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Gran Vía Video

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Title

Gran Vía Video

Subject

Gran Vía Project Introduction Video

Description

The Gran Vía is one of the most important and centrally located streets in Madrid. Even though the idea motivating its construction pertains to Madrid’s nineteenth-century urban imaginary, the Gran Vía was a project which sought to establish the Spanish capital as a symbol of modernity, a project carried out during the twentieth century in a decidedly European context. As demonstrated by Borja Carballo, Rubén Pallol and Fernando Vicente—the authors of the 2008 book titled Madrid’s Expansion: The History of a Capital¬—, and I quote “During the mid-nineteenth century, the principal cities of Europe were determined to cross the threshhold of Modernity, dealing with a series of profound transformations that would completely alter the urban life.” In this context, the city of Madrid and its built environment effectively became a stage, one whose drama embodied the close relationships between urban planning, politics and the economy expressed throughout the twentieth century.

Creator

Dr. Ben Fraser

Publisher

College of Charleston Libraries

Date

December 5, 2013

Contributor

Dr. Ben Fraser

Rights

Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 4.0 / attribution – noncommercial 4.0 International) license.

Format

Video file (.m4v)

Language

Spanish

Moving Image Item Type Metadata

Transcription

The Gran Vía is one of the most important and centrally located streets in Madrid. Even though the idea motivating its construction pertains to Madrid’s nineteenth-century urban imaginary, the Gran Vía was a project which sought to establish the Spanish capital as a symbol of modernity, a project carried out during the twentieth century in a decidedly European context. As demonstrated by Borja Carballo, Rubén Pallol and Fernando Vicente—the authors of the 2008 book titled Madrid’s Expansion: The History of a Capital¬—, and I quote “During the mid-nineteenth century, the principal cities of Europe were determined to cross the threshhold of Modernity, dealing with a series of profound transformations that would completely alter the urban life.” In this context, the city of Madrid and its built environment effectively became a stage, one whose drama embodied the close relationships between urban planning, politics and the economy expressed throughout the twentieth century.

As scholar Edward Baker discusses in his 2009 book, the construction of the Gran Vía began on April 4th, 1910, and was divided into three segments reaching a total of 1,362 meters. The plan which was implemented originated with the architects Francisco Andrés Octavio and José López Sallaberry. From East to West, the street begins at the intersection with Calle Alcalá, marked here by the Edificio Metropolis, and terminates in the Plaza de España. The Edificio Grassy, to the right of the Metropolis and completed in 1917, has the privilege of being the first building with a Gran Vía address. In the distance, occupying yet another privileged spot facing the Red de San Luis, the Edificio Telefónica is visible.

The Edificio Telefónica—designed by Lewis S. Weeks and constructed by the architect Ignacio Cárdenas—was completed during the years 1929 and 30. With a height reaching 17 storeys, this building was, in its day, the tallest in Europe. The luminous face of the clock, visible from the street and illuminated in red at night, is a reminder of the spatialization of time that accompanied increasing industrialization toward the end of the nineteenth century – for example, the division of the globe, in the year 1884, into time zones.

Advancing a bit further, we reach Callao – one of the centers of consumer activity in the capital. The Capitol Building here boasts the Schwepps icon which played an unforgettable role in El día de la bestia, a film directed by Álex de la Iglesia and analyzed by Malcolm Compitello in a reading that fuses urban and cinematographic concerns. In addition, in this plaza we see the Callao cinemas, and turning our gaze even more toward the left, the FNAC store and the great department store Corte Inglés.

From Callo, we can already see the Gran Vía’s terminus… The white building we see is the Torre de Madrid, completed in 1953. The Torre de Madrid shares the Plaza de España with its neighbor, the Edificio España, also completed during the 50s.

Constructed in three segments—the first, as scholar Carlos Sambricio explains, from 1910 to 1918, the second, from 1918 to 1924, and the third, from 1924 to 1932—the Gran Vía continues to be an emblem of Spanish modernity. It appears in numerous works of visual art, many of which will be analyzed within this collaborative space: from a perspective that is not merely historical, but also cultural and perhaps even political…

Duration

Video Duration: 4 minutes 41 seconds

Producer

Dr. Ben Fraser