In recent years the travel industry has promoted trips to cultural landscapes that contain great historical and symbolic landmarks, and Latin American towns and cities are anything but isolated from this trend. Many historic city centers in Latin America have been preserved intact from the colonial era and today may serve institutional, commercial, or residential needs. Now economic forces from outside the region have created a demand for the preservation of historically "authentic" districts.
This book explores how heritage tourism and globalization are reshaping the Latin American centro histórico, analyzing the transformation of the urban core from town plaza to historic center in nine cities: Bogotá, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Cartagena, Colombia; Cuenca, Ecuador; Havana, Cuba; Montevideo, Uruguay; Puebla, Mexico; Quito, Ecuador; and Trinidad, Cuba. It tells how these pressures, combined with the advantage of a downtown location, have raised the potential of redeveloping these inner city areas but have also created the dilemma of how to restore and conserve them while responding to new economic imperatives.
In an eclectic and interdisciplinary study, Joseph Scarpaci documents changes in far-flung corners of the Latin American metropolis using a broad palette of tools: urban morphology profiles, an original land-use survey of 30,000 doorways in nine historic districts, numerous photographs, and a review of the political, economic, and globalizing forces at work in historic districts. He examines urban change as reflected in architectural styles, neighborhood growth and decline, real estate markets, and local politics in order to show the long reach of globalization and modernity.
Plazas and Barrios spans all of Spanish-speaking America to address the socio-political dimensions of urban change. It offers a means for understanding the tensions between the modern and traditional aspects of the built environment in each city and provides a key resource for geographers, urban planners, architectural historians, and all concerned with the implications of the emerging global economy.