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Magellan Map depicting the Coast of Chile,
The city of Santiago de Chile was founded on the 12th of February of 1541. The earliest settlement was set in the strategic valley of Mapocho on the slopes of the Santa Lucia hill. By the late 16th century, Santiago was a settlement of just 200 houses, inhabited by 700 Spaniards, plus their thousands of Indian laborers and servants, and a growing population of mestizos. During the sixteenth century, the city still was still subject to incursions by indigenous forces resisting the Spanish invasion.
Palacio de la Moneda, Today
Illustration of the Palacio de la Moneda, ca 1800
For over two centuries, Santiago remained the only city in Central Chile, while great farms known as haciendas formed the basis of rural society. During the late 18th century, European architects began to grace the capital with elegant works such as the Palacio de la Moneda.
Plaza Italia, Works for the electrical train, December 12, 1927.
It was not until the late 18th century that Santiago slowly began to acquire some of the trappings of a city. But progress was slow, and when colonial rule ended in the early 19th century Santiago had barely 30,000 residents. City streets remained largely unpaved, and most country roads were still potholed tracks. There were few schools and libraries, and cultural life was bleak.
National Library, founded in 1813
Revolutionary ideas were quick to brew in this outpost of the Spanish Empire, and on September 18, 1810, independence was declared in the Real Audiencia building, adjacent to Santiago's historic Plaza de Armas. Independence would bring forth new-found wealth to Chile principally from the nitrate fields in the northern deserts.
View from the Mapocho train station,
March de 1919
Railyay Station of Mapocho,
May 3 de 1920
In just a few decades after independence, the capital grew to more than 100,000 inhabitants. Railway and telegraph lines linked the city to Valparaíso, by that time a bustling commercial port with a population of 60,000.
Gardens of the Cerro Santa LucíaEnero 12 de 1928
Images of the Palace of High Arts,
founded in 1910
By the early twentieth century, Santiago inhabitants saw the construction of several monumental works that were to completely transform the capital. The creation of extensive parks and gardens, a fine arts museum, and new bridges over the Mapocho river were among the most important works of this era.
Downtown Santiago, May 4 de 1920
Modernization of the principal street of SantiagoAril 21 de 1922
New York Street, 1923
New York Street, January 10, 1927
Bandera Street, March 23, 1927
During the first decades of the twentieth century, unprecedented economic growth added scores of high rises and spotless residential neighborhoods to Santiago's panorama of historic architecture.
Palacio de la Moneda, target of attacks, 1973
However, the city also experienced violence and unrest over the course of the twentieth century. One of the city’s darkest moments was the 1973 military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet against the democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende. It used artillery fire and air attacks that left monuments such as the presidential Palacio de la Moneda unusable for more than a decade. The military regime also carried out systematic assassinations of suspected leftists, leaving hundreds of the city’s citizens dead.