Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Liverpool & Valpo

Perhaps unknown to most people, Valparaiso and Liverpool share a long story of nearly two centuries of people and commerce exchanges. These exchanges started in Chile soon after independence (1818) when British commerce started to set shop in Valpo. The result, at the turn of the XIX century, over half of shipping arriving to Valparaiso (photo above) had a british flag, and many of these ships claimed a home at Liverpool. Much of this commercial story have been told by historians such as Juan Ricardo Couyoumdjian. Nevertheless, another part of this more hidden story is what is provided by anecdotical information from journals such as those by Maria Graham (1822), Charles Darwin (1834-35) and many others as well as those stories told in many letters that made the ports of Liverpool and Valparaiso the main postal office hubs for overseas mailing linking the west coast of South America with Europe up to the II World war.
Valpo still have many scripts left in buildings showing this old link with Liverpool. But in Liverpool itself, it seems there are no architectural testimonies showing this link with Valpo. Notwithstanding, there are other examples such as the old shanties folk songs from the sailing era, as well as a well known restaurant (photo left) at downtown.
This year Liverpool is cultural capital of Europe and it is also celebrating its 800th anniversary. Now, Valparaiso is preparing to be host of the World Cultural Forum 2010 and it should be also the time to invite Liverpool to be our guest city at the next Carnavales culturales de Valparaiso, the largest national cultural venue we have in Chile.