But there is more to this small street and tourist attraction than first meets the eye.Around 6 million foreign immigrants poured into Argentina between the years 18, in which time Buenos Aires quickly turned from small town to heaving city.The main accusation that Caminito’s detractors throw about is that it is not authentic – in its current form, the street does not date back to the turn of the 20th century when the real conventillos were first built and lived in.
Well, the majority of these Italian immigrants in La Boca worked in the port, just as they had done in Genoa.
The Genoese proudly brought their unique identity to La Boca, and one of their old traditions was to paint the outside of their homes with the leftover paint from the shipyard – as nothing else was available or could be afforded.
And in keeping with the Italian tradition of the neighborhood, tango is full of passion, style, arrogance, showmanship, and feelings of nostalgia and longing (possibly for the Italian homeland).
And of course, the lyrics are usually infused with slang dialect of Spanish corrupted with the Italian language and accent.
He had become the most significant painter in Argentina, with his dramatic paintings of the port of La Boca, and achieved worldwide recognition.
But as La Boca was his inspiration, and had provided him with family, friends and shelter after having been orphaned at an early age, he felt he owed the barrio something in return.And so in 1959, Quinquela Martin and his artist friends created the street of Caminito, as a means of recreating the way old La Boca used to look – a reminder of where everyone had come from, not just in La Boca, but Buenos Aires, and Argentina, because this barrio and its port had been the gateway for many immigrants into this city and country (up until Puerto Madero & then Puerto Nuevo were built as replacements in the early 1900s), who then went on to make Buenos Aires and Argentina what they are today.What Quinquela Martin did was to rescue bits and pieces of the original immigrant conventillos that were being torn down and replaced, and used them to create a concentrated conventillo community around this small street, in what is essentially an uninhabited open-air art and history exhibit, and officially the world’s first outdoor pedestrian museum.It was on the outdoor patios in the center of the conventillos, where immigrants socialised together and played their musical instruments to each other after a hard day’s work, that this most probably occurred.And so, as Caminito is representative of the old immigrant La Boca, it is also a representation of the genesis of Tango music that occurred at the same time here in history.Whereas in somewhere like San Telmo, for example, conventillos were generally old converted mansions large houses, in La Boca they had to be more inventive.