Mar del Plata, but by 1948 Peronism came to dominate the local administration. The massive tourism, triggered by the welfare politics of Perón and the surge of the middle class marked a huge growth in the city's economy.
1955–1970: After the fall of Perón, the socialists regained the upper hand in local politics; the city reached the peak in activities like construction business and building industry. Massive immigration from other regions of Argentina.
1970–1989: Slight decline of tourism demand, counterbalanced by the increasing of other industries such as fishing and machinery. General infrastructure renewal under the military rule. The centrist Radical Civic Union becomes the main political force after the return of Democracy in 1983.
1989–present: Though the Peronism replaced the radicals in central government amid a national financial crisis, the latter party continued to rule in Mar del Plata. Some resurge of mass tourism in the early '90s was followed by a deep social crisis in town, with an increase of poverty, jobless rate and emigration. By contrast, the first decade of the 21st century shows an amazingly quick recovery in all sectors of the ailing economy.
Mar del Plata is the most popular destination for conventions in Argentina after Buenos Aires. Mar del Plata has a wide range of services in this sector. The summer season hosts over fifty theatrical plays.
The Fiesta Nacional del Mar ("National Sea Festival") with the election and coronation of the Sea Queen and her princesses, which takes place in December as the official inauguration of the summer season.
The Premios Estrella de Mar ("Sea Star Awards") which honor the best stage plays and shows of the season.
The Valencian Falles week, a local reenactment of the Valencian event conducted by the Valencian community.
The Mar del Plata Fashion Show, along with a number of fashion parades that gathers the best haute couture designers.
The Prosa Mutante is a cycle of literary experiences and arts collective established in January 2013 that takes place since then every Thursday from 20:00 at Piano Bar in which stage over 100 local, national and international artists have performed.
The local Government sponsors a Symphonic Orchestra, as well as a two Conservatoriums (Classical and popular music) and a School of Classical and Modern Dance.
Mario Benedetti (1945), electronics engineer, the main Argentine scientist involved in the Large Hadron Collider project. He is also the owner of Tío Curzio, one of the most fashionable restaurants in the city.
The development of the city as a seasonal summer resort in the early 20th century led upper class tourists from Buenos Aires to build a European-inspired architecture, based mainly on the picturesque and later on the art deco styles. This gave Mar del Plata the nickname of the Argentine Biarritz. The building industry became the main non-seasonal activity of the town by 1920.
During the '30s,'40s, and beyond, local architects and builders, like Auro Tiribelli, Arturo Lemmi, Alberto Córsico-Picollini and Raúl Camusso recreated and transformed the picturesque values into a middle-class scale, marking the beginning of a vernacular architecture, called Mar del Plata Style, consisting in small samples of the luxury-laden summer residences of high society, built for the summer visitor as well as for the local resident.
These chalets were built with stone façades, gables roofs covered with Spanish or French tiles, prominent eaves and front porches. This gives the town some distinctive urban character compared with other Argentine cities, despite the fact that the growing mass of tourists in the '60s imposed the construction of large apartment buildings and skyscrapers as the predominant architectural style downtown.
Mar del Plata has an oceanic climate (Cfb, according to the Köppen climate classification), with humid and moderate summers and relatively cool winters, although polar air masses from Antarctica are frequent. The average temperatures for January reach 20 °C (68 °F) and 8 °C (46 °F) for July. The West-Southwest winds bring down the temperature below 0 °C (32 °F), while the Southeast ones (the so-called Sudestada) are stronger, producing coastal showers and rough seas, as well as strong squalls, but the cold is much less intense.
A snowy dawn at Playa Grande, July 10, 2004
The city's summer maximum temperatures fluctuate broadly around the average of 27 °C (81 °F): while there are many days between 30 °C (86 °F) and 35 °C (95 °F), strong on-shore or southerly winds can also keep temperatures closer to 20 °C (68 °F), and nights can sometimes be very cool even in midsummer (falling below 10 °C (50 °F) sometimes). Traditionally, Easter is seen as the "last" weekend to go to the beach in the Argentine Atlantic coast, and average maximum temperatures are around 23 °C (73 °F) at that time. While some years can have the last few days of 25 °C (77 °F) to 30 °C (86 °F) around that time, it is also entirely possible to experience daily highs of 15 °C (59 °F). Winter temperatures average 12 °C (54 °F) during the day and 3 °C (37 °F) at night; they sometimes climb to 18 °C (64 °F) for a couple of days, but there are also days where highs stay around 6 °C (43 °F) and temperatures fall a few degrees below 0 °C (32 °F) at night.
Spring brings the most variable weather, with heat waves bringing highs of 35 °C (95 °F) followed by highs of 10 °C (50 °F) to 15 °C (59 °F) and perhaps a late-season frosty night all perfectly possible in October and November.
There are about six days of frost each year in the city center, and almost 27 recorded at the airport. The average dates for the first and last frost are May 23 and October 4 respectively. Snowfall is not uncommon, but snow accumulation on the ground is rare, a phenomenon that takes place every six years or so, according to the last 40 year's data. Among the most best known such occurrences in the latest decades were the 1975 and 1991 snowstorms, but there were also snow accumulations in 1994 and 1997 in the highest hills area of Sierra de los Padres, in 1995 along the southern coast, and other two during the first hours of July 10, 2004, July 15, 2010, and again in Sierra de los Padres and the southern coast on 11 September 2015. There were flurries in September 1986, June 2007, July 2011 and August 2013.
There is fog in the last days of fall, and springtime is often marred by sea winds and sudden temperature's changes. There are some ten days of 30 °C (86 °F) each summer, certainly milder values than the rest of the pampas region. Usually, the summer nights are cool and pleasant, with values between 13 °C (55 °F) to 17 °C (63 °F). The record high is 41.6 °C (107 °F) on January 28, 1957 while the record low is −9.3 °C (15 °F) on July 6, 1988. The wet season occurs during spring and summer, especially in January, with values between 70 millimetres (3 in) and 80 millimetres (3 in). The average annual rainfall is 780 millimetres (31 in).
Climate data for Mar del Plata (1961–1990, extremes 1931–present)
Mar del Plata is the head of the department of General Pueyrredón. The current Mayor of the city and department is Carlos Arroyo, of the Cambiemos party.
The town council has some legislative powers. The term of office for both the Mayor and council members is four years.
In 1919, Mar del Plata became the first town in South America to have a Socialist Mayor, a son of Italian Immigrants, Teodoro Bronzini. The Socialist Party would dominate the city political landscape for most of the 20th century.
Mar del Plata has had 109 Mayors and Commissioners from 1881 to the present.
There is an extensive but interesting work by the American sociologist Susan Stokes about the democratic process in Mar del Plata since 1983 in comparison to other regions of Argentina. One of the main thesis of her articles is that the social and economic development of Mar del Plata was quite atypical, with a strong prevalence of middle-class values that discouraged the policy of clientelism that is the common background in other urban environments of Argentina.
In 2003 the city hosted the 2nd Parapan American Games that featured 1,500 athletes from 28 countries competed in nine sporting events. This was the last Parapan American Games that was not tied to the Pan American Games.
The 20th World Transplant Games were held in the city from 23 to 30 August 2015.
^Creemos, sin embargo, que por ser el primer contacto que los hombres del Río de la Plata tomaron con el mar se llamó a este punto precisamente mar "del Plata". Cova, Roberto Osvaldo:Síntesis histórica de Mar del Plata: notas para el conocimiento del origen, evolución y desarrollo de la ciudad y de la zona. 1969, p. 8 (Spanish)
Cacopardo, Fernando A. & others: Mar del Plata, Ciudad e Historia. Alianza Editorial S.A./UNMDP, Madrid/Buenos Aires, 1997. ISBN 950-40-0155-6. (Spanish)
Rocatagliata, Juan A. & others: Mar del Plata y su Región. Sociedad Argentina de Estudios Geográficos, Buenos Aires, 1984. (Spanish)
Anniversary Editions of La Capital newspaper: 1955, 1980, 1985, 2005. (Spanish)
Barili, Roberto T.: Mar del Plata, Reseña Histórica. Published by the Municipality of Gral. Pueyrredón, Mar del Plata, 1964. (Spanish)
Zago, Manrique: Mar del Plata, Argentina. Manrique Zago Ed., 1997. (Bilingual Edition)
Stokes, Susan C.:Do Informal Institutions Make Democracy Work? Accounting for Accountability in Argentina. University of Chicago. Prepared for presentation at the conference, "Informal Institutions in Latin America". University of Notre Dame, April 23–24, 2003.
Shapiro, Ian and Bedi, Sonu : Political Contingency: Studying the Unexpected, the Accidental, and the Unforeseen. New York University Press, 2007. ISBN 0-8147-4044-8
Helmke, Gretchen and Levitsky, Steven: Informal Institutions and Democracy:Lessons from Latin America. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-8018-8351-2