The A-line of the Buenos Aires subway system is the oldest in Latin America. Inaugurated in 1913, the line extends over 6 miles west from Plaza de Mayo in downtown Buenos Aires, carrying over 300,000 passengers daily. City mayor Mauricio Macri will shut down the line for two months on 12 January to replace the original cars built in Belgium with upgraded models. This decision turned into a controversial and polemic fight between the pragmatic and romantic visions of life in Buenos Aires. Non-profit organizations, and a handful of city legislators rapidly responded to the news, trying to halt the closure of the line, without success, even pushing to have the trains legally declared part of Argentina’s cultural and historical heritage. The trains were used as commuter trains by the working-class of Buenos Aires, and their maintenance involved a high-level of hand-crafted expertise. The cars might yet be kept for weekend use, but it remains to be seen if romanticism can accommodate efficiency and safety.
Photojournalists Beatrice Murch and Jerry Nelson captured the look and feel of the soon-to-be gone historic wooden cars “La Brugeoise” which have been in service for almost 100 years in a newly released book.