Thursday 1 November 2007
Banks of Valparaiso
As you should already know if you've been reading this blog for a while, Valparaiso was once one of the world's most important ports. It was home to South America's first stock exchange and then the nitrate boom in the north really kicked things off. Valparaiso was the banking centre of the nitrate industry, where all the financial deals that made quite a few people incredibly rich (not the poor workers, of course-mainly foreign i.e. British companies and individuals) were done. This was banking globalisation in the 1800s and early 1900s. These banks left behind some of the best of Valparaiso's downtown architecture, especially on Calles Prat and Cochrane .
Today's banks take their place, some in the original buildings, some in new ones. And there are a lot of banks in Valparaiso, despite the city only recently starting to emerge from decades of gloom...
So here are a few photos of Valparaiso's Wall Street.
This is the incredibly gorgeous Banco Santander that used to be the Banco Londres. It's really quite spectacular inside, identical to a fussy old bank in the City (London, that is) with beautiful woodwork, cornices and mosaic tiles. You'll have to take my word for it-i wasn't allowed to take photos inside when i asked a few weeks ago. Understandable- it is a bank.
There's another Santander opposite
Banco de Chile (also pretty fine inside)
Technically not a bank, Servipag is where you go to pay your bills
Banco Edwards (now part of Banco de Chile)
BCI workers get the worst bank building in the city
Banco Condell has a slightly groovy building to call home