Mar del Plata is the second largest city in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The name “Mar del Plata” is a shortening of “Mar del Rio de la Plata,” and has the meaning of “sea of the Rio de la Plata basin” or “adjoining sea to the (River) Plate region.”
From the 1910s, the residents, mostly new arrived immigrants from Europe, demanded and obtained the control of the Municipality administration. The socialist were the mainstream political force in this period, carrying out social reforms and public investment. The main port was also built and inaugurated in 1916.
The first military coup in Argentina’s history took place on September 6, 1930, restoring the conservative hegemony in all levels of Government, including the local one. Although unpopular and fraudulent, this old new order brought some progress and investment to an ailing country in the climax of the Great Depression. Mass tourism began to arrive in this decade, helped by improved roads, but it took off in the 1940s and 1950s, when the development of union-run hotels under the Perón presidency put the city within the reach of Argentina’s middle and working classes.
These amazing photographs below, taken by LIFE photographer Hart Preston (1910–2009), show what life was like in Mar del Plata in the early 1940s.
(Photos by Hart Preston)