The city of A Coruña that Picasso knew was a thriving city experiencing rapid growth. With almost 40,000 inhabitants, it had become the most populous city in Galicia. By mid-century, the city walls surrounding what nowadays is the old town, the city centre, were demolished in order to easily connect Pescadería and encourage the city's development. By the eighties the expansion district was already being designed. In this new area, which was still under construction at the time, the Ruiz Picasso family set up their home in a rented apartment on Payo Gómez Street in 1891.
The old town was mainly occupied by religious and military buildings, whereas the Pescadería was destined to house families, factories and shops. The area around María Pita had been cleared, although its configuration back then was very different from its current appearance, with barely a dozen houses built. The City Council was located in the former Saint Augustin's convent, which was annexed to Saint George's church before it moved to Franja Street.
Pescadería's name is not a coincidence. It is located on a small isthmus between the two seas: the windy Orzán and the more protected Marina. Most of the activities that took place there were related to fishery.
The Marina galleries were almost entirely finished when the Ruiz Picasso family arrived in A Coruña. Installing galleries in houses was a common practice in the city that began in mid-century and also happened in Betanzos, Pontedeume and Ferrol. Payo Gómez's house also had galleries. They were fixed in Picasso's memory and many years later he would ask his friend, the journalist Olano, about them.
Real and San Andrés streets connected the old town to the city's access points. They were also two important commercial streets where some of the most famous cafés, such as Suizo, Café de Puga, Universal or Café Restaurant stood. The main shops were there too, and they offered all kinds of new and assorted merchandising. There were, among others, Farmacia Villar, Fotografía Sellier, Papelería de Ferrer, Canuto Berea's music shop or Carré Aldao's Librería Regional. Back then it was common for local painters to exhibit their works in shop windows on Real Street in hopes of selling them. It was not only something that students such as young Picasso would do, but also more established painters such as José Ruiz Blasco, Picasso's father, or Román Navarro, both professors at the Fine Arts school.
Busy market stalls were set up in the Lugo, Santa Catalina and San Agustín squares, since there was not yet a building designated to house the market. Most of the groceries sold there, especially the fruits and vegetables, came from the nearby district of Oza. The coastal-fishing also came from nearby villages.