The Historic Center is the quarter that gave rise to the city itself and, over the centuries, it has become the administrative, political, cultural and financial heart of Santiago.
Nowadays, this sector is known for having the largest amount of heritage buildings in the city; excellent connectivity with the rest of the metropolitan area; an attractive range of shops lodged in its galleries, shopping malls and pedestrian walks such as Ahumada or Huérfanos; apart from the hustle and bustle on its streets where over a million people working, studying, living or visiting Santiago daily go about.
The layout of Santiago, as well as its checkerboard type configuration, established the main square then known as Plaza Mayor, nowadays Plaza de Armas, in the center; projecting out from there were the street blocks that were to house living premises and the main buildings, such as the Chapter Houses, now the Municipality of Santiago; the Royal Audience now housing the National History Museum; the House of the Governors and Presidents, now the Central Post Office; and the Royal Customs building now housing the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, one e block near to the Plaza de Armas.
Since then, it has continually grown and, in the course of its expansion, the Barrio Cívico (Civic Quarter) of Santiago arose, echoing the increasing modernization of Chile at the dawn of the 20th century. This quarter was designed by the Viennese town planner Karl Heinrich Brunner during the administration of President Carlos Ibáñez del Campo, the layout responding to the need to reduce increasing unemployment in the country by means of public works.
During the 20th century, the Historic Center suffered the gradual emigration of families to other sectors in the capital, so that living premises became offices and trading premises. This process began to revert during the final decades of the last century, through an urban renewal policy that led to a rise in the construction of apartment buildings that brought in families to the center of Santiago.