Today’s Teniente Ibañez neighborhood was once a desolated area where the only point of reference was the Good Shepherd Church. With the first constructions in the mid 50’s, little by little, people began to settle the area.

The history of Teniente Ibañez neighborhood began with the conveyance of the land of the Good Shepherd Church between 1906 and 1908. In 1907, the city of Iquique lived one of the many tragic episodes of its history: The Santa Maria School massacre, the mineworkers’ emblematic landmark that pushed to the start the social struggle against the irrationality of the government’s dominant class.

During this period, construction works to give the city religious, educational, and social coverage started. These works driven by the government and local philanthropists encouraged the arrival of different religious congregations, among them the Sisterhood of the Good Shepherd. (Santelices. Fuentealba: 2010)

The Sisterhood of the Good Shepherd arrived in Iquique in 1902 with the mission of helping low-class young people and to do so, they sought funding for the construction of a shelter home. A piece of land located around the current Luis Cruz Martínez, Orella, and O’Higgins streets was donated by Nemesio Landeta, who conveyed the land to the Sisterhood through public deed in 1906, which was built upon between 1908 and 1912. The compound consisted of a temple, a school, a convent, and a prison for women.

The land where the convent was supposed to be built was located on the outskirts of the neighborhood, at the foot of the surrounding mountains with a fantastic view of the ocean and free from the neighbors’ fuss. It had only one flaw: they were isolated and the communications with the city’s down center were expensive and troubling.” (Santelices. Fuentealba: 2010. Pág. 59)

Mario Zolezzi remembers that the area where the school Escuela Artística Violeta Parra is located today was once the prison for women. It was a minimum-security prison where women would serve their sentence. The Sisterhood was in charge of giving Christian education to the inmates. Afterwards, the building was abandoned until the school’s administration took over. The only thing left from that old wooden construction attached to the church is the frontage. (La Estrella de Iquique)

After the First World War the city experienced an abrupt fall back in its expansion and development processes. The break out of the synthetic saltpeter contributed to the closing of many saltpeter mine offices. The economic splendor of the saltpeter era was left behind. Despite all this, some important public works were carried out in the city, like water supply (1920) and sewage system (1929) as an attempt to solve the serious sanitary issues that the city was suffering during those years.

In 1930 and 1940 the port activities were dissolved.

In 1945 the airport was built in the Cavancha area. In 1952 the city registered 39.576 inhabitants, but it had not still recovered from the economic crisis. For this reason, in 1957 flags were hoisted as a sign of protest because of the government’s disdain towards the city. As an answer to this protest the central government came up with the Plan Pesquero, a fishing project that slightly helped the demographic development of the city.

In 1960 the population of the city grew up to 50.655 inhabitants, who started spreading towards the south-east area of the city. During this period, the first large popular neighborhoods were born as a result of the so called “tomas” (illegal use of a piece of land) and the partition of land into lots.

“In 1957 the headlines of the Tarapacá newspaper read: Site invaded for neighborhood construction. From 240 families, another 139 more arrived. These citizens settled in J. J. Pérez, M. Rodríguez, and Libertad streets. (Pinto 1989)”

In an attempt to give order to the city’s accelerated development, in 1960 the MOP created a Master Plan for Iquique. Back then the Corvi was the public agency in charge of the country and city’s housing problems - Corvi significantly included the private sector in the housing constructions through out the years – being the responsible of the urbanization of numerous neighborhoods, including some areas within the Teniente Ibañez neighborhood. (Hidalgo: 2005)

“The Good Shepherd area, for example, was actually a cooperative created to be built there. From Orella street to Pedro Prado street, they were almost all police and military men.” Patricia Muñoz.

Between 1961 and 1965 industries and shops were opened because of the new economic boom based on the fishing activity. Despite this, the city does not see any significant impact on its development and stays aside from the big urban interventions, whereas, the city perceives nasty odors and an emerging pollution of its costs and shores. (Guerrero 1990)

In 1970 there were 64.477 inhabitants. In 1974, along side the country’s regionalization period, Iquique becomes the capital of the Región de Tarapacá (Tarapacá Region) and in 1975 the Zona Franca de Iquique (Free Trade Area) is created giving the final push to an explosive demographic development; as revealed by the 1987 census reaching 135.000 inhabitants.

This is the scenery where the Teniente Ibañez neighborhood began its history and was consolidated, originating many stories of families that came from the pampa and learned to build their houses with effort and collective sacrifice strengthening the neighborhood life, which was based on a common pattern of identity and way of living.

Lieutenant Manuel Ibañez Bustamante, former police officer, passed away on September, 2nd 1948 in the car race “Premio Industria Nacional de Neumáticos.” He protected the life of an audience group located on the driveway, turning him into an institutional martyr. Nowadays, a monolith remembering his name can be found in the main square of the neighborhood.

 

  1. MOP, Ministerio de Obras Públicas, Minestry of Public Works
  2. Corvi, Corporación de Vivienda. Social Housing Corporation