597 - CERDÀ I SUNYER, Ildefons

Cerda’s topographic plan. In 1855 the road engineer and town planner Ildefonso Cerda directed one of the big topographic operations that modernised Barcelona’s cartography and especially was a breakthrough for the layout of the project to widen the city several years later. Cerda undertook the work as civil engineer of the Treasury who could count on a topographic brigade which included his brother Miguel, director of civil works and the master builder Josep Fontserè i Mestres.

The original topographic plan of 1855 was drawn of a scale of 1:5 000 and inspired to precisely and scientifically represent the geographic reality of the surroundings of Barcelona. One of the most important aspects is its wide scope since it is not just limited to the municipality that then belonged to the city but covered the entire territory of the Barcelona plain from the river Besós to the Montjuïc mountain. Consequently, the plan covers all the lines of communication that wove through the plain, roads and railway lines as well as the urban structure of the eight municipalities that surrounded the capital. One of the great contributions was the systematic use of the metre contour lines.

The printed version of 1861 plan. The image commented on here is the publication of the topographic plan six years after the original draught accompanied by the royal shields and that of the city. This version is very important since it had a great impact as cartographic basis of the 1859 municipal call for tender for the projects for the widening Barcelona. The different participants in the competition used this topograohic plan as a starting point. Unlike the original plan, this one was at a scale of 1:10 000 with contour lines for every 5 metres. The sixe of the plan is certainly much easier to handle and allows us to appreciate in all it s detail the territory that was gong to be urbanised in the immediate future. For example, the polemic military area that until 1858 prevented building any closer than 1 253 to the perimeter of the walls appears. As for the old city, the three reform lines that Cerda defined in his project that was approved in 1859 are drawn in.