Standing room only on the Subte? Passengers riding the Buenos Aires Metro, 2006.
The Buenos Aires Metro subway system, called the Subte by Porteños, was the first underground metro system in the Southern Hemisphere. Opened in 1913, the B. A. Metro marked the city, and Argentina as a whole, as an up-and-coming world power. Okay, so the bottom fell out in a few years -- you know, economic collapse, fascism, the Madonna movie, desaperecidos, ex-Nazis, that kind of thing -- but, for a while there, Buenos Aires, the Paris of the Southern Cone, was the cock of the walk.
Ghost Train: Interior of a Metro car, 1915
Even after almost a century of operation, Buenos Aires is still the only city in Argentina with a subway system. I hear tell there's a plan for one in Cordoba, the country's second-largest city, but everyone's taking a siesta first to mull it over.
The Buenos Aires Metro project was initially run by three different companies, which, I'm sure, didn't make riding the most convenient experience. It was nationalized in the 1930s but was privatized (under only one company) in 1994. Although it closes every night at 10:30, a trip on the Metro is cheaper than a bus ride, and way cheaper than any subway ride in the United States (costing around $.30 on average, after the economy collapsed about ten years ago). Fortunately, they are working on prepaid passes for the Subte, so one need not hoard one's peso coinage to purchase a boleta.
The Daily Grind: A Metro station in the '30s.
The Metro currently has six separate lines, and over one and a half million passengers ride daily. The most recent line, the Amarillo, was opened in 2007. Three more lines are planned for a city that now has a metropolitan population of over ten million. Fun fact!: The granddaddy of the Subte, the A-line, still uses the original subway cars, now almost a century old.
Favorite Tourist Destination: the National Congress Building, in 1910.
Una Hot Mess: Buenos Aires, c. 1890 (pre-Metro).
A Metro car decked out for a visit from an unknown Prince of Wales (probably that blackguard, the Duke of Windsor) to Buenos Aires
Current B.A. subway route map (actual size!)
So, next time you wake up in a drunken haze and find yourself on the mouth of the River Plate, roll on over to Buenos Aires, and patronize the Subte. It's cheap, historic, and, in lieu of cruising around in weird style on your personal Segway, better than tramping about.