Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

Good Urbanism is Worth the Wait – Valparaiso, Chile

Dateline: 5:22 pm August 22, 2018 Filed under:

Valparaiso, Chile is my new favorite city. Its faded glory is encapsulated by walking the streets and admiring glorious views of the bay while dodging dog poo. Valparaiso gained fortune by becoming an important port for ships rounding Cape Horn. All that changed when the Panama Canal opened and the city slid into decline. Valparaiso’s fortunes have recovered in recent years, and today the city is renowned as a quirky place for public art, famous for its murals, large and small.

First proposed in the 1960s when artists, most notably Pablo Neruda, settled in Valparaiso and pushed for art as a means of giving the city a boost.

Public art doesn’t always come easy. In this case, the formal mural program had to wait out the Pinochet dictatorship, so it wasn’t until the 1990s that Valparaiso finally began its mural program.

Sometimes an idea is ahead of its time. Sometimes good urbanism has to wait for the right time, for the stars to align.

It is important to remember that the arc of history bends towards justice, and anything good in this life is worth fighting for.

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