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Summary




portada de BMM


THE NINETEEN SIXTIES

That decade in which so many things happened
It was not a "prodigious" decade for everyone in Barcelona. The city's shanty areas and second-rate government subsidized housing developments also experienced a "prodigious" growth. And, of course, so did the speculators' wealth. In any event, the people of Barcelona paid more attention to father Peyton than to the Beatles. The British band's live performance at the "Monumental" bullring on July 3rd 1965 did not arise as much expectation and loud publicity as the concentration organized five months later by the famous American priest on Diagonal avenue with the aim of encouraging families to pray and say the rosary together.
1968 was not as eventful here as in other places, but we had our own reference year, 1966, a year in which many things happened, marking the beginning of the last stage of Franco's regime, a period that writer Vázquez Montalbán quite suitably christened "tardofranquisme" (late Francoism). The decade of the sixties opened with the Palau events and Jordi Pujol's arrest, followed, some time later, by father Escarré's exile because of the statements he had made to "Le Monde". Then came the 1966 chain of significant events: the "caputxinada" happenings that led to the establishment of the "Sindicat Democràtic d'estudiants de la Universitat de Barcelona" (Barcelona Uiversity Democratic Students' Union); following the "caputxinada", the demonstration organized by priests who took to the streets to protest against the tortures inflicted upon a student arrested during the events; the creation of the clandestine "Grup Democràtic de Periodistes" (Democratic Association of Journalists) at a time when democratic winds were also starting to blow through several other professional sectors; the passage of the "Llei de Premsa" (Press Law) and the appearance of "Tele/eStel", the first weekly magazine published in Catalan after the Spanish Civil War; and so many other things ... (...)

Houses like matchboxes
The population of one million that remained in Barcelona at the end of the Civil War had increased up to 1.300.000 inhabitants on the eve of the Eucharistic Congress and already exceeded one million and a half at the end of the nineteen fifties. The steady influx of immigrants had gathered unprecedented momentum and the lack of reasonably priced housing was seriously distressing. The housing needs of that new segment of the population were in large part met by resorting to precarious solutions such as subletting and the construction of shanties.
Even though public real estate development projects played a supplementary role, this should not be in any way magnified. Of the 170.000 blocks of flats built in Barcelona during the decade of the sixties, only 16.000 - i.e. less than 10 per cent - were financed by the public sector. Moreover, nobody could consider the way public bodies took action a model of efficiency.

The fire at the Orphea Film studios
In May 1932, the president of the "Generalitat" autonomous government, Francesc Macià, was invited to attend a filming session of "Pax", a French movie directed by Francisco Elías which served to inaugurate Orphea Films, the first studios to be suitably equipped for shooting sound films in the whole Spanish state. The Studios were housed in one of the palaces that had been built for the 1929 International Exhibition in Barcelona, more concretely in the former "Chemistry Palace" designed by architect Antoni Sardà. (...)
Thirty years after that inauguration, on April 28th 1962, a fire destroyed the Orphea Film Studios. The city firemen's lack of appropriate means - their fire engines did not carry any water - rendered them powerless to put out the fire. "La bella Lola", directed by Alfonso Balcázar, was the last movie filmed in the Orphea Studios, which were never reconstructed.

García Márquez settled in the Sarrià district
"That proved to be an enriching and very fruitful period for me. At the beginning, I felt astonished that there could actually be scope for rather extensive cultural freedom under a dictatorship like Franco's, but it did not take long for me to realize that such a space for freedom had been conquered with day-to-day effort by the writers, the artists, the journalists, and by the Catalan people as a whole. I felt quite at ease in Barcelona, I was happy writing there, I had - and still have - good friends, but one day I decided to leave because I wanted to be more closely connected with the realities of Latin America."
These were the words that Gabriel García Márquez said to journalist Joaquim Ibarz on the day he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. The Colombian writer had arrived in Barcelona in 1969 with the intention of staying for a short time. He eventually lived in our city for eight years. His friendship with literary agent Carme Balcells had a decisive influence on his choice of the quiet Caponata street in the district of Sarriá as his dwelling place. That was where he wrote "El otoño del patriarca", a novel that aimed at bringing him as much fame as his former best seller "Cien años de soledad".

The Holy Heart church on Tibidabo hill
In 1961, the statue of the Holy Heart was finally positioned on top of the cupola of the large expiatory temple erected on the Tibidabo hill, an image that marked the highest point in the city for thirty years, until the telecommunications tower built in the Collserola sierra beat that honorific record in 1991.
The large statue of the Holy Heart, although situated in such a highly visible place, is not a work by a famous sculptor, but it was made by is the modest sculptor-cum-stonecutter Miret Llopart who, in spite of being the author of several pieces of public monumental sculpture displayed in different parts of Barcelona, has not even been considered worthy of mention in the Great Catalan Encyclopedia. (...)

The second home
The culture of the car, which is gradually becoming more and more widespread, makes it possible to recover old dreams. The second home with its garden, the dream preached by Francesc Macià, the president of the Generalitat during the Spanish Republic in the 1930s, is starting to become a reality thanks to the new ability to travel. No highway or track in Catalonia is beyond the reach of the inquiring people of Barcelona in their cars. (...) This new mobility of the people of Barcelona was reflected in all sorts of bright letters to the papers, but it had more effects than that, some of them irreversible. There was for example an explosion of totally uncontrolled housing estates of second homes in many part of Catalonia, and many landscapes disappeared as a result of greed of the builders erecting apartment blocks and many highways had to be widened, and many motorways built. (...)