The area along Avenida Diagonal at the corners of the Left Eixample, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, and Les Corts districts is one of the densest sections of office buildings in the city of Barcelona. While the district is similar in many ways to office areas in the United States in it's sometimes interesting, sometimes extremely neo-liberal feeling of 1980's architecture, it is crucially different in the scale of its buildings, position in the city, and uses. By looking at this area, we can identify many ways in which European cities are planned differently to American ones. To begin, this central office area is obviously not in what many would consider to be “downtown” or “central” Barcelona—this would probably be Plaza Catalunya or Via Laitana or Passig de Gracia. Instead, the Avenida Diagonal business corridor is at the top left of the Eixample, along the border of many higher income or gentrifying neighborhoods in the city. Unlike in American cities, where downtowns are more clearly definable, centrally located, and visible from their skylines, one could go nearly their entire semester exploring Barcelona to never really explore this area (as I did). Additionally, most cities in America do not have their central business area bordering some of the most expensive real estate in the city: wealthier people typically have opposed tall building development near their houses and live further outside of the city center. Finally, the business corridor, while it has underground parking for private cars, is completely accessible by transit such as regional trains, local trains, trams, and buses. This results in an area that is more walkable, better integrated into the city around it, and one that can support more local businesses such as luxury shops, cafes, supermarkets, restaurants, and bars. To see how different this area is from the downtown of the city in America you’re closest to, I recommend making a visit (and see beautiful Parc del Turó while you’re there).
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Hi All! My name is Curtis Kline, I'm from New York City, and I am abroad in Barcelona this spring. I am interested in food, culture, and urban studies. In my free time I will be exploring Barcelona and Europe and am excited to share my experiences with you!