Rione Venezia di Bagnoli, the broken dream of Lamont Young

by Federico Quagliuolo

Rione Venezia is the perfect representation of Bagnoli: the land of lost dreams, the tomb of illusions, one skeleton of violence which was made on a rich and fertile land that it housed an ancient settlement of fishermen and, in the dreams of those who loved Naples, it would become today a tourist district admired by the whole world.

Let's go in order. But, first of all, let's remember that one is in place fundraiser to make a documentary on the life of one of the most brilliant men in recent history:

Steelworks Bagnoli Rione Venezia lamont Young
The panorama of Bagnoli in the territory that would have been the Rione Venezia instead. Picture of Federico Quagliuolo

Rione Venezia: the project of a visionary architect

We take apart everything that is seen with the eyes, we try not to see that anymore drowned and asphyxiated territory, destroyed by a steel mill now disused with front its piers.
And now, back in the distance 1900, we meet a visionary man, a Neapolitan with a very little southern name: Lamont Young.
Era an architect and urban planner, a genius to whom history has never given due tribute, perhaps because his dreams were too innovative. In fact, he saw in Bagnoli the hope of a tourism future.

It was the 1872 and Young, very young, introduced an extraordinary project to the Municipality of Naples, which in the meantime was in the midst of an urban revolution: one city subway and one ring road underground, which would have connected the whole city.

In love with the sunsets that today can be seen melancholy at Virgilian Park, Young saw us along: one day tourism would be the economic engine of many coastal cities and Naples had to be valued in this sense. Bagnoli would become a sort of Venice with the beauties of Naples just a stone's throw away.

In fact, a series of artificial canals, lakes and thermal areas that would connect the various buildings in the neighborhood. The palaces, on the other hand, would have been rich in plants, hanging gardens and panoramic views over the Gulf of Bagnoli, with numerous luxury hotels. In short, things that today are seen only in those tropical paradises overseas.
For Young the Rione Flegreo was an opportunity, not a place on which to speculate with barracks e concrete pours.

Indeed, in the incipit of his project presented to the Municipality he explicitly said:

"I did not want to base my project on a simple speculation of buying and selling land, which currently forms, unfortunately for the Neapolitans, the substratum on which those who have made proposals for the perimeter enlargement of the city rest: I had to mainly aiming to provide Naples with everything that is now missing "

The common he flunked initially his project because "useless and expensive". Then, on the wave of Rehabilitation of 1884, the enterprising architect (author of extraordinary works throughout the city, such as Villa Hebe or the Aselmeyer Castle) decided to revive his project, also adding a city subway as never before in Europe.

Rione Venezia di Bagnoli, the broken dream of Lamont Young
Rione Venezia as Lamont Young imagined it. Photograph from page.

The special law for Naples and the destruction of the dream Rione Venezia

During the tenure of Nicola Amore, gods were then identified territories to expand Naples. After the unification of Italy, in fact, the ancient capital was about to face an unprecedented economic crisis: the traumatic transition from the Bourbon economic policy to the Piedmontese one, in fact, had led to the collapse of a large number of state-owned enterprises how Pietrarsa and others, like those Swiss, which instead benefited from very favorable tax regimes.

After Remediation, in the early 1900s the need to create one became urgent in the political debate special legislation to favor the industrialization of Naples: for the time the successful economic model it was in fact that of industrial cities, with immense factories in the immediate vicinity (or right inside!) of urban conglomerates, something that would make any urban planner shiver today.
Naples, in the projects of the legislator, he had to align in some way with Turin and Milan, which were about to explode as one of the most advanced industrial centers in Europe. The area behind the modern was therefore identified for the city Business Center (even today it is called Industrial area) and the area of Bagnoli: the proximity to the sea would then have given a strategic advantage.

It was the tombstone on Lamont Young's project.

Rione Venezia Bagnoli
Rione Venezia: who would imagine Bagnoli like this?

The end of a dream

A century and a half it seems long: it separates generations, thoughts, men who, unfortunately, will never be able to communicate with each other, if not through ancient memories and documents.

Young's dream proves instead that things never change: the project was boycotted precisely with tenders to say the least questionable. the City gave Young a very tight time to find investors and carry out his project, otherwise the Bagnoli land would have been auctioned. The architect did some real stunts to find investors. He managed to find support only abroad. But the offers never arrived on the table of the Municipality and therefore Palazzo San Giacomo started theauction to sell Bagnoli.

The owner of Ilva, when the time for Young was up, he bought Bagnoli at a derisory price. And the Municipality of that time, perhaps myopic, perhaps corrupt (and we have few doubts about this, thanks to theSaredo investigation), a Neapolitan genius swept away the intuition to make room for the commercial ambitions of an immense Ligurian company that poisoned Naples and of which, today, we still talk about his tremendous legacy in Taranto.

And Young committed suicide in his home in 1929. 

-Federico Quagliuolo

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1 Comment

Camillo Coppola 6 January 2017 - 2:59

My ectoplasm hovers in the remains of the Acropolis, which I call it
"Winter Palace", it is in the vicinity of "Villa Eba", another fascinating place but full of tormented events.
Confabulus in conciliation with Lamont Young.


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