Contexts

L’Hospitalet

Since the beginning of the 20th Century until the 90’s, two major events in the city (1929 Barcelona International Exhibition and 1992 Barcelona’s Olympic Games), marked the beginning and the end of shantyism in the metropolitan area of Barcelona. In the first settlements of shantytowns, a good number of domestic migrant people settled in the city to work, precisely, on the construction of the International Exposition site, which was also responsible for the fact that the settlements were displaced to the opposite side of the Montjuic mountain, so as not to detract from the image of the fairgrounds. The Olympic Games of 1992 marked the end of the shacks, the presence of which was intolerable for the brand image that Barcelona wanted to project internationally, to be inserted in the global circuits of tourism, congresses and real estate investments. Before that, during Francoism dictatorship, now and then, metal walls were installed alongside the settlements to hide them when Franco came to Barcelona. Those shantytowns, such as La Bomba, Can Pi, La Cadena, that were settled in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, received migrant people from other Spanish parts such as Andalucía, Extremadura, Castilla, Murcia, among other regions, but also impoverished local population, Roma, and people expelled from their territories for political reasons, above all, after the Civil War.

When those settlements were demolished most of the people were displaced to big housing states quite close to the site where shantytowns used to be. The evicted territory, years later, became the huge Economic District that connects Barcelona and L’Hospitalet and has no sign, no trace of those communities that lived there for decades. Therefore, their struggles, their stories of survival and self organization, that constitute a keystone of the city history and development, are at risk of been forgotten.