Critical Analysis #5
November 28, 2018
In Charles Walker’s article, “The Upper Class and Their Upper Stories,” he describes the efforts the Viceroy Jose Antonio Manso de Velasco faced during the catastrophe while trying to implement and promote new measures to help the civilians in the city. Walker shows how the Bourbon reforms took advantage of this situation and knew they had a clean slate within Lima due to the large-scale earthquake in 1746. This large catastrophe brought thousands of looters into the city such as blacks and slaves, which resulted in the Bourbon reform to try to control the city as soon as possible. The Bourbon reforms ideas generally were focused on helping the government succeed in controlling the city and improving help within the military, but their biggest concern was the idea of making economic profit. The Bourbon reforms believed that the church had been ineffective in preventing corruption from happening in the new world and believed the council had lost control of the people due to contraband and trade getting out of hand. With this earthquake killing an estimate number of casualties from 1,200 to 6,000 out of a population of 55,000, and another 10,000 from a tsunami[footnoteRef:1], the Bourbon Reforms were more focused on seeing how they could create an urban society that was safer, rather than their original ideas of overlapping jurisdictions, helping the military and creating economic profit. [1: Charles Walker, "The Upper Classes and Their Upper Stories: Architecture and the Aftermath of the Lima Earthquake of 1746." Hispanic American Historical Review 83, no. 1 (2003): 53.]
Within the reconstruction taking place, the idea of creating a safe environment gave rise to a series of conflicts that ultimately limited or even prevented reform. [footnoteRef:2] At first, the idea of moving the city from one location to another came about, but later was turned down since rebuilding the city was going to cost an estimate of 300 million pesos, while repairing it would only cost 1.1 million.[footnoteRef:3] With this plan on rebuilding the city, Viceroy Manso de Velasco and the city council came with the proposal to rebuild the city while keeping in mind the idea of future earthquakes. The city council brought in architect Louis Godin, who recommended widening the streets along Lima while limiting the size of the homes to only one story. This new plan strictly prohibited tall buildings and wanted to demolish existing buildings that surpassed more than one floor. [2: Ibid, 57.] [3: Ibid, 67. ]
Lima’s upper-class societies disagreed greatly with the Viceroy and Godin due to the idea that by demolishing these homes, it only brought stress and complications to the citizens lives. Most of these upper-class members depended on having two story homes because, if taken down, it would negatively reduce the size of their residence, while also disrupting their financial...