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  • Monument to Pearson – the Light Trail

Monument to Pearson

Monument to Pearson, the light pioneer.

Frederick Stark Pearson (1861-1915) was a renowned North-American engineer working in the hydroelectric industry, His work was of vital importance in the development and modernisation of the city and this is why a Barcelona monument was erected in his honour and an avenue in Pedralbes named after him.

In the early 20th century, hydroelectric power plants were beginning to be built around the world, after it had been discovered that electricity could be sent over long distances. Against this backdrop, the Catalan engineer Carles Emili Montañés commissioned Pearson to design the project to electrify Catalan industries by harnessing the hydraulic power of the Ebro and its tributaries.

This led Pearson to set up two major multinationals in 1911: the Ebro Irrigation and Power Company, with its headquarters in Canada, and Barcelona Traction Light and Power. This was the first electric power station in Spain, and was nicknamed La Canadenca (the Canadian). Its three chimneys, the Tres Xemeneies, still stand today.

The company prevented Catalan industries from going under during the First World War and produced much of the electricity used in Catalonia.

Pearson's company also purchased the Barcelona tram system and founded the Catalan railways, the Ferrocarrils Catalans, in 1912, which ran on the first electrified track connecting Barcelona and El Vallès. It was vital for the future division of Barcelona into three zones: the trading city in Barceloneta, the residential city on Tibidabo and the industrial belt in El Vallès.

Pearson was an eminent personality of his time and this is why the Barcelona Rotary Club erected a monument in his honour in 1928. You can see the statue in Plaça Pedralbes. It was made by the sculptor Josep Viladomat Massanes in bronze and stone and depicts a women holding a laurel wreath, symbolising victory. Curiously enough, the monument only bears the name Pearson on the plinth and not his portrait as was customary at the time.

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