Progress in the nineteenth-century: planning, building and managing the modern urban infrastructures in Coimbra

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During the 19th century, cities throughout Europe faced a period of transition. The rise in technical skill, the hygienic theories, the urban sanitation and the new forms of transport created an unprecedented transformation in European cities and dictated the emergence of urbanism. Portugal, a small, peripheral country also faced this transition. Moreover, this change was not limited to the urban fabric, it was necessary to create a body of technicians capable of planning and carrying out the major infrastructure works. It was also required to create institutions capable of programming these processes and municipalities had to form technical entities, commission the first topographic surveys and demanded a large dose of politicians’ boldness. Coimbra, a medium-sized city, but until the beginning of the 20th century, the settlement of the only Portuguese University, was an example of these process of modernization. However, the size of the city and the lack of entrepreneurs made it difficult and delayed the process. This paper aims to show how during the second half of the 19th century, Coimbra managed to dare to replicate the improvements in progress in Europe and, beyond the expansion of the urban fabric, introduced modern urban infrastructures into the city.
sanitation, urban planning, infrastructure networks, public service