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TIGRE owes its poetic name to the jaguars – popularly known as tigres in Latin America – that inhabited the Delta region until the beginning of the twentieth century. The town sits on an island bounded by the Río Luján, the Río Reconquista and the Río Tigre and was first documented in 1635 under the name of El Pueblo de las Conchas, a small settlement that functioned as a defensive outpost against Portuguese invasions. A favoured summer retreat of the Porteño elite in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the town's sumptuous mansions and palatial rowing clubs date from this period. Back then social life revolved around events at the Tigre Club, home to Argentina's first casino, and the grand Tigre Hotel, whose clientele included Enrico Caruso and the Prince of Wales. The town's decline as a glamorous destination was in part a result of the closure of the casino (shut in 1933 through a law which prohibited casinos in the vicinity of the capital) and in part a result of the growing popularity of Mar del Plata. The Tigre Hotel was demolished in 1940, although the elegant Tigre Club still stands, and has now been reinvented as the excellent Museo de Arte Tigre.
As a departure point for excursions to the Delta and Isla Martín García, the town itself is sometimes overlooked by tourists. At first glance, it's a bit of a hotchpotch: a recent upsurge in investment in the area has brought new development; many sites – such as a slightly twee train station and the mega amusement park Parque de laCosta – seem to have been built with scant regard for Tigre's distinctive architectural heritage. Don't be put off by initial impressions, however – Tigre offers an appealing mix of faded glamour and day-trip brashness and the bars and restaurants around its refurbished riverside area provide perfect vantage points for an unhurried contemplation of the comings and goings of Delta life.