La Plata was founded at the end of the nineteenth century, as a result of the federalization of the City of Buenos Aires. Known for its planned design and distinctive nineteenth-century urban grid - in which, for example, every avenue intersection is punctuated by a public square and there is a system of diagonals that link all major squares - La Plata is nicknamed both "the city of the diagonals" and "the linden-tree city", as this arbor species is one of the most predominant along its boulevards, streets, squares and its main park, known as "el Bosque" ("the Woods).
According to the 2010 Population Census, 654,324 people live in La Plata, and around 18 % of them are university students. Along with the National University of La Plata (UNLP) - with approximately 90,000 students enrolled - La Plata also hosts the Regional Faculty of the National Technological University and the Catholic University of La Plata. Thus, it is a privileged destination for numerous students from the interior of the country, as well as from neighbouring countries, who are attracted by the diversity and academic quality of its higher education institutions. This imprints the city with the vibrancy, dynamism and cultural intensity of young people.
Two administrative levels coexist in the city, as it is the site of the Government of the Province of Buenos Aires and of the Municipality of La Plata. This brings together a large number of population (nearly one-fourth) who work in the public sector. The Chambers of Senators and Representatives of the Province, bring congressmen and civil servants from different towns and villages of the Province to its Capital City, adding also to the cultural urban life of the city.
The municipality of La Plata is part of the Buenos Aires green belt, one of the most important productive poles of fruits and vegetables in the country, and host a great number of horticultural farms. Three main communal centers - Los Hornos, Abasto and City Bell - concentrate the highest proportions of horticultural production and more than half of the soil used for floricultural growth in La Plata. Among the secondary economic activities, the local manufacturing industry represents a wide sectorial diversity too.
Thus, La Plata's combined roles of provincial capital and university town explain the predominance of the tertiary sector in the local economy. The two main dimensions of La Plata's profile, "Administration" and "Education" have strong spatial implications, as the historic quarters are the main sites of the universities and the administrative center.