These quarters converge in an area with a distinguished past. They are symbols of the changes made in the capital in the 19th century, thanks to the considerable fortunes made in mining, agriculture and construction, among other prosperous economic activities.
The rural features of this area began to change with the construction of Cousiño Park, now called O’Higgins Park, south of Santiago. Its opening led to need to open up new streets in order to link the sector with Avenida Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins; this boosted the urban development of the area and the shaping of an elegant, exclusive residential quarter.
It was there where affluent families built their residences. A clear echo of this reality was the construction of the palaces known as Cousiño, Errázuriz and Irarrázaval, fitted with the first elevators, central heating systems and interior decoration brought over from the Old Continent. Also, families linked with the military world set up here, drawn in by the presence of Campo de Marte and the nearby Military School, now the Historic Military Museum.
The avenues known as República, Dieciocho and Ejército point to the economic prosperity of the period. To illustrate this, República was the first avenue in the capital to have electric lighting on paved streets and private homes.
Nowadays, the heart of this area is known as Barrio Universitario (University Quarter) due to the educational institutions located there, with over 100 thousand students. This presence has consolidated the quarter as a point of reference for the convergence of urban, cultural and educational life, revitalizing and bringing up to date the same streets where the wealthiest families in Santiago settled more than a century ago.
Calle Dieciocho was declared a Typical Zone in 1983 and so was Avenida República in 1992.