The white tiled thoroughfare, Florida Street runs from Plaza San Martin in Retiro, crossing major streets such as Córdoba, Corrientes, Diagonal Norte and Avenida de Mayo until reaching Rivadavia and turning into Perú Street, where it remains pedestrian until reaching Diagonal Sur. It becomes progressively less touristy and more utilitarian as you make your way south.
On the two blocks between Córdoba and Marcelo T. de Alvear, near the luxury hotels there are an abundance of leather vendors working on commission, professional panhandlers and those raising money for questionable charities.
If harangued, a polite ‘No, gracias,’ usually does the trick. The one exception is the street children – if you’re a softy they may follow you, just be aware that if you give them money you may be encouraging their parents to endanger their children by sending them out in the streets instead of working themselves.
At different points along Florida there is street entertainment — live bands, mimes and tango dancers. Entertainment central is at the cross-streets of Florida and LaValle, another pedestrian thoroughfare hosting arcades, movie theaters and the compulsory grill restaurants. At this corner, until recently known for black-market money exchangers, there is frequently a pedestrian traffic jam as crowds gather to enjoy open-air entertainment, be it a tango show, a comedy act or live music. Some of the entertainment is quite good although the ‘tango shows’ along Florida tend to be just photo-ops with the dancers more focused on extorting money from tourists than actually dancing.
Among the other entertainers along Florida you will find the Paraguayan harp player; human statues including ‘the windswept office worker;’ Rubén Rodríguez a guitarist without legs, known to many Argentines for his depressing role in the new cinema classic, Pizza, Birra y Faso (poorly translated as ‘Pizza, Beer and Cigarettes’) and the rock and ska band, Pollera y Pantalon, often found playing in front of the statue of Roque Sáenz Peña at the cross street of Diagonal Norte.
→ continued: Harrods Buenos Aires and the Decline of Florida Street
← cont. from: Florida —Buenos Aires’ Downtown Pedestrian Mall