Greet De Block (University of Antwerp) and Massimo Moraglio (TU Berlin)
Infrastructure, Mobility, Urbanisation
Many historical works have foregrounded how cities integrate different urban flows, often conceptualized under the rubrique of ‘urban metabolism’. Others have shown the disintegrating effects of infrastructure on social inequality, and indeed its ‘splintering’ nature. Yet, how infrastructure networks negotiate, materialize and ultimately reshape relations between city and flows has received less attention. This session brings together urban history, transport history and mobilities to address the synergies and clashes between cities, infrastructure and flows. We welcome papers that study (i) the planning and policy discussions between different governance levels about how (not) to integrate these infrastructures in the urban tissue; and (ii) the effects of large flows on the transformation and organization of urban space and its local mobility practices.
Potential lines of inquire include, but are not limited to:
(i) Will the highway network go around, through, under, or over the city? Will the railway station be located in the city centre or outside the city gates? The planning and policy discussions around these kind of choices give insight in the interactions between different governance levels and their motives to integrate or resist flows of people or goods. Moreover, it traces the agency of the city in the planning and transformation of large scale networks, and vice versa.
(ii) Did transnational fluxes interrupt urban flows? Were new urban infrastructural complexes developed to channel different flows in and through the city? Cities are often depicted as ‘portals of globalization’, dynamic nodes in a network society. This session materializes and specifies these concepts by focusing on the ways in which these movements transformed urban space, and the ways in which the city channelled different flows.
New York’s Seventh Avenue South: from Highway to Urban Life
Patrick Leitner (Ecole d'architecture Paris - La Villette)
Greenwich Village, Street Opening, Local Life
In 1914 Seventh Avenue South was cut through the heart of New York’s Greenwich Village. The aim of this one-kilometer long extension of Seventh Avenue was to improve the south-north traffic connection while also allowing for the construction of the subway’s Broadway-Seventh Avenue Line which opened in 1918. However, it caused a huge upset in the local urban life which not only lost some of its historical fabric but was also struggling against becoming a purely passing-through neighborhood characterized by a large open space (which had not been rebuilt), new speed and pollutions, and numerous gas and service stations.
With the help of archival material such as the report of the NYC Improvement Commission of 1907, minutes of various boards, land register, assessment and other legal maps from the 1910s, as well as historic photographs from the 1920s and 1930s, my paper proposes to discuss Seventh Avenue South from the viewpoint of the legal framework, its spatial consequences, and the slow and belated rebuilding of urban life. For while the thoroughfare was directly connected to the existing street system (contrary to a railway or speedway), it was nevertheless an example of what network planning for streets and public transport could do to urban life when not accompanied by specific legal tools permitting the creation of a newly built cityscape. The paper will demonstrate that, although proudly presented in monographs of that time as a major achievement in American urban planning, this avenue could never follow the much-admired model of the new Parisian boulevards built during the Second Empire. In New York, this model was known in depth for its planning procedures and its capacity of creating a new, albeit different, urban local life. In contrast, Seventh Avenue South offered for many decades the features of a highway very much at odds with this idea.
My paper will also offer a short reflection on the avenue's last decades which show that, in spite of all the initially unresolved issues, urban life has finally arrived on the avenue. One century after its opening, it is a place where networked flows and urban life make new meaning.
A River, a City, two Tunnels and Tolls: debating River Crossings in Antwerp 1920-1960
Thomas Vanoutrive (University of Antwerp) and Greet De Block (UAntwerp)
Antwerp, Transport, River Crossings
The location near a river has played a significant role in the history of many cities around the world. This is also the case for the city of Antwerp and the river Scheldt. The city developed on the right bank of the river and in the 1920s land on the left bank was added to the territory of the city of Antwerp. An intermunicipal company was set up to improve the connections between the two banks of the river and to develop the land on the left bank. Until the opening of two tunnels in 1933, ferry services were the only alternative to cross the river. After the opening of these tunnels, some actors referred to the vicious circle of tolls and development: tunnel tolls were required to finance the development of the left bank but this development could not take off due to the tolls. The tunnels were thought out as infrastructures organising and enforcing relations between flows and urbanisation, yet the financial construct of tolls obstructed mobility and put the flow-urbanisation relation into a deadlock. Tolls were levied until 1951 in the pedestrian tunnel and until 1958 in the tunnel for motorized traffic. While discussions on tolls primarily focused on Antwerp and some nearby municipalities, opponents of tolls also referred to the role of the tunnels in the wider road network which connects Antwerp to other Belgian cities such as Ghent, but also to cities like Lille, France. As a consequence, this case is interesting to shed light on accessibility issues on the interplay between local, national and international scales.
The Publics of Metropolitan Flows: London and Paris circa 1840-1900
Carlos López Galviz (Lancaster University)
London and Paris, Railways, Public Benefit
Transporting goods and people became paramount to the transformation that London and Paris experienced during the second half of the 19th century. Whether new and existing transport technologies should match urban and suburban growth constituted an important part of the thinking about the future of the two cities during this period. Moving heavy goods and minerals circumventing the city, or, allowing for traffic to concentrate into stations serving the post office, the market, or, the river docks were two of the ways in which railways shaped the flows, form and functions of the English and French capitals during this period. This paper will focus on what gradually and unevenly became known as the ‘public benefit’ in a process that brought together and apart the private interests of railway companies and a variety of interests from the national, regional, metropolitan and local authorities. It argues that a focus on ‘publics’ is better suited to understand urban change in nineteenth-century European cities.
Urban Ports as Infrastructures of Global Mobility: Nineteenth Century London and Antwerp
Samuel Grinsell (University of Antwerp)
Ports, Urban Infrastructure, Environment
The nineteenth century saw rapid changes in technology, as steam transformed shipping and railways provided new modes of connection. Larger ships changed the physical nature of ports, and cities adapted by creating new facilities or moving some downriver to deeper waters. The relationship between water and cities thus changed dramatically. This paper examines how these developments transformed the urban form of London and Antwerp, financial centres in the imperial economy. How did the need for expanded facilities reshape neighbourhoods? How were some kinds of movement enabled while others were restricted? How does global modernity reshape static sites such as the port?
The cities around the North Sea were centres of global power in the modern era, commanding maritime empires that defined the commerce and politics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries for much of the world. Yet the modern history of this region has generally been broken into national specialisms. Bringing the North Sea into the urban history of modernity would change the ways in which we think about cities, seas, rivers, ¬¬and the ways in which these spaces combine.
This study uses nineteenth century port architecture to understand the production of urban space. The complex interaction of waterscapes, buildings, street layouts and trading routes makes the port a particularly dense site of contestation. Both Antwerp and London expanded their docks in the nineteenth century, reshaping the cities’ relationship to water, river and sea. Comparing the two enables us to trace the different ways global trading relations were transforming urbanism in this period. Putting infrastructure at the heart of the analysis of historical urban space takes up arguments by Swati Chattopadhyay; while examining ports as moments in environmental history builds on work by Michael Chiarappa. By drawing together these intellectual currents this paper will reconsider the place of ports in the assemblage of the city and of urbanism in global webs of trade.
Canning the City: a Sardine Tale over the Borders
Diego Inglez de Souza (Universidade do Minho)
Fishing Architecture, Atlantic History, Sardine Canning
Based on the production of canned sardines, we seek to understand and map the effects that fishing techniques and fish preservation industries have had on the urbanization of territories along the European Atlantic coast. Over the last two centuries, following the development of fish preservation techniques in France, these territories were transformed by the multiple circulations of capital and ‘traditional’ and scientific knowledge between Portuguese, Spanish and French fishing ports. In this paper, we argue for the need to develop an integrated perspective between sea and shore in order to understand and map the major impacts that fishing and canning have had on architecture, infrastructures and urban history.
To understand the circulations and exchanges between various countries during two centuries of the canning industry, the Atlantic must be viewed as a space of shared knowledge. Fishing has been studied in different disciplinary fields, but, to fully grasp the complexity of its dynamics, the marine environment must be regarded as a common ground for understanding the natural, industrial, urban and social dimensions of this significant exploration of sea resources.
The transformations of important fishing ports on the Portuguese coast, such as Setúbal and Matosinhos, during the 20th century can be understood in relation to international dynamics, such as fisheries ecological instabilities and labour force strikes in French Brittany. These social and environmental obstacles to the economic rationality underlying production and exports brought radical changes to the canning industry. Even if a classical delocalization process can be described through the economic history of different brands held by the same economic groups, both political and scientific discourse continue to be linked to national and regional readings of the phenomena. Migrations of techniques and fishing schools are constantly mentioned as external factors that led to important transformations in the fishing and canning industries, yet rarely understood as transnational exchanges resulting from connected factors.
Rather than accept modes of fishing production as national or regional symbols and identity makers, we propose to broaden the scope of spatial narratives across borders, thus contributing to a wider notion of architecture inscribed into a particular socio-ecology.
From 'Terra Incognita' to 'Terra Nova': Airport Territories in the North of Istanbul
Elif Simge Fettahoğlu Özgen (Munich Technical University), İpek Akpınar (Izmir Institute of Technology) and Benedikt Boucsein (Munich Technical University)
Urban Mega Projects, Territory and Urbanism, Istanbul
Spearheaded by major highway projects, the city of Istanbul expanded from a city of 1 million to a metropolis of 15 million in the last 50 years, imploding and exploding simultaneously. The city's overgrowth followed specific forms of informalities, and post-planning and post-legitimizing measures within that timeframe. The last decade of urban interventions, however, indicates a scalar and geographical shift, with the introduction of Urban Mega Projects(UMP's) as prevailing form of spatial production through new governance practices that, in lieu of a master plan imposes top-down decision making; as they are one-by-one realized in an unprecedented scale, scope and pace. The new Istanbul Airport, as one of the largest aviation projects in the world and 'the greatest project of Turkish Republic' to date is central to the plans, resulting in a territorialization and re-scaling that has, has the potential to overthrow the thresholds that sustain Istanbul, and the capacity to reverse the macroform that historically followed a south-bound pattern, extending along the highway belts and large infrastructural projects. Behind the visible, the undertow of geographical claims, of geographies of tension and transformation is inherent. The territories are bounded, re-shaped as new rhythms of mobilities are introduced and uneven development patterns are formed. The aim of the study is, thus, to place the UMP's and infrastructures their territorializing and de-territorializing capacities into context by investigating historical perspectives of infrastructure-led developments in the case of Istanbul. The aim of the study is to precede patterns of development, and future claims on the territory. Following a contextual description, it discusses how the territorializing potential of the infrastructure spaces and UMP's are unfolding. Secondly, it provides a prospective look into the development patterns, and finally aims to provide a broader understanding of the effect of large-scale infrastructures, specifically of airports and their bundling and splintering nature over the territory.