Council of National Monuments
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Iquique is a city whose development was closely linked to the sodium nitrate industry, which starts its operations with the first shipment of nitrate to Europe in 1830. The second half of the XIX century is a period of great expansion, both regarding the nitrate exploitation and the growth of the city. This was so, in spite of two earthquakes (in 1868 and 1877) and two devastating fires (between 1880 and 1885) which destroyed an important number of blocks of downtown Iquique. Still, the last years of last century and the two first decades of the present century are the most thriving, and those which give to Iquique the urban and architectural stamp which it preserves to this day. The fact that this city stood in the middle of the desert, at a great distance of large urban centers; that it kept contacts by sea with important ports (San Francisco, Hamburg, Rotterdam, etc.); that it lodged a significant percentage of foreigners among its population (specially English and North Americans), plus the peculiarity itself of the nitrate exploitation, were the elements accounting for Iquique's intense cultural exchange, which prompted a particular way of life and a very peculiar architecture. This architecture, of which Baquedano Street is an outstanding example, was able of wisely adapting itself to the climatic conditions prevailing in Iquique. This was mainly achieved by means of the use of suitable technologies and architectural and constructive solutions. The buildings on Baquedano Street and, in general, all those which have been built following the traditional architecture of the city, correspond to stores or to houses of immigrants who amassed fortunes thanks to the nitrate works. The buildings are of a sort which can be characterized by three elements: the boilding material is Oregon pine -which had to be imported from remote areas-, the constructive method is that of simple framework or 'Ballon Frame", and their architectural style is the 4American" or some of its derivatives (Georgian, Greek Revival, Adam). With regard to the patterns characterizing these buildings, we can mention the construction following a continuous frontage (façades), the verticality and lightness of the houses, the organization of spaces around a central nucleus, the presence of the vestibule, the use of the verandah and of skylights or lanterns, the use of watchtowers, and the aerial or shady roof over the terrace roof. The Baquedano Street starts in Prat Square, forming with it an outstanding group of urban and architectural expression which fully symbolizes the nature of the nitrate epic deed. Among this group, there are exceptional monuments such as the Clock Tower, the Building for the Tarapaca's Employees Society, the Municipal Theater and the Astoreca Palace. The first three buildings are located in Prat Square, and the last one in Baquedano Street. Likewise, there are other buildings of great value, such as the Yugoslav Club, the ex Courts of Justice, and the Spanish Social Club.