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The first decades of the 20th century fed off of large doses of the inertia that characterized the 19th century, barely altered by the incipient industrialization taking place in the capital and in the city of Miranda, and the subsequent consolidation of the employer associations and class-conscious or integrating labor associations. This social dichotomy was reflected, as would be expected, in housing: while the bourgeoisie leaders were identified with the most avant-garde artistic developments, as seen in some of the buildings n the Plaza Mayor, the Paseo del Espolón, and the Paseo de la Isla, the first immigrants to join the proletariat in the capital began feverish construction of “Cheap housing” in the city’s suburbs.
As a counterpoint to this marked trend of continuance, the middle years of the century were characterized by two truly traumatic events – the Civil War of 1936-39 and the rural exodus of the 50s-70s. In terms of the crudest realities of war, as a battlefield the province of Burgos was hardly touched, with the exception of the front in the barren lands and valleys of the north. This is not to say that the drama of the war went unnoticed by the population of Burgos as a whole, which was shaken daily by the calls for new soldiers, the news of the deaths on the different Spanish fronts, and above all, by the atmosphere of terror that was sown among the civilian population of the immense majority of the province’s towns and cities by the most aggressive sectors of the warring bands. In the territory of Burgos, which fell entirely within the so-called “National” band, the protagonism in this sense corresponded, and was especially intense, to the groups who sympathized with the uprising, whose programs of purges, cleansing, and summary executions gave the conflict violent connotations universal in scope and with brutal intensity
On the other side of this situation, in these years, the capital lived with a bittersweet sensation of protagonism and vitality, by becoming the center of the governmental institutions of the national zone and housing a large number of functionaries, to the satisfaction of the economic leaders responsible for the urban supply.
The War ended, and the territory of Burgos, including its capital – abandoned by the victorious military as soon as they could move to Madrid – stagnated, curing the wounds left by the fratricidal conflict in melancholy isolation. The rural world was revived demographically in the 50s, but the economic trends of the group left little room for hope. Industrialization continued to show minimal vitality, and factories were built in a timid, discontinuous stream, intermittent and disconnected, with no capacity to change the general panorama: in 1960, agriculture still employed 52% of the active population, with industry supporting a mere 22% of the province’s production.
This imbalance gave rise to the second traumatic episode in the recent history of Burgos: the depopulation of the rural areas, which began in the 50s with the mass exodus of groups from the towns to the areas that at that time were already showing an attractive industrial vitality and that quired labor: Madrid and the Basque Country, where many Burgos families settled at the end of the 50s and the beginning of the 60s.
The declaration of Burgos as a “Pole of Development” in 1964 and the later official development of the industrial centers of Miranda de Ebro and Aranda de Duero redirected the flow of the rural population to those cities, which allowed the province to maintain its overall demographic potential, which increased from 344,000 in 1900 to 349,000 in 2001, of which approximately 65% were concentrated in the province’s three large cities: Burgos, Miranda de Ebro, and Aranda de Duero, which have been joined in recent decades, with force but still trailing in terms of demographic potential, by Briviesca, demonstrating its capacity to attract those from inside and outside the province to work in its industries.
Rural depopulation was particularly intense in the Burgos districts of Loras, los Páramos, Valles de Sedano, and the Tierra de Lara, while the other areas have remained at the levels required to continue working the fields, which, thanks to the increase in the size of farms and mechanization has far exceeded the production potential of the first half of the century. Likewise, the abandonment of the towns by the traditional laborers has not, except on rare occasions, resulted in the ruin of their buildings, which have been restored and refurbished in recent decades as second homes for the inhabitants of the outlying towns during vacations and weekends.
With the main cities and towns of Burgos firmly entrenched in the development of the 60s, the future was cleared definitively with the official establishment of democracy in 1978 and the incorporation into the European Union in 1986
Both of these events symbolized the support for a general desire for progress and development, which in all of our cities and towns has translated into a decided will to recover local civic pride, which has in turn made it possible to maintain a sustained policy of clean public image of each urban center, by renovating streets, remodeling antiquated houses, restoring and beautifying the most representative historic monuments, moving industrial and livestock activities from the city centers to better suited peripheral areas, concern for quality of life in laying out urban developments, the multiplication of cultural possibilities and sports and recreational installations open to the citizens, and the support of the social life in each town by caring for its associative framework. F.J.P.P.