The descent towards the lower town of public services at the same time as many of the aristocratically owned buildings being abandoned, had already led, by the end of the 19th century, the upper town becoming a working class and decadent area of Bergamo.
Preceded by an advertisement for a public competition in 1927, senior town official, podestà Ernesto Suardo, proceeded in 1933 to draw up a plan to expropriate all the dwellings deemed to be unhealthy. Having obtained State finance, in 1934 podestà Antonio Locatelli appointed Luigi Angelini to draft an urban renewal project, which was then put into action in 1937.
The urban regeneration programme for the upper town greatly divided the town. On the one hand there were those, like the town planner and civil engineer Chitò and the architect Bergonzo, with the political backing of Pietro Capoferri, who wished to proceed with opening up a “wide demolition route”, which would have meant demolishing numerous dwellings along Via Colleoni. On the other there was civil engineer Luigi Angelini who, with the political support of Suardo and Locatelli instead, only wanted to knock down the unstable and dangerous buildings, restoring, as in the case of the Convent of San Franceso, the areas of historical importance and basing new public works departments within them. The aim was to bring life back to the Upper Town, returning the historical district to the splendour it had enjoyed in centuries past. The debate was particularly acrimonious and not without intimidation towards Angelini (a professional who was not a registered member of the national fascist party) and his political supporters, especially as the very same fascist party held overall authority.
The photographs on display at the exhibition document the outstanding photographic campaign undertaken in 1938 and show the start of some of the work. The urban regeneration project, following Angelini’s plan, was resumed in 1946 and, by and large, completed in the early Sixties.