By 1865 Pena Blanca there were only rooms Chango Lopez and his family, besides the tin house of Don Manuel Antonio de Lama, which was used to store supplies and tools for expeditions to search. The origin of the city, is linked to the exploitation of nitrate, and specifically to Jose Santos Ossa and the discovery of the Salar del Carmen.
By 1868 when Ossa is in talks with British investors, along with Francisco Puelma form and Manuel Antonio de Lama the company operating the Atacama Desert, which manages the granting of the exploitation, processing and marketing of nitrate-free for a period of 15 years. On July 13 of that year is delivering the land of the Quebrada de San Mateo, starting the Peopling of Pena Blanca.
Antofagasta was founded officially by a commission sent by the Bolivian government, from Cobija, dated 22 October 1868. For we can say that his name is known by the name of Pena Blanca until 1869, moving then to be known as "chimba", being the other side of Cerro Moreno, known by the name of Antofagasta in 1870 when Bolivian President Melgarejo, who had a property with that name in the neighborhood, made her name. "
In the foreground of Antofagasta, executed by Jose Santos Prada, dated Mejillones, 1869, delineates the area of Clark and Co. Melbourne, plus 17 blocks and the main square, called Plaza Colon.
By 1875 there are already facing Plaza Hotel Mr. Peña, some banks, the church built in 1872 (in the same place which is now the Cathedral) and trading houses. He is described as a square that has an elegant wooden fence around it, placing another in its center, for the installation of a water basin. This year the Mayor of Valparaiso, Don Francisco Echaurren, donates 35 trees to be planted in it, thus becoming a large green space.
In 1912, with the intention to give an appropriate framework to monuments donated by the colonies Yugoslav (tattoo booth), English (clock tower) and Spanish (sculpture where are the Catholic Kings and Columbus), by reason of centenary of the Republic, improvement works are carried out in the square.
The "watch the English" is a reproduction on a smaller scale than exists in the Tower of the Parliament of Westminster, giving the same sounds that the original clock, the watchmakers Guillet and Johnson. This watch is in a square tower, built in reinforced concrete lined brick glazed stoneware. Its height is 13.50 m., which is coupled to the 2.70 m vane of the winds. Located in the center of the square, this clock tower stands out for its originality constructive as for their sound, making it a landmark element within the city. Columbus Square was again restored in 1993, maintaining that yes, all the traditional elements.