‘We became the citizens of a great city’. The space changes that took place in the center of Wrocław in the second part of the 19th century

Agnieszka Zabłocka-Kos
Original title: “Staliśmy się obywatelami wielkiego miasta”. Przemiany przestrzenne centrum Wrocławia po połowie XIX w.
Śląski Kwartalnik Historyczny Sobótka 2010
Abstract

In the 1860s fundamental decisions were taken about the area of the Old Town which prepared the ground for functions typical for a city center. In the same time sub-urban communities became the part of the city, and contributed to create a great urban organism connected by the modern infrastructure (streets and bridges, sewer and sanitation, bus and tram service). These decisions are still the ground for spatial and functional development of Wrocław. The author concentrated on some construction investments at the city, crucial for its developing:

1. Modernization of the North-South axis (Świdnicka-Kuźnicza streets) which became the main communication and commerce route dominating in the traditional medieval East-West axis (Oławska-Ruska streets) ,

2. Gaining of new construction areas by clearance of functions inconvenient for city (assailing of the intern moat and modernization of the external moat, disposal of the hospitals, garrisons, stables and cemeteries at former glacis),

3. Beautifying of the Old Town area (Pannier Bastion was changed into Liebichshöhe, today Partisans’ Hill).

A complex of luxurious houses and a hotel were built in the place of the former city stables in Świdnicka street. One of the most well-to-do merchant families – the Sachses – built en elegant rent house opposite to the City Theatre, where the Holy Trinity Hospital was situated before. These investments were the starting point for future modernization of the whole street. They show how, gradually, new areas of the urban space were ‘appropriated’ by the richest classes that competed with the municipal administration.

The Pannier Bastion was specially exposed within the urban space. The idea of the local artist Carl Weitz in 1865 was to built the Acropolis of Science, Arts and Craft on the top of the Bastion, a huge quadratic building housing all artistic institutions, a school, museums and even a concert hall included. It was not carried out, because thanks to the initiative and funds of the beet-sugar factory owner Adolph Liebich a beautiful Belvedere with columns was created. New monuments in patriotic style (Nike, Germania and Wilhelm I) accompanied architectonic changes and were a symbolic completing of the artistic contribution at the Old Town.

 

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