The true local neighborhood of 19th-century Milan, between Piazza Cordusio and Piazza XXV Aprile, where the arch of Porta Garibaldi (1826-1828) still stands, is organized along the axis that once connected Milan and Como. Today’s Corso Garibaldi (once Borgo di Porta Comasina), faced until the Napoleonic era by many religious complexes, was originally inhabited by craftsmen and merchants whose activities, on the ground floor of modest buildings dating back to the 18th century, enlivened the street during the day. Starting in the second half of the 1800s the neighborhood began to change rapidly. Besides new constructions for the working class (attracted here by the opening of many factories along the nearby Martesana canal), places of entertainment and important cultural institutions confirmed the zone’s active role in the public life of the city. On what is now called Largo Treves, in 1901 the first facility of the Bocconi University was opened, and in 1904 Corriere della Sera moved into the building at Via Solferino 28, still the headquarters of the newspaper.
The cultural character of the quarter, already reflected in the Brera zone by the founding in 1776 of the Academy of Fine Arts and the Pinacoteca, continued to grow in the 1900s. The narrow streets around the academy hosted studios and famous art galleries and became the favorite haunts of artists who would gather in the zone’s many bars and cafes.
In the period after World War II the Garibaldi neighborhood, seriously damaged by bombing, was the focus of a reconstruction plan that by opening new streets and inserting modern residential and commercial buildings threatened to completely erase the traditional urban fabric. Thanks to the firm opposition of the inhabitants of the zone, its impact was attenuated, and later interventions have safeguarded and defended the historic buildings and original spirit of the area. The project of renovation of the Fossati block, done by the studio Albini-Helg (1975), was precisely part of this urban renewal framework. The popular and historic Fossati theater (hence the name of the block), designed by Fermo Zuccari (1859), was restored and transformed, from 1980 to 1996, into the Teatro Studio by the architect Marco Zanuso; together with the construction in that same period of the new facility of the Piccolo Teatro di Milano on nearby Largo Greppi, this completed the project of a new theater center for the city.
Among the most important works of architecture of the area in the period in which the painter Bongiovanni Radice lived here:
Residential complex (1961-1968)
via Ancona, via dei Cavalieri del Santo Sepolcro, via dei Chiostri, via Pontaccio, via Solferino
Progetto: BBPR – Gian Luigi Banfi, Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, Enrico Peressutti, Ernesto Nathan Rogers
Headquarters of the Cassa di Risparmio delle Province Lombarde (1934 – 1941)
via Verdi, 8
Progetto: Giovanni Greppi, Giovanni Muzio
Building for offices and apartments (1947-1948)
Via Broletto, 37
Progetto: Luigi Figini, Gino Pollini