Lisbon’s womb: an approach to the city metabolism in the turn to the twentieth century

The consumption and production of food products in the municipality of Lisbon in the 1890–1900 decade is assessed with the support of historical cartography and statistical resources. For the first time, food production in a municipality in the turn to the twentieth century is accounted and simultaneously subject of a visual analysis of the land used for agriculture and of the water infrastructures that supported such uses. Agriculture occupied at least 40 % of the territory of the city, while the built environment occupied no more than 16 % of the territory. However, local production of food was far from supplying most of the citizens’ needs, and substantial food imports were needed. In this context, the municipality behaved like a heterotrophic system, highly dependent on the external supply of resources. Moreover, comparing to other European cities at the time Lisbon was facing in the end of the nineteenth century a late and slow transition from an agrarian social metabolism to an industrial one, suggesting that Lisbon was still relatively high-solar-powered as compared to other European cities at the time that were already highly fossil-fuel-powered.