In the Name of Power
Culture and Place Names in Venado Tuerto

Page 3

Foreign Street Names

In 1881 Eduardo Casey started selling the lands of Venado Tuerto, being most of the rural buyers families from the British Isles. Among the buyers of urban lots ethnical diversity was higher. The census of 1887 showed an increasing urbanization. In four years, the urban population was 205 while the rural reached 1,411. The majority of these people were Argentine-born and came from the Santa Fe province. Among the foreign residents, the larger part were Irish and English. [5]

In spite of the larger numbers of Argentines in the population, street names in the original urban planning were associated with the major foreign resident segments, who also concentrated the economic and political power. We found no documents recording the official street naming or their authors. The urban plans were submitted by Casey’s representative, Celestino Rosas. [6] Only five out of twenty streets in the original plan were given names of Irish origin: Casey, Brown, Turner, Gahan, and O’Farrell. [7] All these names belonged to the Irish community and were closely connected to Casey through business relations. Additionally, Turner and Gahan were linked with Casey by family ties.

Plaza General José de San Martín
(Municipality of Venado Tuerto, Official Gazette, 1938)

A second group of streets received women names, such as María, Inés, or Catalina. Supposedly these names had religious of family grounds (Casey’s wife and mother were Mary, and Inés was his wife’s second name). The remainder of the streets had German or English origin: Warner in reference to the designer of the first urban plan, Rodolfo Warner;

Urban plan of 1900, including the original street names (fragment).
(Venado Tuerto Municipal Archives)

  Fair and Runciman [8] for Casey’s key business associates; Klappenbach was mentioned in a celebration at the Buenos Aires Hunting Club [9]; Tetley for a member of the Venado Tuerto Polo and Athletic Club [10]; Tebbut, probably the name of Casey’s Irish partner, who was a member of the first group that visited Venado Tuerto in 1882. [11] About the other street names (Harties, Huxtable, Krabble, Cooper, Kimball, and Harris) we only know that they were of English origin. These later street names were not found among the first settlers. The colonisation process did not assigned any relevance to the original toponymy or to vernacular place names.


New Town, New Names

In 1889, six years after the foundation, the train arrived to Venado Tuerto. It was built by the South of Santa Fe and Córdoba Railway Company. At that time, the city centre was already settled.

The Land Company, subsidiary of the railway company, submitted for approval a new urban plan, which located the city centre to the south of the original place. Hence, New Town Venado Tuerto was created. In fact, the new plan followed a pattern used with other towns: Santa Teresa, San Urbano, Elortondo, Arias, Canals, etc., including the railway and the railway-owned lands on sale along the line. At that time, the 1890s, Casey was no longer operating in the area, and the Land Company became the new owner of the land along the railway. During this period, Italian-born residents predominated in the area and expanded to the rest of Santa Fe province.

Railway Station in 1938
(Municipality of Venado Tuerto, Official Gazette, 1938)

The submitted map of New Town Venado Tuerto included some significant toponymic changes. The streets in the sixty-four blocks around the railway station received new names, which were very much influenced by the Italian immigration: Italia, Milan, Genova, and Garibaldi are some examples. Other street names honoured contemporary politicians both from the province and the nation. It was the case of Galves, Aldao, Quirno, Sarmiento, and Estanislao Lopez (though the latter did not belong to the same period as the others). Other street names had geographical connotations that appeared in the pattern map of the Land Company. There were names taken from towns and lagoons in Santa Fe and Córdoba: Carreras, Funes, Arias, Olmos, Rueda. [12] Nevertheless, we argue that those names were related less to the geographic space than to the cultural heritage and the political and economical space. The strength of political power was reflected in the street names, as it was the case of the Italian place names. All of those spaces represented promising agricultural centres which would comply with the model of a new country, the Patria Gringa, or foreign nation.

In the first years, the Old Town (also known as The Colony) and the New Town remained separated, but then joined their urban plans and the old town had to modify its toponymy. From the time of the foundation and during more or less twenty-five years, the street names of Venado Tuerto embodied the cultural origin of the place, i.e., an Anglo-Irish settlement which was vigorously driven by Italian immigrants to become an important agricultural centre. However, since the original place names disappeared, toponymy revealed the origin of the city but not the memory of the land.

Street Names as Symbols of the National Identity

In 1910 the street denomination changed again. The centenary of the Argentine Independence produced a nationalistic policy to unite the ethnically heterogeneous society of immigrants. The government strategy was to invigorate all factors connected with the Argentine patriotic feeling. [13] The Centenary celebrations were planned in advance and took place at national, provincial and municipal level. Accordingly, several new schools were established in different parts of the country, which were called centennial schools. The same happened with monuments that paid homage to the national heroes.



[5] Some of the 1,338 Argentines were from Santa Fe (734 ), Córdoba (118 ), Santiago del Estero (50), San Juan (39), and Buenos Aires (36). Among the foreign residents, there were English and Irish (45), Spanish (45), Italians (27), French (19), Turks (12), Germans (8), Chileans (5), and others. In R. Landaburu, Gringos (Venado Tuerto: Fondo Editor Mutual, 1991).

[6] Leoncio de la Barrera, op cit.

[7] The outstanding work of Eduardo Coghlan, Los irlandeses en la Argentina: su actuación y descendencia (Buenos Aires, 1987), which records the Irish from their arrival in Argentina to the present time, allowed us to find the Irish origin of some street names.

[8] R. Landaburu, Los irlandeses, op cit.

[9] R. Landaburu, Los irlandeses, op cit. (discourse given by Klappenbach at the Club de Caza de Buenos Aires)

[10] Eduardo E. Huhn, Reseña de Venado Tuerto, 1883-1933 (Buenos Aires: Editorial Amorrortu, 1934). Horse race of 18 April 1892.

[11] Leoncio de la Barrera, op cit.

[12] Diccionario biográfico y geográfico argentino (Buenos Aires: El Ateneo); Olmos is a lagoon in the Córdoba province that flows into Río Cuarto.

[13] La Argentina de 1910, sensibilidad, alegorías, argumento en torno a un centenario in: 'Revista Universaritaria Semestral' Nº 4 Año III First Semester 1993




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Last Update: July 2004




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