Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Bye, Bye, Barcelona

City Lab pointed me at this documentary called “Bye, Bye, Barcelona” that describes that city’s increasingly love-hate relationship with tourists as it starts to choke on the sheer volume of visitors, which increased from around 1.7M/yr in 1990 to about 8M in 2013. The city is now the most popular cruise ship destination in the Mediterranean, and up to seven huge ships can dock there simultaneously, disgorging their passengers into Las Ramblas or Sagrada Familia. This video must have struck a nerve as it’s been watched over 200,000 times. It if doesn’t display for you, watch on You Tube.

Here’s a bonus bridge construction time lapse. It’s from Southern Indiana where the bridge across the Ohio River at Madison was replaced by building a new span on temporary piers, demolishing the old span, then sliding the new span onto the old piers. Here’s a time lapse of the slide operation. If it doesn’t display, watch on You Tube.

Topics: Economic Development, Historic Preservation, Public Policy, Urban Culture
Cities: Barcelona

6 Responses to “Bye, Bye, Barcelona”

  1. Rod Stevens says:

    As a college student, i visited Barcelona right after Franco’s death or downfall in 1977. It was phenomenal, and I will never forget a lunch at a local bar, out in the neighborhoods, where the locals gave me the recipe for paella. Two months the streets La Rambla had been filled with people celebrating their newfound freedom. It’s hard to think that this wonderful “midsize” city is now quashed with tourism. When you lose the local, you lose what draws people there in the first place–a look at another lifestyle that you might want to take on bits of for yourself.

  2. Ziggy says:

    I haven’t been to Barcelona (and now I don’t want to go there for fear of offending), but I completely understand why its urban qualities are so alluring. It may be the world’s most beautiful and enjoyable city from everything I’ve heard and seen from afar.

    Fortunately, North American cities will not have to suffer Barcelona’s fate. Maybe San Francisco, Vancouver and Montreal if they don’t get their act together.

    Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, Phoenix, LA, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Denver and New York seem quite safe for now.

    Minneapolis may need to adjust strategies if the word gets out. I also worry about Austin, Portland and Seattle.

    I think Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, Las Vegas and Providence will be okay.

    Does anyone think Charlotte, Richmond and Milwaukee are in danger? New Orleans? If so, civic leaders should huddle immediately!

    I’m guessing Columbus and Indianapolis are also immune from the overwhelming tourist hoards. But of course one can’t assume anything. Maybe Albuquerque should be on alert, but I guess everyone down there is more worried about the immigrant hoards than tourists these days.

    That leave Wichita – what are the folks in Kansas going to do about a potential tourist onslaught that diminishes their overall quality of life?

  3. Ziggy says:

    Not to pile on, but it occurs to me that Topeka should also be on high alert for a Barcelona-like onslaught of tourism.

    The Department of Homeland Security should certainly be on standby, and the folks who run those FEMA camps (if they actually exist) should make sure the toilets in the latrines are flushing properly.

    Omaha, meantime, should be elevated to Code Orange in case any spillover of Kansas based tourism decides to head north.

  4. John Morris says:

    Aaron earlier said allowing major construction in San Francisco would kill the city people know. But is city kept alive purely as a tourist destination really alive?

    I don’t have an answer. Don’t know enough about how Barcelona came to this place.

  5. Brian M says:

    John: There is plenty of areas and locations in San Francisco which do NOT need to be “preserved”. Unless it is vital to protect parking lots and 1957 concrete block warehouses (or ugly 1970s skyscrapers). The biggest problem is the cost structure, not new construction.

  6. John Morris says:

    “The biggest problem is the cost structure, not new construction.”

    I was commenting on view Aaron stated on here. I agree that San Francisco still has considerable infill potential and a lot of ugly buildings. The cost structure partly reflects a lack of construction.

    In cases like Barcelona & San Francisco, preserving the buildings = destroying the life of the city, leaving it as museum or tourist attraction.

The Urban State of Mind: Meditations on the City is the first Urbanophile e-book, featuring provocative essays on the key issues facing our cities, including innovation, talent attraction and brain drain, global soft power, sustainability, economic development, and localism. Included are 28 carefully curated essays out of nearly 1,200 posts in the first seven years of the Urbanophile, plus 9 original pieces. It's great for anyone who cares about our cities.

About the Urbanophile


Aaron M. Renn is an opinion-leading urban analyst, consultant, speaker, and writer on a mission to help America’s cities thrive and find sustainable success in the 21st century.

Full Bio


Please email before connecting with me on LinkedIn if we don't already know each other.



Copyright © 2006-2014 Urbanophile, LLC, All Rights Reserved - Click here for copyright information and disclosures