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Longing for Paris: the Europeanized dream of Caracas urbanism, 1870-1940

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Abstract:

This paper attempts to reconstruct the emergence of modern urbanism in Caracas through the European imagery which informed the cultural evolution of the city, and particularly the Parisian myth, which apparently dominated the Caraquenians' dreams during most of this period. Our analysis is based more on the level of the ideas than on the actual transformation of the city, a premise which is especially valid when dealing with cities like Caracas, whose modest scale until the oil boom of the 1920s prevented foreign influences from materializing in physical terms. From the methodological point of view, such a cultural conception of urbanism means that the research has to deal with a variety of urban discourses-from the non-specialized literature which heralded the forthcoming discipline of urbanism in the Venezuelan capital in the late nineteenth century, to the increasingly specialized agenda generated by urban technicians in the 1930s. Though the original research combined four types of urban discourse-legal, political and administrative texts, urban literature, travel chronicles and technical literature about the city-this paper refers to those which are most directly related to the awakening of public consciousness about the modern city in Caracas society under the influence of European culture.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/026654399364210

Publication date: July 1, 1999

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