Of the 8 administrative units in which Bilbao is divided, Deusto is district number 1. Its territory covers the right bank of the Nervion estuary from the University of Deusto to Elorrieta and comprises the neighbourhoods of Arangoiti, Ibarrekolanda, San Ignacio, Elorrieta, San Pedro de Deusto and La Ribera. It is the third most populated district in Bilbao and until 1925 it was an independent municipality.
The hybridization of the district of Deusto dates back to long ago. Originally, La Ribera (the Riverbank) was the most commercial and cosmopolitan area due to the maritime influence, whereas the interior, more rural, was better known for the production oftxakoli wine and delicious tomatoes from the large vegetable garden which stretched from San Pedro to San Ignacio.
The 19th Century saw the beginning of the transformation of Deusto: Bilbao Goyoaga, the shipyards, etc. But the decisive element in the configuration of the district of Deusto at that time was the railroad that connected Bilbao to the sea. It enabled the bourgeoisie of Bilbao to go to Las Arenas to enjoy the sun and breathe clean air but it also enabled the residents of Deusto to travel comfortably to the capital and take their products to the market.
In the early 20th Century, the urban landscape of Deusto changed considerably with the opening of its main arterial road, Lehendakari Aguirre Avenue, the construction of Deusto Bridge and the opening of the canal and the San Ignacio-Elorrieta housing project. Meanwhile, La Ribera continued with its ongoing industrialization process: Artiach, Talleres Deusto, La Coromina Industrial, Cadenas Vicinay, etc.
Deusto has always been a bridge between cultures. First, with the immigrants from other regions of the country who came seeking employment and in recent years, with those who have come from other countries and have helped to transform the appearance of Lehendakari Aguirre Avenue: international restaurants, various hairdressing salons, shops selling typical products from other countries, etc.
Deusto looks with other eyes. With light eyes, slanted eyes, dark eyes, big eyes, almond-shaped eyes… In the year 2013 the foreign population of the district of Deusto amounted to 3.543 people, representing 7.1% of the total population of the district, with a predominantly Latin-American “look”.
It is mostly young people, aged 25 to 35, who represent 36.61% of the foreign population residing in the district, followed by the 17 to 24 year group, who account for 12.73% and live mainly in San Pedro neighbourhood but also in San Ignacio, Ibarrekolanda and Arangoiti.
The Department of Equality, Cooperation and Citizenship of Bilbao City Council thinks it is essential to make use of the opportunities provided by this diversity so as to promote economic and social development, as they consider that this diversity contributes to increasing the attractiveness and the competitiveness of the cities. It is therefore everybody’s responsibility to correctly manage diversity as this will lead to a society whose basic social cohesion principle will be openness, understood as a positive attitude towards other ideas and cultures, different ways of being and of doing things; in short, accepting change to favour innovation, creativity and multiculturalism.
To make this transition easier, Bilbao City Council has a Municipal Plan for Diversity Management which promotes coexistence and integration by developing various lines of action which are to be applied directly in all the districts of the city and of which Identibuzz Deusto is a clear example.
Meanwhile, the coming and going of the people from Deusto is being observed by the penetrating look of a majestic tiger which, atop its perch, beside the estuary, issues a rumbling and thunderous roar, a call for the change and innovation processes which are taking place in the district and for which we are all somehow responsible.