Cars everywhere - this characterised Budapest 50 years ago. Parking was thought to be part of the modern city. In Budapest, there were more and more cars, but the number of parking spaces did not increase fast enough, and a parking garage for 350 vehicles in the very centre of the inner city wanted to help with this.
Perhaps the best-known Hungarian historical date is 15 March 1848. But what was the city of Pest and Buda like 175 years ago, where a few literary young men recited poems and printed a manifesto in a heightened mood, accompanied by a relatively large but peaceful crowd on that rainy March day, thus setting a new direction for the development of Hungary?
185 years ago, between 13 and 18 March 1838, the Danube flood, which is considered to be the largest in the history of the settlements in the area of today's Budapest, which had an independent public administration at the time, devastated the area. The natural disaster also called the ice flood, caused the most serious damage in Pest, which was at the dawn of development during the Reform Era. While in the other settlements, life returned to the previous state after the flood receded, in Pest, after the destruction, using more durable materials, it was possible to rebuild the city on a new scale.
The plan to build road tunnels under the Danube instead of bridges was seriously considered in Budapest already 130 years ago. Proponents argued that tunnels were cheaper, more sustainable and less militarily vulnerable. This idea was on the agenda for years, but the tunnels were not built in the end.
Should the Árpád or the Petőfi Bridge be built first? This was the dilemma that preoccupied the rebuilders of the bridges in Budapest in 1948. The question was not new, the same decision had to be made once 20 years earlier. At that time, the bridge at Boráros Square "won", but after the destruction of World War II, the question was again whether to continue the work with the blown-up bridge at Boráros Square or the half-finished Árpád Bridge.
Eszter Pécsi, the first Hungarian female engineer, received her statics degree at Royal Joseph Polytechnic University on her 22nd birthday, making her the first female graduate engineer in the country. She notes the plans for the statics of the Alfréd Hajós Swimming Pool, but after 1945 she also took part in the revision of the capital's damaged buildings, as well as in the reinforcement work of the cracked roof of the National Theatre. She was responsible for the construction of several villas in the capital, such as the recently renovated Rózsi Walter Villa, which was designed by her husband, József Fischer. In Pestbuda's article, we remember the first Hungarian female engineer.
From the 1870s, huge construction works were carried out in Budapest, which was developing into a metropolis. Of course, the Hungarian capital, as the country's economic, commercial and industrial centre not only grew at an ever-accelerating rate in terms of its residential and public buildings, but its industrial sites also multiplied, and their sizes occupied an ever-larger area. An important logistics centre was established close to the southern connecting railway bridge.
In the first half of the 20th century, Hungarian architectural public life was punctuated by many debates: at first, the Hungarian design language was at the centre, then from the second half of the 1920s, modern architecture. Virgil Borbíró took on a fighting role in the latter and fought determinedly for the new trend to gain ground. The engineer, who was born exactly one hundred and thirty years ago, left his mark on Hungarian cultural history not only with his buildings but also with his writings and organisational work.
The Outer Ring Road in Budapest was built over a long period of time in several waves. One of the important turning points in the history of the construction of the road occurred in 1888 when the section from Margit Bridge to Üllői Road became completely open.
Regular public radio broadcasts started in Hungary at the end of 1925, but it was possible to listen to the radio in Hungarian in the country more than two years before public broadcasts began because experimental broadcasts started in March 1923.
Frigyes Spiegel wrote himself into the history of Hungarian architecture with his fantastic facades: his Art Nouveau buildings are the earliest appearances of the new style in the country. His genius naturally followed the changes of the times, and between the two world wars, he also left his mark on Art Deco - even if only to the extent of a single building. However, the historical circumstances also increase the value of this work of his, which also belongs to the elite in its category.
Thirty years ago, the Synod of the Reformed Church, at its meeting on 24 February 1993, decided to found the Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church on the foundations of the Pest Reformed Theological Academy. The choice of name caused some controversy, but his work, the first complete Hungarian Bible translation, was in favour of Gáspár Károli, as it serves as the basis of universal Hungarian culture. University education started at 28 Ráday Street, the former seat of the theological academy, but due to the growing number of students, new locations had to be found. Nowadays, the students of the reformed university can study in such patinated buildings as the Károlyi-Csekonics Palace on Reviczky Street or the former Municipal School for Girls on Aréna Street.
The Laboratory Equipment Factory, completed in January 1963 at the corner of Tűzoltó Street and Thaly Kálmán Street, defined the streetscape of the neighbourhood for decades. Even when hundreds of workers worked in the building with a huge floor area, and even when it stood empty after 1990 and its condition deteriorated year by year. Nowadays, a modern dormitory, mainly inhabited by foreign university students, operates behind the walls, the new function also meant the rebirth of the building.
Kálmán Rózsahegyi was one of the greatest actors of the first half of the last century, in addition to his stage presence, he also played in many cult films. For his fiftieth birthday, his fans wanted to surprise him with a family house, for which they started a fundraiser. The plans were drawn up by Jenő Lechner a hundred years ago, in 1923, and he created a sumptuous luxury villa with his brilliant idea and great sense of style. Three years later, the actor was able to occupy his new home after returning home from the United States of America.
The capital, which is 150 years old this year, has changed so much over time that every day citizens can marvel at a section of a street, an old building that has disappeared or that has miraculously survived. This time, with the help of five pairs of images, Pestbuda presents the passage of time from the houses of the old inner city of Pest to the flood in Tabán.
A fantastic church is hidden among lavish villas, just a few hundred metres from the tram terminus in Hűvösvölgy. Its modern forms suggest that it was built in the 20th century, but visitors might not even imagine how long the work took - competing with medieval cathedrals, it was completed in several decades. However, the result was equally brilliant, the Gothic and modernism are perfectly combined in it. The idea of building the church in Remetekertváros was born ninety years ago, in 1933.
When, thanks to Tivadar Puskás's invention, the Telephone Herald began operating in Budapest on 14 February 1893, radio broadcasting was still an unknown concept. The service, which delivered news read into a microphone via the telephone network, attracted the interest of the general public, which is not surprising. During these years, the Hungarian capital was under enormous development: palace-like public buildings and residential houses were completed one after the other, trams were already running on the roads, and the organisation of the millennium celebrations was in full swing, meaning that the new invention arrived in an optimistic era.
In a voice of unclouded happiness, Imre Madách told his brother about the ball at which he danced with the love of his youth, Menyhért Lónyay's sister, Etelka Lónyay, but the unrequited love did not turn into a proposal. Petőfi had the courage to ask the daughter of a rich banker for her hand in marriage, but she offered it to Menyhért Lónyay. In connection with this year's Madách and Petőfi anniversaries, Pestbuda recalls the loves of youth, offering a glimpse into the world of reform-era balls.
We can confidently say that Miklós Barabás was one of the most outstanding artists of the Reform era, the first painter who earned the respect of society with his artistic work. During his long career, he made portraits of many important and well-known personalities, including Mihály Vörösmarty, János Arany, Ferenc Deák, Palatine Joseph, and even Franz Joseph. The capital also often provided the subject of his pictures. He achieved great success with his paintings, and the press regularly reported on his current works. It was thanks to his exceptional talent that he managed to gain fame at a time when the work of painters was not yet highly valued.
The Chain Bridge was closed 50 years ago as well, as after its reconstruction in 1949, it needed to be renovated again. The works were timed for the 100th anniversary of the unification of Pest, Buda and Óbuda. The old painting had to be removed from a surface of 73,000 square metres, but at that time the 1949 coat of arms was also replaced with the version current in 1973.
Architect József Fischer was one of the important creators of the large-scale residential house constructions that began at the beginning of the 20th century. His buildings still define the image of Lágymányos. If people walk from the direction of Szent Gellért Square on Bartók Béla Road towards Móricz Zsigmond Square, or walk over to Budafoki Road, from here they turn into Zenta Street, they can see several residential houses that he listed. He designed around 25 houses in the capital, most of which are still standing today. Pestbuda now commemorates József Fischer, who was born 150 years ago.
Where cars turn down today from the Erzsébet Bridge to the Pest embankment, before World War II, there stood a huge and beautiful building: the Class Lottery Palace. It was built at the turn of the century in the Neo-Baroque style, but Art Nouveau also left its mark on it. However, its interior was remodelled several times, most significantly for Vilma Medgyaszay's theatre. Jenő Lechner made its classicist plans in February 1918, exactly 105 years ago.
For a long time, the carburettor was an essential part of car engines. Its creators, János Csonka and Donát Bánki applied for a patent for this device on 11 February 1893. According to legend, the two friends got the idea while watching a flower seller on the Inner Ring Road.
The former Fórum cinema in Budapest played a key role in the spread of the sound film, which on 9 February 1928 presented a work in which people could hear the aeroplane buzzing, the goose cackling and the cows mooing.
The world considers him mostly a mathematician, but János Neumann was a great polymath of the 20th century. His achievements affect several scientific fields. He left Budapest when he was young, but his entire childhood was tied here: his excellent education and the years he spent in one of the best Hungarian secondary schools helped develop his brilliant mind. On 8 February, the 66th anniversary of his death, on the occasion of the Neumann Memorial Year announced for 2023, Pestbuda toured the main stations and locations of his life in the capital to recall his mind and personality.
Ernő Schannen is a little-known member of the architectural community at the turn of the century. However, his work significantly contributed to the development of Budapest's cityscape, he developed a unique style, in Pest and Buda we can find residential houses designed by him in many places, but he also created a hospital and a bank building, and also castles in the countryside.
The desire to save money forced the merger of the Pest and Buda horse-drawn railway companies because horse-drawn railway traffic was only allowed on Margit Bridge if the companies paid the additional cost of the wider bridge. Since the two companies could not agree on the use of the bridge, 145 years ago the larger, richer company bought the smaller one instead. This made it possible for horse-drawn railway transport to start between Pest and Buda a year later, in 1879.
Ernő Foerk is not one of Hungary's famous architects, but almost everyone knows his main work, the Votive Church of Szeged. A building very similar to it can also be found in Budapest, namely in Tripolisz of the 13th District, which was one of the capital's scariest neighbourhoods. The St. Michael's Parish Church, consecrated in 1930, brought light to the part of town with a dubious reputation.
The area of Budapest has changed several times in the last 150 years. The unification of 1950, the creation of today's Budapest, did not come out of nowhere, at that time there had already been talking about developing Budapest and its surroundings for decades, and harmonising the ideas.
Hungary is considered a great power in water sports, which was already foreshadowed by the glory of our first Olympic champion: Alfréd Hajós won Hungary's first gold in swimming. At the Athens competition, he was only eighteen years old, so he had to choose a career after his victory, and the swimmer nicknamed the Hungarian Dolphin became an architect. In the first half of the 20th century, Alfréd Hajós, who was born 145 years ago, achieved good results in this field as well, his works were of the high standard of the era.
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