In the new Kingdom of Italy up until World War I broke out, Milan affirmed its role as a modern city, a centre for research in industry, politics and the arts. The city renewed its urban design according to the Beruto Plan (1884-1889) that tends towards a suggestion of an international horizon. New monuments were erected in memory of the city’s history such as the Monument to the Five Days built from the design of Giuseppe Grandi in 1881.
The city centre became the place that best represented the ideals and interests of the middle class, the class that would build the new Italian industry and turn the city into the unquestioned leader of economy and finance. The entire Piazza Duomo was redesigned and the Gallery was built to link the cathedral, Palazzo Municipale and Teatro alla Scala, for a vision of the city independent from atmospheric conditions. The San Siro Racetrack was inaugurated on the 10th of May 1888.
The expression of the dynamic Milanese middle class also brought about the construction in 1866 of a monumental cemetery, an open-air museum of modern art and a pantheon to the city’s glory.
The 1891 Brera Triennial provoked both enthusiasm and scandal in the world of visual arts and opened new horizons of aesthetic research. The city welcomed the new style launched by the Exposition of Turin in 1902: Milan is home to one of the most stunning examples of Liberty, Palazzo Castiglioni in Corso Venezia, built by Giuseppe Sommaruga from 1900 to 1903.
Social awareness and political thought were renewed, with particular attention given to the working class, as shown in the work of artists, politicians and sociologists. A telling sign was the transfer of the P.S.I. (socialist party) newspaper “Avanti!” (founded in 1896) to Milan in 1911.
In those years Milan also became one of the capitals of Italian fashion, making brave moves to free itself from the monopoly of Parisian fashion. The major recognition of Milan’s place as an international and industrial metropolis came in 1906 when the city hosted the Universal Exposition (World’s Fair) in the area of Parco Sempione; the Civic Aquarium in what was once one of the fair’s pavilions is an architectonic remainder of the exposition.