Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Pascual Madoz e Ildefonso Cerdà, dos pioneros en la epifanía de la urbanística

Javier García Bellido


The year 2005 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Pascual Madoz (1805-
1870). In a commemoration of that event, we began an unexpected documentation that has
allowed us to situate him as a very relevant political and financial figure in the initial rise of
modern urbanism, indicating his union with the indisputable father and founder of the discipline
in Europe and the wider world: Ildefonso Cerdá.
In addition to coinciding ideologically on a number of issues (belonging to the same liberal
political party, both forming part of the National Militia, deeply rooted Catalonians, writers and
statisticians, property businessmen and house constructors), the union was established
between the two individuals through Madoz directing and publishing between 1845-50 the
voluminous Geographical-statistical-historical dictionary of Spain, the most grandiose inventory
of municipal and cartographic information ever to have taken place even up until now.
As the Minister of Finance, he promulgated the General Law of Disentitlement (1855). In
addition he promoted, directed and guided the transcendental planning intervention leading to
the demolition of Barcelona’s walls in 1854, with a masterful economic-financial operation,
channelling an emission of public debt in the form of mortgage loans guaranteed by the future
value of the potential building of the land parcels, interconnecting the political aspects of
opportunity and social emergency, with some surprising juridical and economic-financial
techniques that marked the beginnings of the later Spanish urbanism.
In that explosive juncture of the rupture of the walled enclosures of 19th Century Europe, the
powerful brilliance of Cerdá arose that would integrate the government of social space as a
modern science - Urbanisation that would later be called Urbanism - integrating the until then
different disciplines of economy, design, and private and administrative law in the municipal
space, that Madoz had mixed without thinking with his emergency financial operation, when
carrying out the public loan to finance the works of demolishing the walls.

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