Based on Charles Tilly’s theories on popular contentions, this paper provides an analysis on different kinds of urban spaces as arenas for violent crowds. In riots and open conflicts, otherwise hidden structures – for example structures of power, class struggle and gender structures – come up to surface, and will thus be available for historical investigations. By applying linkages between the contentious gatherings and the specific locations within the city, theses structures, connected to different kind of urban spaces, will be revealed. The subject of the paper is pre-industrial Stockholm, c. 1700–1850. Eight popular riots, including crowds of several hundreds of participants, and a large number of everyday street fights are analysed. The paper focuses on different kinds of urban spaces like the poor quarters, the political quarters, narrow alleys and spacious squares. The diversity of urban spaces put different demands on both the crowds and the local authorities.