1930: International success and social fragmentation

The urban area of Barcelona had 1,107,000 inhabitants in 1930 and spilled over the municipal limits that had been established three decades earlier. Of the 1,005,600 who lived within the municipality of Barcelona, 49% had been born outside the province (some 37% outside of Catalonia). The majority were citizens from inland Catalonia, followed by Valencians, Aragonese and Murcians.

Electrification, the boost of the metallurgy and chemical industries, the First World War (with supplies for the warring sides), the creation of the Metro and the works of the 1929 International Exposition encouraged especially intense urban growth in the 1920s, when 370,000 immigrants arrived in Barcelona.

The “Paris of the south” or the “New York of Spain”, as it was rhetorically dubbed, Barcelona was the main human focus of attention throughout Spain.


The magnet of Barcelona had made itself felt throughout all of Catalonia and even beyond to the former Crown of Aragon, especially along the coast, in Murcia and Almeria, two provinces that had been especially affected by the crisis in mining and the situation on the land. Meanwhile, technological development, speculative businesses and cultural and bohemian life had contributed to the growth of the colony of foreigners, which was also increased by the war in Europe, rising to 27,000 people by 1930, some 2.7% of the inhabitants in the municipality of Barcelona.

Alongside the traditional destinations of the new arrivals in the old town and in the former industrial suburbs of the Pla area was the new outlying quarters to the north of Sant Andreu (La Trinitat) and to the west (Collblanc), while shanty towns proliferated on the beach, Montjuïc and on the outskirts of the Eixample. Urban expansion even reached L’Hospitalet – known as “Murcia Xica”, or “little Murcia” – Santa Coloma, Sant Adrià and Badalona.
The precariousness with which much of the population lived, because of hard working conditions, meagre wages and deficiencies in the field of housing, was the main cause of the strong social tension throughout this entire period.