Browsing by Author "Quesada Avendano, Florencia"

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  • Quesada Avendano, Florencia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    This work examines the urban modernization of San José, Costa Rica, between 1880 and 1930, using a cultural approach to trace the emergence of the bourgeois city in a small Central American capital, within the context of order and progress. As proposed by Henri Lefebvre, Manuel Castells and Edward Soja, space is given its rightful place as protagonist. The city, subject of this study, is explored as a seat of social power and as the embodiment of a cultural transformation that took shape in that space, a transformation spearheaded by the dominant social group, the Liberal elite. An analysis of the product built environment allows us to understand why the city grew in a determined manner: how the urban space became organized and how its infrastructure and services distributed. Although the emphasis is on the Liberal heyday from 1880-1930, this study also examines the history of the city since its origins in the late colonial period through its consolidation as a capital during the independent era, in order to characterize the nineteenth century colonial city that prevailed up to 1890 s. A diverse array of primary sources including official acts, memoirs, newspaper sources, maps and plans, photographs, and travelogues are used to study the initial phase of San Jose s urban growth. The investigation places the first period of modern urban growth at the turn of the nineteenth century within the prevailing ideological and political context of Positivism and Liberalism. The ideas of the city s elite regarding progress were translated into and reflected in the physical transformation of the city and in the social construction of space. Not only the transformations but also the limits and contradictions of the process of urban change are examined. At the same time, the reorganization of the city s physical space and the beginnings of the ensanche are studied. Hygiene as an engine of urban renovation is explored by studying the period s new public infrastructure (including pipelines, sewer systems, and the use of asphalt pavement) as part of the Saneamiento of San José. The modernization of public space is analyzed through a study of the first parks, boulevards and monuments and the emergence of a new urban culture prominently displayed in these green spaces. Parks and boulevards were new public and secular places of power within the modern city, used by the elite to display and educate the urban population into the new civic and secular traditions. The study goes on to explore the idealized image of the modern city through an analysis of European and North American travelogues and photography. The new esthetic of theatrical-spectacular representation of the modern city constructed a visual guide of how to understand and come to know the city. A partial and selective image of generalized urban change presented only the bourgeois facade and excluded everything that challenged the idea of progress. The enduring patterns of spatial and symbolic exclusion built into Costa Rica s capital city at the dawn of the twentieth century shed important light on the long-term political social and cultural processes that have created the troubled urban landscapes of contemporary Latin America.