3.3. Ildefons Cerdà: L’Eixample and other city plan reforms.
Watercolour by Francesc Soler i Rovira dated 1855 depicting the demolition of the towers and walls along the Canaletes sector, in what is now Carrer de Pelai.On 7 August 1854, after more than a year of negotiations with the government in Madrid, the work ondemolishing the walls began, in the context of a new progresista [liberal] revolutionary period, in the middleof financial and public health crises, with a new outbreak of cholera.The elimination of the Ciutadella, nevertheless, was not to come about until 1868.
The progressive Espartero-ODonnell government authorised the demolition of the walls in1854. Nevertheless, the sea wall, Montjuïc Castle and the Citadel were excluded from thatauthorisation. Picture of the land, in the Santa Madrona Portal area, around 1870; photographerunknown.
Remains of the medieval wall on Avinguda del Paral·lel, as photographed in1913.
A birds-eye view of Barcelona with its walls from the sea. An urban landscape dominated by numerous chimneys and columns of smoke in theRaval and the Sant Pere neighbourhood. To the right of the picture, the military citadel and the fields of Sant Martí de Provençals.
The Garriga I Roca quarteronsThe municipal architect Miquel Garriga i Roca drew up the celebrated quarterons, topographic maps which show in great detail thestate of buildings in historic Barcelona - now the Ciutat Vella district - in 1858. The picture numbers and shows the boundaries ofthe quarterons
The first of Garriga i Rocas quarteronsThe first of Garriga i Rocas attempts toshow the built-up reality of historicalBarcelona, from 1858, relates to the Pla dePalau, with the old Palau Reial (no longerextant) and Santa Maria del Mar, amongother buildings.
The picture shows an area of the city that has radically altered over the years: to the left, the Llotja building, and to theright, the old Sant Sebastià convent, pulled down after the opening up of Via Laietana, as was a good part of Carrer delConsolat, with its characteristic arcades, now all but gone.
A ground-plan view of the City Hall in 1858, with the Sant Miquel church still attached to the building, in the space nowoccupied by the square bearing its name. To the left of the picture, the old Ensenyança convent, whose sole surviving tracelies in the areas name.
Ground-plan view of the Palau de la Generalitat in 1858. During this period the building housed the Barcelona regionalcourt and Provincial Council. To the left of the picture, the Call, or Jewish quarter.
The Plaça del Rei, as seen by Garriga i RocaIn 1858 the Plaça del Rei looked verydifferent from how it appears today.The old Palau Reial Majors outbuildingshoused the Santa Clara convent, while theSaló del Tinell was completely disfigured.The square contained a neo-Gothic fountainand a column from the ancient Romantemple of Augustus, later moved to itsoriginal site where it is still kept.
With the medieval walls gone, it was possible to start the preliminary work required for the actual expansion of the city to get underway. Topographic maps were drawn up of the plain, by Ildefons Cerdà (1855), and of the historic centre of the city (present-day Ciutat Vella), neighbourhood by neighbourhood, quarter by quarter, by Miquel Garriga i Roca, which was popularly known as quarterons.Panoramic view of Barcelona and Tibidabo mountain as seen from Montjuïcmountain at the end of the 19th century.
With the elimination of the walls, Barcelona was in aposition to deal seriously with the question of urbangrowth. The development of the Barcelona plain was theprerogative of the Ministry of Public Works, which iswhy the project had to be approved in Madrid.The key figure at the time was the civil engineer IldefonsCerdà i Sunyol, author of the 1859 Pla dEixample[Expansion Plan] and a modern theory (1867) on urbanplanning, the Teoría general de la urbanización yaplicación de sus principios y doctrinas a la reformay ensanche de Barcelona [General theory of urbandevelopment and the application of its principles anddoctrines to the reform and expansion of Barcelona].Ildefons Cerdà(Centelles, 1815-Caldas de Besaya, Santander, 1876).Educated in civil engineering at the School of Road andPort Engineers in Madrid (1836-1841).Affiliated to the Progresista party.Cerdà devoted himself entirely to politics from 1849.In Barcelona he held various public offices, such asmember of the Spanish Parliament (1850), as well asothers on the City Council.
In 1855 Cerdà presented an accurate topographic plan of the Barcelona plain, before he drew up hisfamous expansion plan for the city.
With its walls finally demolished, Barcelona was ready to expand across the plain. But this had to bedone in an orderly way: the Madrid government gave its approval to the Ildefons Cerdà plan, which wentdown badly in Barcelona. Ildefons Cerdàs expansion plan for Barcelona, approved by Madrid in 1859.
But there were other plans before Cerdà…In 1858 the City Council invited tenders. Many architects did acompetition for the expansion project.Garriga I Roca presented an expansion plan for the city that envisaged union only with the town ofGràcia.He drew up, among other things, the alignment plan for Ciutat Vella and a detailed map of the historiccentre known as quarterons. Garriga i Rocas expansion plan 1858
but the winner was: Antoni Rovira i TriasAntoni Rovira i Trias was the winner of the competitionorginised by the City Council.Hailing from a family of architects, besides winning thecompetition for designing Barcelonas expansion with aplan that would ultimately never be implemented,Rovira i Trias left his mark on the city with such work asthe Barceloneta, Sants and Concepció markets and theseats of the old town halls of Sant Martí de Provençalsand Les Corts. Antoni Rovira i Trias monument in the square namedafter him in the Gràcia district.