The street as sociability space: the case of the Grand Avenues in Paris and Lisbon in the 19th century

Denise Gaudiot, João Pernão, Laura Martins



The industrial revolution, as well as the French revolution in the 18th century, marked the period of transition from feudalism to capitalism in Europe. These two events generated two new social classes: the working class and the bourgeoisie. With the progressive concentration of these emerging classes in urban centers, to the detriment of rural areas, the movement of people, machines and goods became an essential urban function, generating new social public spaces.     This article proposes an analysis, based on a literature review, of the streets known as Grands Boulevards, proposed by George Eugène Haussmann for Paris in the middle of the 19th century, and their role as a sociability space. The aim of this article is to present similarities between the Parisian avenues and Portuguese solutions of streets in Lisbon in social and urban-design terms. The repetition of Haussmannian characteristic was seen in several cities in the world, however in the city of Lisbon it was designed on a much larger scale. The construction of a new avenue, known as Avenida da Liberdade, for the growth and beautification of the city was inspired by Haussmann work in Paris and became a place to see and be seen in. The consumption habits of the new classes within a modern machine city, asked for different street shapes and sizes, which were designed for everyday use in order to organize the city’s urban fabric. Wider, greener and equipped with urban furniture, these representative avenues both in Paris and Lisbon were more inviting and open to a diversity of social classes and their coexistence, until then segregated at public spaces.

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