BARCELONA CITY OF BOOKS
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Barcelona City of Books Isabel Segura Soriano
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CREDITS PUBLISHED BY Barcelona City Council DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS Águeda Bañón DIRECTOR OF INSTITUTIONAL IMAGE AND PUBLISHING SERVICES José Pérez Freijo EDITOR IN CHIEF Oriol Guiu PRODUCTION Maribel Baños RESEARCH, SELECTION OF IMAGES, AND TEXT Isabel Segura Soriano FOREWARD Mercè Ibarz TRANSLATION Angela Kay Bunning DESIGN AND LAYOUT Nino Cabero Morán_oxestudio PHOTO EDITING Xavier Parejo i Soler PUBLISHING AND PRODUCTION Department of Institutional Image and Publishing Services Passeig de la Zona Franca, 66 08038 Barcelona Tel. 93 402 31 31 - barcelona.cat/barcelonallibres Barcelona, 2017 © for this edition: Barcelona City Council © for the texts and photographs the authors ISBN: 978-84-9850-980-9 DL: B-7269-2017 Printed on recycled paper COVER PHOTO Dolors Canals with her daughter, Rosario, reading on the terrace at Casa de les Matoneres in Sarrià, 1918. Ignasi Canals i Tarrats. Photographic archive of the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya @ AFCEC
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Prologue On Books as Creators of the Modern City Mercè Ibarz Books in the Construction of Barcelona Chapter 1, p. 15 There Are No Books without Readers Chapter 2, p. 35 Books and the Street Chapter 3, p. 69 Books during Wartime Chapter 4, p. 109 When Books Were Burned Chapter 5, p. 129 Books during the Transition to Democracy Chapter 6, p. 155 Barcelona: City of Books and Memories Chapter 7, p. 181 Bibliography Photo credits, front matter
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On Books as Creators of the Modern City Mercè Ibarz
The story in this book is one of the best about Barcelona. Because of its focus, it is also one of the least well known and the most incisive. It talks about urban public space: the public space for relationships and social transformation that is created and promoted by the physical presence of books. The construction of a book-city, Barcelona as a book. Every city is a book, a library; in fact, everything is a book. Barcelona is explicit in that respect, however, down to the letter: its bookish quality has existed for centuries, a robust beginning that was documented by Cervantes well before the growth of the modern city. And then some. The pages that follow talk about books in the strictly modern sense, of mass reproduction.
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Their story stretches beyond the data for an industry confined to commercial and institutional spaces. They tell us that, as modern Barcelona was born and grew, books were navigating the same urban map. That is their value and their strength. Isabel Segura Soriano draws books out of the private space of people’s homes and the abstract space of the imagination. Brought into the spotlight by her research, the events the author focuses on take place in public space, in the view of anyone who responds to their call —or sometimes just a few people, depending on the moment and the circumstances— including the long period of the dictatorship. They provide us with a comprehensive meaning and significance in the form of an urban history replete with consequential lessons. On streets, in libraries, cafés, bookshops, old abandoned factories reclaimed by collective memory. That is the power of the historian’s imagination. The capacity for research is a muscle that can be developed. It brings another of our muscles, our imagination, to the surface and gives it shape. If we don’t use those muscles, they atrophy: a run-of-the-mill investigation, with no muscle tone, supports nothing and has nothing illuminating to say about the past. But if those muscles are well developed, research and imagination help us catch sight of the foundational stories from our past. That is how the author of this book works. We can see it in her extensive bibliography on the general and detailed urban history of Ciutat Vella and the Eixample, neighborhoods and suburbs. On the history of urbanism, urban industrial architecture and industrial estates. On the working —class world that built the modern city, the people who erected it with their hard labor. On the courage of women, their creative and emotional capabilities— bourgeois women and craftswomen and unionized women alike. On the people who contributed to Barcelona’s success through the culture they acquired by virtue of their birth, and those who did so through the emancipation that culture has provided throughout history to people who are born with nothing, whose only schooling comes from books. No doubt, because of all of the above, this book is also a summary of the historian Ms. Segura herself, because it delves into the multiple aspects of urban life that she has gleaned and recaptured over four decades of research. We find a self-portrait of the author in the overview she offers, dedicated to books, from a perspective that is quite uncommon. Similar points of view are more often seen in other European or North American contexts, with which the author is familiar. As she has done with previous books, she now adds to the extensive scholarly and informational bibliography on Barcelona, from an angle, I repeat, that is as original as she is. Any book is, to some extent, a self portrait of its author. In this book, I see so many different viewpoints on Isabel Segura Soriano, because I’ve known her for years. I can imagine her as someone who started reading before she learned the alphabet, looking at the covers and the drawings in books at home, at the signs along the streets as her mother carried her, at the historic features her father pointed out to her in the renovations of the palaces on Carrer de Montcada and the city’s old walls, which he worked on. I can see her, the avid buyer and reader of books, attuned to
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literature and the visual arts, particularly photography and architecture, a habitual early-morning client to be found nearly every Sunday at the second-hand book market in Sant Antoni. She has a good nose for novels, essays and memoirs, and is also an editor, to whom we owe the collection Clàssiques Catalanes published by Edicions laSal in the 1980s, as well as the impeccably designed titles, both antique and modern, she edited in the following decade for Edicions de l’Eixample, l’Espai de Dones. All of these aspects of her relationship with language add up and come together into the condition of a historian who knows the photographic archives and the collections of print material on the development of Barcelona like the back of her hand, who never tires of consulting them and making their story known. That is why Isabel Segura Soriano always brings to light subtle aspects that are ahead of their time and people who have been hidden in the deepest reaches of history, which is often so fleeting and unforgiving with anyone who has been relegated to the background for any number of reasons. I’d like to point out one person and three inventions. Lilly Reich (1885-1947) designer and notable director of the Bauhaus movement, in both Dassau and Berlin. For years, she was a close collaborator of the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. She designed the exhibition stands for the German contribution to the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition (the exhibition that included the Mies pavilion, which was reconstructed on Montjuic), 16,000 m2 no less, for which she served as the artistic co-director. There are at least three inventions that have been rediscovered by this delightful book, and all three of them could be recovered for the present day: the reading pavilion, the library-bench, and the mobile library by Nicolau M. Rubió i Tudorí. On Passeig de Sant Joan —where celebrations were held in 1895 when the Arús Library, Barcelona’s first public library, was donated to the city— the City Council installed library-benches in 1930, along the stretch from the Diagonal to Travessera de Gràcia, and a reading pavilion at the top of the street. In Sant Andreu, the architect Subirana designed a library that could be dismantled and reassembled for use in the working-class houses built by the GATCPAC, inaugurated by the Generalitat in March of 1933. There is so much life in this book. A life that is pulled up, its spirit intact, from the non-place in history to which the silent past is often relegated (until the historian Segura, and other colleagues, spark a dialogue and reimagine it). Luckily, the same reasons that have made Barcelona a book-city also repeatedly transform its pages into a constant pulse beat that is relentless and undeniable: shared public space, which always has something new to teach us. Turn the page, delve into this book, and you’ll see it for yourselves
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Books in the Construction of Barcelona Chapter 1
Books have always had close ties to the history of Barcelona. The world of books grew up in parallel to the growth of the city. As the city expanded, the industry sought out a place for itself in the new urban spaces. It is, perhaps, the only industry that wasn’t forced out of the city. Others were not so lucky.
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In 1886, on the threshold between Barcelona and Gràcia, construction began on what would become the most important print shop and publishing house in the Spanish state in the 19th century, Sucesores de N. Ramírez y Compañía, later called Henrich y Cía. The company, located on the confluence of carrers de Còrsega, Roger de Llúria and Avinguda Diagonal, also maintained its former headquarters on passatge d’Escudellers.
walled in) from end to end, from the carrer de la Boqueria in El Call to the square in front of City Hall, and continuing along baixada de Llibreteria, baixada de la Presó to Plaça de l’Angel and on through carrer de l’Argenteria toward carrer de la Ciutat and carrer de la Basea (Arranz, 2010). Along the route that we have just described, book binding workshops, print shops and bookstores shared the same space. Graphic artists and engravers embellished the books. At that time, the figure of an editor didn’t exist. There were, however, printers and book sellers.
The two offices, in old and new areas of Barcelona (although the new location was still in Gràcia for administrative purposes), symbolized the ties between both areas of the city: the former, densely developed and depersonalized; and the latter, in the infancy of its expansion after it was laid out by Ildefons Cerdà in his Plan for the Eixample, approved in 1859. Beginning from that date, at a very slow pace in the early decades, an initial phase of building started, which was concentrated on the streets adjacent to Plaça de Catalunya, up to carrer d’Aragó parallel to the sea, and extending along Passeig de Gràcia and Rambla de Catalunya to reach Gràcia.
As a precursor to his development of the plan for the Eixample, the engineer Ildefons Cerdà undertook an in-depth study of the living conditions of the walled city’s inhabitants, including those who worked in the publishing industry. As a result of his work, Teoría general de la urbanización, we know that in Barcelona in 1852 there were 440 printers, including press operators and typesetters. 400 of them were journeymen and the rest were apprentices. The typesetters had higher salaries —from 60 to 84 rals per week— than the press operators, whose pay ranged from 66 to 78 rals a week. As for the woodblock engravers, who were responsible for carving the blocks used to make prints, there were only 27, including both journeymen and apprentices, who earned similar salaries to the printers.
At the same time, the old and new headquarters represented the transition from handcrafts to industry: an industry that was powered by steam, using two engines to run 200 machines manned by 800 people. In Ciutat Vella, the installation of new steam engines had been banned. From that point forward, they were set up in the Eixample and in independent towns along the plain. Nonetheless, the graphic arts industry never ceased its operations in Ciutat Vella. The graphic itinerary, in the words of Romà Arranz, continued to cross the city (formerly
These were professions for men, on the whole, according to the statistics gathered by Ildefons Cerdà. The working world, still organized according to a logic of guilds, did not allow women to reach the level of mastery, 16
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M. HENRICH Y CIA COMPANY BUILDING Built in 1886, it was the most important print shop and publishing house in the Spanish State in the 19th century. The image was published in Arquitectura Moderna de Barcelona, in 1892. M. Henrich y Cía. Biblioteca del Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya
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ALLEGORICAL DRAWING BY JOSEP PASCÓ REPRESENTING THE INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION OF BOOKS. Reprinted in Calendario para el año 1892 [Calendar for the Year 1892]. Published by Henrich y Cía. Sucesores de N. Ramírez y Co. in Barcelona. M. Henrich y Cía. Biblioteca del Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya
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after becoming journeymen. That being said, there were women who managed print shops, either on their own initiative or because they were widows.
from the Gràcia Town Council to install two steam generators on its property, along with the necessary machinery to get its workshops up and running.
With the gradual mechanization of publishing and bookmaking, and the Plan for the Eixample that evolved from a proposal into a master plan for a new Barcelona, the publishing industry expanded into the Eixample in search of open spaces for its new headquarters, thus playing an active role in the construction of the modern city.
The boilers, as required by municipal ordinance, would be installed in isolated compartments, separate from the main building. After the permit had been awarded, the safety of the generators had to be ensured. They were checked over by a company called Nuevo Vulcano, from the Barceloneta neighborhood “and held up to pressure levels of 10 atmospheres” (Municipal Archive, Gràcia District).
Urban Transformation and Technology
A year later, the building designed by the architect Domingo Balet i Nadal was built on a lot measuring 6,000 m2. It had a basement, where the storage warehouses were located, that could be accessed directly via carriage and cart. There was also a department for creating satin finishes and a foundry for type metal; large workshops, garages and various offices. The printing presses, using a variety of printing systems, were located on the ground floor. There were machines for lithography, chromolithography, multi-color prints, collotype, printing on metal and wood, stereotype printing and electroplating. It was the first company with a rotary printing press.
Both books and the city underwent transformations during the last third of the 19th century. Building technologies progressed in parallel to the technical advances in the production of books. The technological innovations in architecture, with special relevance in the area of metallic structures, allowed for creating large open spaces that older building systems —using wood, stone or brick— were unable to provide. Architectural proportions underwent a shift, and these new spaces were ideal for housing technological innovations in the publishing industry: machinery that was run by the power of steam. In parallel, the new methods of organizing labor in the bookmaking world required spaces that were adapted to those needs.
On the first floor —the main floor— there were the meeting rooms, the manager’s office and the employee offices, which were distributed like English cubicles, with large permanent varnished pine partitions, wooden flooring and “elegant and somber” furniture, according to the company brochure, published in 1892. On that same floor, there were the typesetting rooms and the lithographic printing presses.
The growth of the company Henrich y Cía. is an illustrative example in that regard. On 12 December 1885, when the company was still operating under the name Sucesores de N. Ramírez y Compañía, it requested a permit
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On the second floor, there were the workshops for gilding, ruling, bookbinding and the preparation of American almanacs.
One such image appears in the volume Arquitectura moderna de Barcelona [Modern Architecture in Barcelona], published by Parera in 1897.
In the attic, there was the dryer, the varnishing equipment, and machines for gluing.
The city —the city’s architecture— becomes a photographic subject. A few years earlier, photographers, editors, printers, and book binders had begun releasing photo albums of the city. One of the first was called Bellezas de Barcelona [Beauties of Barcelona], by Joan Martí, from 1874. Around the same time, Francisco Javier Álvarez created the Álbum fotográfico de los monumentos y edificios más notables que existen en Barcelona, con su correspondiente descripción [Photographic Album of the Most Significant Monuments and Buildings in Barcelona, with Their Corresponding Descriptions].
The company was also outfitted with the latest mechanical inventions: elevators and a telephone service that connected the different departments with the offices on carrer d’Escudellers. It represented the transition toward a new publishing concept, organized in strictly industrial terms, which was a fundamental step toward contemporary Catalan publishing. Companies like Henrich —formerly Narcís Ramírez— and Montaner y Simon, among others, understood publishing as an investment that should provide a return. They published heavily illustrated, well-bound books intended for a well-to-do urban audience. The increase in print runs helped reduce production costs and, therefore, the books’ end price, which made them affordable for a broader audience. It was at that moment, according to Manuel Llanas, that the Catalan capital became the publishing capital of the Spanish state and began its American expansion (Llanas, 2004, p. 217).
The aforementioned albums presented monumentality based on buildings that were built as symbolic representations of religious and civil powers: churches, cathedrals, monasteries, private and public palaces. In the late 19th century, however, graphic albums were published that outlined new itineraries based on architectural elements built for emerging activities. Arquitectura moderna de Barcelona [Modern Architecture in Barcelona], published in 1897 by Parera y Cia., gave preference to modern buildings and constructions that were “more attuned to the needs of contemporary life”. It highlighted, for example, contemporary architects, sports facilities, the headquarters of energy companies, newspaper offices, hotels, multi-family houses in the Eixample, as well as various factories, photography studios, and well-known typesetters’ workshops from the period such as Montaner y Simón, Sucesores de Ramírez, and J. Thomas.
A few years after opening its enormous new building, the publishing house requested permission from the Gràcia Town Hall to build a photography lab-workshop on the roof, a symbol of the future that was just around the corner for photography in the publishing world. In the few photographs that have survived, the new company building is spectacular. 20
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PLAN OF THE STEAM BOILERS INSTALLED AT M. HENRICH Y CIA. Plan record 1885 - 405. Arxiu Municipal del Districte de Gràcia. Fons Ajuntament de Gràcia / © AMDG
SUBSIDIARY OF THE PRINTING INK FACTORY CH. LORILLEUX Y Cª, IN BADALONA. Published in Revista Gráfica, 1901-1902, p. 65. Arxiu Històric de la Ciutat de Barcelona
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Unknown photographer, Roisin Collection. Institut d’Estudis Fotogràfics de Catalunya. / © VEGAP
WOMEN AND MEN MAKING HANDMADE PAPER.
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