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The Metropolis in Latin America, 1830–1930: Cityscapes, Photographs, Debates

Edited by Idurre Alonso and Maristella Casciato

This volume examines the unprecedented growth of several cities in Latin America from 1830 to 1930, observing how sociopolitical changes and upheavals created the conditions for the birth of the metropolis.

In the century between 1830 and 1930, following independence from Spain and Portugal, major cities in Latin America experienced large-scale growth, with the development of a new urban bourgeois elite interested in projects of modernization and rapid industrialization. At the same time, the lower classes were eradicated from old city districts and deported to the outskirts. The Metropolis in Latin America, 1830–1930 surveys this expansion, focusing on six capital cities—Havana, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, and Lima—as it examines sociopolitical histories, town planning, art and architecture, photography, and film in relation to the metropolis.

Drawing from the Getty Research Institute’s vast collection of books, prints, and photographs from this period, largely unpublished until now, this volume reveals the cities’ changes through urban panoramas, plans depicting new neighborhoods, and photographs of novel transportation systems, public amenities, civic spaces, and more. It illustrates the transformation of colonial cities into the monumental modern metropolises that, by the end of the 1920s, provided fertile ground for the emergence of today’s Latin American megalopolis. 

Idurre Alonso is associate curator of Latin American collections at the Getty Research Institute. Maristella Casciato is senior curator and head of architectural collections at the Getty Research Institute.

“The inclusion of high-quality images, primarily from the Getty Research Institute archive but also from other Latin American and US archives, also makes this publication valuable. While the book showcases traditional panoramic views of the history of these cities, it also includes more innovative and specific takes. . . . The book will surely contribute to disseminating knowledge on these cities among a broader public that does not speak these languages fluently.”
—Rodrigo Booth, Architectural Histories

The Metropolis in Latin America, 1830–1930 is a robust publication that exceeds the scope of the typical catalogue. . . . Even for those already familiar with these complex histories, this luxurious volume is a worthy addition to their library shelves.”
—Ingrid Quintana-Guerrero, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

The Metropolis in Latin America is a beautiful object to be treasured as a true Wunderkammer extracted from the Getty Research Institute’s outstanding collection of historical maps and images.”
—Mauricio Tenorio, Hispanic American Historical Review (HAHR)

“A sumptuous and impressive achievement.”
Danielle Stewart, Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture

“The book is enlivened by an interdisciplinary approach and a refreshing focus on the people who designed, built and lived in these cities.”
—Gauvin Alexander Bailey, The Burlington Magazine

“An important resource for architecture libraries and collections that are strong in the history of Latin America.”
—Colleen Farry, ARLIS/NA

“Fills vital gaps in scholarship about this foundational period. . . . The Metropolis gives readers a deeper understanding for why these cities are the way they are today.”
—Lauren Moya Ford, Hyperallergic

“The authors shed light on the transformations that modified the colonial model of Iberian cities in America, from Mexico to Argentina, displacing the axis of viceregal power toward a circuit of cities that were able to expand and gather international prestige during the republican period. The book includes an unusual repertoire of topics in the field of research of history at the early stages of modernity in Latin America.”
—Gabriela Rangel, artistic director, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA)

The Metropolis in Latin America is an excellent survey featuring the city’s key role in the conformation of the social and political order of the newly born republics, with enlightening essays that discuss a broad range of interdisciplinary approaches. A magnificent iconographic collection shows how Latin American urban development challenged Western architecture’s aesthetic canons, became an accurate laboratory for the newly constituted discipline of urbanism, and shaped the structure of its own image and identity, as we can see today.”
—Horacio Torrent, professor of architecture, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

324 pages
11 x 10 1/2 inches
154 color & 24 b/w illustrations
14 maps, 2 tables, 2 foldouts
ISBN 978-1-60606-694-2

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Research Institute