Today’s Plaça d’Àngel Pestaña has gone from being a major centre of slum dwellings and symbol of urban-planning speculation during the Porcioles era to become the focal point of the La Prosperitat neighbourhood, thanks to its local residents’ fighting stamina during the Franco dictatorship and transition to democracy.
The builder Antonio Llobet Torrent started a project in the 1960s at this point in Nou Barris - known as the Pla de Santa Engràcia - for 40 dwellings on a plot of land that the 1957 Building Plot Plan had allocated as an area for public buildings. The property developer had been selling each dwelling to two or three families at the same time, until the scam was discovered. The builder was convicted but the work remained half finished and the dwellings’ purchasers - mostly working-class families who had moved to Barcelona from other parts of Spain - were left without home or money. Many of the people that had been conned went to live in the half-built flats and were gradually joined by other families, mainly of gypsy origin, who built shacks around them. This shanty town was completely forgotten about by the City Council, as the municipal census carried out 1974 by the Municipal Housing Trust did not even mention them.
Then in 1977, following an outbreak of scabies among the Santa Engràcia shanty town's children, the Residents’ Association strengthened their demands under the slogan “Flats, yes, shacks, no!”. The Mayor at the time, José María Socías, promised to deliver decent homes to shanty town residents within a year and a half but it soon became apparent that his pledge would not be met. Local residents reacted by carrying out several acts of protest such as blocking traffic in Avinguda Meridiana and hijacking urban buses on as many as three separate occasions, one of which took the bus to the front of the mayor’s house. Twenty years of struggle from local residents finally bore fruit and on 10 March 1983 the shacks were pulled down and their former residents provided with decent homes.
Once the demolition was completed, Pla de Santa Engràcia was emptied and local residents called for a square and a neighbourhood centre to be built there. However, the company FECSA started to build a transformer station there; but local residents put a stop to the work by dumping abandoned cars on the site. The square was finally officially opened on 14 December 1986 and now houses a neighbourhood centre run by local residents themselves. The City Committee for Safeguarding the Memory of Shanty town Residents put up a plaque in April 2015 in homage to the people who used to live there.
This part of the La Prosperitat neighbourhood has been named after anarcho-syndicalist leader, Àngel Pestaña Núñez (1886-1937), since 1980. Pestaña became the highest-ranking member of the National Labour Confederation (CNT) during Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship, after the assassination of Salvador Seguí. He founded the Partit Sindicalista in 1932 which joined the Front Popular’s programme at the 1936 elections, where Pestaña was elected an MP to the Spanish Parliament. He was appointed Deputy Secretary General of War after the outbreak of the Civil War but his failing health forced him into retirement a few months later
Address: Plaça Àngel Pestaña || Coordinates: (LAT, LONG): 41.441686000, 2.179440000