To visit the historic center of Santiago is like climbing on a train to the past. The buildings with European architecture, the cathedral that holds years of Chilean history, and the various sculptures or statues that decorate the old plazas, give account of a time in which our country changed constantly with each discovery by humanity. The arrival of electricity is undoubtedly one of the milestones that marked a before and after in the history of this long and narrow country, generating profound changes such as at the inception of public lighting and transport.
In some of Santiago’s centuries-old streets you can still see the rails of streetcars that ran throughout the city thanks to the arrival of electricity to Chile, displacing the mule-drawn carts, their honorable ancestors. The entity responsible for introducing this change was the English company, Chilean Electric Tramway and Light Company, which over time was transformed into Chilectra, and which, through the implementation of DC generators, gave rise to public transport in the Chilean capital.
Following the path formed by the rails upon which the tramways used to run, they lead to an electricity generation operations center and workshop, located at Victoria # 612, downtown Santiago, a place in which many of the elements of earlier times have been kept intact until today. There, Enel has been in charge of giving a space to the history of electricity in Chile, maintaining this place that currently functions as a maintenance workshop for the electrical circuits that supply the distribution network. In the facilities’ underground tunnels, which in the past contained the cables to transmit electricity, there is currently a maintenance center, which plays a key role in the safe delivery of electricity to our users.
Ricardo Bravo has worked in these offices, since 1990, as head of the High Voltage Management and Control Area. While touring the buildings, he commented on the fragments and history of this center: "these walls have been intact since the British company was inaugurated and have withstood all the earthquakes that have taken place in Santiago." Ricardo also spoke about the 1970’s architectural style of the most recent buildings and the centenary araucaria that is lit up every year for Christmas.
Victoria #612 is a place where the past, the present, and the future coexist harmoniously, as testimony of more than 100 years of history regarding electricity, a place in which milestones continue, to this day, to be built for the future.