The period after World War II

The first years after the end of the Second World War are years of harsh realization of the damage done, leading to awareness of the urgent need for reconstruction – of neighborhoods and buildings destroyed by the war, but also of the economic fabric and the infrastructures – and its courageous beginnings. The concert conducted by Arturo Toscanini on 11 May 1946 on the stage of Teatro alla Scala, seriously damaged by bombings in August 1943 and reconstructed in record time, is the symbol of the hopes, activism and concrete commitment of the Milanese ruling classes and citizens. That same year sees the founding, in fact, of the Casa della Cultura and, at the start of the next year, the project of the Piccolo Teatro is already under way, all signs of progress towards the future.

The first elections after the two decades of Fascism, held on 7-8 April 1946, confirm the support for Antonio Greppi, already chosen in April of the previous year by the CLNAI (National Liberation Committee) as the transitional mayor; his coalition is composed of socialist and reformist influences. The task before them is a difficult one. As Greppi himself recalls, there are millions of cubic meters of rubble to remove, 1400 destroyed buildings, 11,000 damaged buildings, almost 250,000 rooms to reconstruct and repair, dozens of seriously damaged or razed schools, 13 bombed hospital pavilions, 20 more or less damaged centers for the provision of potable water, hundreds of thousands of square meters of badly ruined pavements. Not to mention the public buildings that have been drastically harmed, including Palazzo Marino, the Sforzesco Castle, Brera, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the Portici Meridionali, Palazzo Sormani, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, the Triennale, the former Palazzo Reale and the former Villa Reale, the old Ospedale Maggiore, the Museum of Natural History, the Aquarium, the Arena, Teatro Manzoni, Velodromo Vigorelli. And 50,000 plants destroyed, out of 80,000 that existed in 1942.

Hard years, but also years full of hope for reconstruction, for Milan and the rest of Italy. This is the period that lays the groundwork for the economic miracle that truly changes the visage of the country during the decade to come.