Introduction This chapter retraces part of the history of the transformation of the ‘soundscape of 19th century towns’.1 It shows, on the basis of the study of the urban fabric of Lyon, France, that developments made in the middle of the century changed the conditions under which sounds were produced and propagated: urban ‘repairs’, the widening of thoroughfares and the removal of overhangs, corbelled constructions and awnings, led slowly but surely to changes in what was heard, to average intensities, lower frequencies and continuous noises that gradually put an end to high-intensity noises or silence and high-pitched, intermittent, human sounds.2