This article retraces Lisbon's urban evolution, both planned and spontaneous, from the beginning of the Age of Discovery until the first decades of the 19th century. It highlights the 1755 earthquake as a powerful agent of transformation of Lisbon, both of the city's image and architecture and of street life. The article begins by summing up urban policies and urban planning from Manuel I's reign (1495-1521) to João V's (1707-1750); it goes on to depict Lisbon's daily life during the Ancien Regime, focusing on the uses of public and private spaces by common people. The Pombaline plans for the rebuilding of Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake are reappraised, stressing the radically original morphology and functions of the new streets and housing types. The contrast between pre- and post-1755 Lisbon's public spaces is sharp, in both their design and use, and gradually streetscape became increasely regulated in accordance with emergent bourgeois social and urban values. More than a century later, the city's late 19th- and early 20th-century urban development still bore the mark of Pombaline plans, made just after 1755, for the revived Portuguese capital.