Balvanera, also known as Once, is an area that is constantly changing, and its mixed aspect can be percieved as the result of a blend of completely different parts. It is a very active place, densly populated, and full of traffic.
Balvanera also has a lot of apartment buildings and other kinds of houses. Most of them are old and have a long history, including ones that have been immortalized in the poetry of a few of the most famous writers of Argentina. An example is the house on the Norwest corner of the avenues Corrientes and Pueyrredón, which is said by some to have been used by Baldomero Fernández Moreno in his "Setenta Balcones". It is a highly Jewish area, being the place where the Hebrew community has promoted commercial activities since the beginning of the 20th century. Lately, a Korean community has also come to be a regular part of the daily life of Balvanera, or Once as most of the locals say. It is one of the business areas of The City of Buenos Aires, and the public transports begin and end their routes at the Plaza Miserere, or Plaza Once. This is the area of the whole sellers, and can definitely be concidered quite rowdy place. The large amount of street vendors destinguishes this area from many other neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires, and you can almost feel like you are in a Persian market. Once is a very charming area and can be fun to walk through, but to some the excess of movement can be very tiring.
In Balvanera there are a lot of narrow streets, all part of the history of Buenos Aires. They are not straight, something unusual in downtown Buenos Aires, and there are winding passages around the whole area.
For about 50 years, the famous "Mercado de Abasto" was in business. Its last "appearance to the public" was in 1987, when Luciano Pavarotti recorded a special show for the RAI there and during the show he sang "Cancion de Buenos Aires" among others. Today the market has been re-opened, but it has been remodeled into a modern mall, containing hundreds of stores, a big food court, movie theatres, etc.
It is said that the "quiniela" (a lottery) was born in the Abasto area, since Don Jose Betronila was the first seller of the game from his "cigarreria" on Corrientes Avenue.
There are two versions about where the name Miserere comes from; some say its from the Latin word "Miserere" and means "have compassion", refering to the slaughter that took place at the "Matadero" of the west where animals were put to sleep. Others say it was named after the former owner of the lands where Plaza Once is today.
Finally, the word "Once" is given by the date of the "Batalla de Pavón"(Battle of Pavon), the 11 of September of 1852. One of the most famous persons from this area is "el Morocho del Abasto", "Zorzal Criollo" or "El Jilguero de Balvanera", as people used to call him; Carlos Gardel. He lived with his mother in a house on Rincon, 137. He visited the coffee house O´Rondeman regularly, which was also visited by politicians and commoners. Here Gardel and Razzano (another neighbor) started singing. The "Casa de Carlos Gardel", is on the street Jean Jaures, 735. It was once the singers property, but is now a famous "Tangueria", where tango shows can be enjoyed by anyone visiting Balvanera.
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- Balvanera - Once, is also known as Abasto and Barrio Norte, and limits with the areas of: Boedo, Almagro, Recoleta, San Nicolas, Monserrat, Constitución and San Cristobal.