The early 19th century was marked by the presence of various negative factors that seriously affected the lives of Málaga's residents. One was the aftermath of the war against Britain, which negatively affected trade, and another was the deadly epidemic of yellow fever during 1803-1804. Finally, as a disastrous climax, came the War of Independence.
The reign of Ferdinand VII (1814-1833) was a period of economic stagnation and political instability. The impact of the independence of the South American colonies was added to the aftermath of the war against the French. Political struggles between liberals and absolutists consumed much energy that might have been invested in recovery.
In the last days of his reign, Málaga was the scene of one of the cruellest episodes of absolutist repression: the execution of General Torrijos and his fellow men. Ferdinand VII did not bring the peace and harmony expected of him. Today, in the Plaza de la Merced we can see an obelisk, which is the monument dedicated to Torrijos.
During the second third of the century, Málaga enjoyed an economic recovery placing the city among Spain's leading manufacturers. Such is the case of Manuel Agustin Heredia's forges, that became one of the first leaders of`` iron producers. The Larios family also contributed with strong growth in the textile industry. Other leading families in Málaga at that time were: Loring, Huelin, Crooke and Groos, among others.
The proliferation of factories gave rise to an industrial and working-class city on the right bank of the river Guadalmedina` that was separated from the bourgeois, residential areas in the central and eastern districts.
Málaga was instrumental in the triumph of liberalism in Spain. During the years following the death of Ferdinand VII, the city started, or supported, insurrection movements aimed at preventing political regression or avoiding any form of despotism. In 1843, this attitude earned the city the reputation of "always intrepid" and the motto "The first to challenge a threat to freedom."
After the military coup of 1868, which destroyed the reign of Isabella II (1830 – 1904), there followed a radical period when the lower classes adopted rebellious attitudes.
In the 1870s, prosperity declined when the steel industry, commerce and agriculture all failed, the latter much affected by the severe phylloxera epidemic. This is when the tourism industry of Málaga began to take shape, which was an attempt to take advantage of Málaga's favourable climate and location.
In 1897, the Sociedad Propagandística del Clima y Embellecimiento de Málaga (Society for the Promotion of the Climate and Beauty of Málaga) was created.