The current Plaza de las Glòries was destined to be, according to the Cerdà plan, the main square in Barcelona and the future center of the city, however, municipal authorities and citizens have ended up turning it into a crossroads, very far from the importance that in Ildefons Cerdà boasted about his day.
When Ildefons Cerdà designed his Eixample plan, he conceived that, due to its structure, the city would have a tendency to expand to the north. For that reason he designed the place as the future center of the city.
He had made the three main avenues he had designed converge here: Diagonal, Cortes and Meridiana, as the three most important traffic axes inside the city.
Another very important thing in the design of his work is that he had made the extension of both streets coincide in the old Faro del Puerto, current Torre del Reloj, point of intersection of the parallel 41º 22′ 33” N and the meridian 2º 13′ 45”.38 E. Hence its name, Parallel and Meridian.
In 1950, Plaça de las Glòries was still a wasteland with open-air train tracks and a level crossing that had occasionally brought more than one disappointment. The newspapers of the time published articles commenting on how dangerous they were, due to the lack of security.
The area lacked public surface transportation, buses took the way back before crossing the level crossing. The metro then only reached the Marina station, which had been inaugurated in 1933.
The Glòries and Clot stations did not come into service until 1951
And although the Clot station was on the Meridiana with València, the Glòries station was located in a poorly lit field, which, at night, was difficult to cross due to the lack of lighting
The closest trams, lines 60 and 62, stopped at calle València y Mallorca with the end of the line at calle Rogent con Mallorca. At that time there began a narrow street known as Calle Nuria. With the urbanization of the area, the street disappeared and continued.
What had to be the city square suffered from the negligence of the rulers who made it be abandoned and turned into a deplorable place until the 1960s.
The traffic began to be unsustainable for the citizens who had to travel to the Vallès area and for the towns that were located on the road to France.
An overpass was planned that would start at Lepanto street and would save the level crossing
The invention, which had to solve all kinds of problems, brought many problems since its inauguration, since the overpass had a slope until it passed the train tracks, it made a sharp turn to the left, then descending a quarter of a circle to Avenida Meridian.
The element was conflictive at the junction of the arch and the straight line and it was a rare day that the firefighters and ambulances did not have to intervene due to an accident. It caused the car and the driver to jump into the void causing people’s outrage.
In 1962, the Gran Vía was only open after the current square until the street of San Juan de Malta. Diagonal was not urbanized and only Meridiana fulfilled part of the task of circulatory movement, which showed that the northern part of the city had not solved the problem of circulation.
The famous ‘Scalextric’
The second reform reform took place in the 70s. After many projects it was decided to accept a project in which a Scalextricsomething that we saw in American movies and that was the panacea for all problems.
The idea was only liked by everyone on the day of the inauguration, since, although it was not bad for motorists, pedestrians quickly got tired of going up and down the ramps and stairs to move from one side to another.
The knot of Glòries
With the award of the 1992 Olympics, the authorities had to plan a drastic solution to the area.
The planning to build the Olympic Village in Poblenou had to provide a solution to the transportation of the athletes due to the number of cars that entered and left the city every day, which would cause traffic chaos.
The two Rondas (Litoral and Dalt) were built, the Diagonal from Glòries to Diagonal Mar was urbanized and the two junctions that should distribute the flow of cars in the northern part of the city, Tinidad and Glòries, were built.
It was disassembled Scalextric and the element that would form the Glòries knot was formed, which was inaugurated shortly before the Olympics.
But what had been a solution forever was only momentary
The traffic issue was half resolved, but the same did not happen with pedestrians. Neighborhood associations in the area complained, because the construction of the ring had put a series of impediments to citizens.
The view of the square was null, since it was only used by the cars that used it to leave the elevated circulation ring. This congested outgoing traffic and daily circulation, as private cars, public buses, the tram and cars that left the ring to deviate through the area converged.
The lower part of the central body was used by the City Council as a parking place for the cars picked up by the crane.
This took away from the square a pleasant view of it and, although they had put a subway entrance and some gardens in the center, it was hardly used due to the problem that citizens represented getting there, due to the time lost by the traffic lights and down the small sidewalks.
The decision was made to demolish the built part of the ring and use that space for the circulation of buses, taxis and emergency vehicles, which improved circulation in the area, but not the comfort of pedestrians.
The square seems like a cursed place, in which every so often a remodeling must be done
The overpass that brought visibility to the place was seen with bad eyes and it was intended once and for all to give a different image.
Several projects were made and, as always, it was said that this would be the definitive one. It was to end in 2018. Los Encantes Viejos (Bellcaire Fair), which had been located since 1928 on a plot of land on the confluence square with Cartagena Street, moved to a new location near the square. The Barcelona Design Museum (Museu del Disseny de Barcelona or DHUB) was built.
Finally, with the last reform in our times, the square has been landscaped, the ring road has been demolished and circulation has been located at ground level again, in addition to building a tunnel to absorb the vehicles that leave the Gran Vía to look for the freeway.