277 - Eliščina Street runs between the end of Klimentská Street and the Franz Josef I Bridge
This street, which lies along the route of the former moat surrounding the old town ramparts, consisted originally of ugly low-rise buildings. This image persisted until the 1860s and 1870s. Following the construction of the bridge, practically all the original buildings were replaced by four-storey buildings with Neo-Renaissance facades. While the right side of the street has remained extant, with slight modifications, till today, the end of the 1920s saw gradual demolitions on the left side of the street and the construction of new residental and administrative buildings. The simultaneous removal of the street line substantially broadened the road.
278 - The end of Eliščina Street, leading to the Franz Josef I Chain Bridge
On the right we can see the residential building No. 1503 and the Eliščiny Baths, No. 1248. These two structures replaced an old factory built here in 1869 by J. Ehlen and J. Kandert in English Neo-Gothic style which corresponded so well with architecture of the bridge. Most flats in Prague at the turn of the century were still without bathrooms and, in older quarters, even without water. People used to wash in the kitchen, and water brought from outside was heated in kitchen pots. In order to avoid this domestic discomfort, many Prague citizens used to frequent the affordable public baths where they had a choice between steam, shower or bathtub. The planned construction of a new bridge led, in 1940, to the demolition of the public baths as well as of the neighbouring structure, and the bridgehead attained its final form. On the left we can still see the bank gently sloping towards the river. This situation was changed only in 1908 with the completion of the construction of the embankment between Na Františku and the Bridge.
PHOTOTYPE. K. BELLMANN, 1907
279 - The Franz Josef I Chain Bridge with a view of the Letná Quarter
The bridge connected the old and new town with Holešovice Quarter. It was built in the years 1865-1868 as Prague’s second chain bridge, to a design by the British architects Ordish and Le-Feuvre, with the cooperation of M. am Ende. The actual construction of the bridge was carried out by the firms Ruston and Co. and Ing. F. Schön, from iron imported from Sheffield. Even though the bridge impressed the public with its beauty, it lacked the desirable stability, and it therefore underwent two reconstructions. The first of these took place in 1888, the other prior to 1898. However, even between the reconstructions, the traffic on the bridge had to be limited and occasionally even stopped. In view of the ongoing problems, and in order to meet the challenge of the expected throngs of visitors trying to get to the other side of the river to see the Jubilee exhibition, a makeshift wooden bridge was built here in 1891 connecting the little square Na Františku with the Quarter of Letná (see picture 142). In the foreground we can see the houses of the collectors of the bridge toll and of the cashiers, with special signs on the roofs which changed their position after the passage of each new 100 pedestrians, i.e. after the collection of each new 100 kreutzers. This bridge was demolished in 1947, to be replaced in 1951 by a ferroconcrete one.
COMBINED COLOURED PRINT. UNIE PRAGUE, AROUND 1905
280 - The Institute of Noblewomen at the intersection of Eliščina Street and Josefské (Josef) Square
This bulky building, no. 655, with a garden, also known as Norbertinum, was constructed in the years 1637-1640, and was used from 1787 as the new seat of the Institute of Noblewomen, which had previously been housed in U Nemocnice Street (see picture 393). The building of the Institute of Noblewomen and two other buildings standing behind it, were demolished in 1928, thus giving rise to a new, extended street line. It was on the corner of this new street that architect J. Žák built the new Functionalist Kotva Building. In front of it we can see a stand for horse-drawn carriages and fiacres. The area behind the wall of the now defunct Královodvorské Barracks just off the picture on the left was used in 1975 for the construction of Kotva department store. On the right, at the intersection with Truhlářská Street, we can see No. 1080, housing Merkur Café, later renamed U Pečenků. The structure was rebuilt (probably in the 1920s), and one storey with an attic roof was added. On the extreme right we can see a part of Josef barracks.
PHOTOTYPE. H. SEIBT, MEISSEN, AROUND 1900
281 - A view from Josefské Square
A view from Josefské Square of the complex of structures built on the location of the former Královodvorské Barracks with the Military Academy. The building of the general representation of the Austrian Allianz Insurance Company (on the right) was constructed in the years 1903-1904 by the Viennese architect J. Stiegler. The neighbouring Chamber of Commerce, built in the same period by A. Turk, was an association of eight regional chambers of businessmen, entrepreneurs and craftsmen in the Kingdom of Bohemia. These chambers, founded in 1850, were advisory institutions lobbying the legislature and the executive, and profferring their proposals for the advancement of trade and industry. They had registered members and they appointed members of the Commercial Court. In the background we can see the completion works on the Paříž (Paris) Hotel, while work was just beginning on the construction of the municipal building (see picture 121) just off the picture on the left.
COLOURED PHOTOTYPE. 1905
282 - A view of the north-eastern part of Josefské Square from the wall of the Military Academy
From 1875 it was a part of the first route of the horse-drawn tram connecting Karlín Quarter with the Emperor Franz Chain Bridge. The Square is also connected with the 1898 electrification of the first section of the tram network, linking Josefské Square with Královská Obora (a part of the longer route connecting Královská Obora with the Královské Vinohrady Quarter). In the same year 1898, prior to the electrification of yet another section of the route between Josefské Square and Na Můstku, the passengers had to change from an electric tram to a horse-drawn one.
PHOTOTYPE. L. J. ČECH, 1898
283 - A view of the north-eastern side of Josefské Square with a glimpse of Poříčská Street
The tram standing in front of the waiting room operated on the already fully electrified route Královská Obora - Královské Vinohrady. In the background, on the corner of Truhlářská Street, we can see Josef Barracks of 1860, Nos. 1078 and 1079, built on the site of the former Capuchin Monastery in the English Neo-Gothic style. This was, in 1834, the temporary workplace of the classic Czech playwright J. K. Tyl who was employed here by the military as a quartermaster and who fought the boredom of the job by composing here, among other things, the future Czech national anthem Kde domov můj? (Where Is My Home?). The neighbouring building on the right is the monastery Church of St Joseph, a simple structure in the Capuchin style built in the first half of the 17th century by M. Mayer. From the beginning of the 19th century to 1833 it was used by the military. In the same year the Capuchin order received compensation for the dissolution of the monastery in the form of the two-storey corner building No. 1077.
COLOURED PHOTOTYPE. K. BELLMANN, 1900
284 - A view from Na Příkopě Street of the southern part of Josefské Square
On the left we can see the recently constructed municipal building. On the right we can see the bulky front of the building U Hybernů and the adjacent building complex No. 1037, then serving as the customs’ office. The original building on this site was a monastery with St Ambrose’s Church, founded in 1355 by Charles IV for Benedictines of the Milan liturgy. The monastery complex included a large garden covering the whole territory of the future block of buildings ranging as far as Jezdecká Street (today called Havlíčkova). The lots on which we can see the pictured buildings had a succession of owners and served many different purposes. The name U Hybernů, i.e. The Hibernians, was derived from the name of the Irish Franciscans who, after being exiled from Britain, came in 1630 to Prague where emperor Ferdinand II granted them this area and permitted them to build their monastery and church here. Generously sponsored by their friends, the Hibernians (Hyberňáci, as the Prague populace dubbed them) completed their building efforts here in the period 1637-1739, and devoted themselves to teaching school-children, educating missionaries and, last but not least, to growing potatoes, until then unknown in Bohemia. After the closure of the monastery in 1786, the monks returned to Ireland. In the 19th century the building complex was used by the tax office which had the complex remodelled in Neo-Classical style in 1808-1811 to be used as a customs’ office and tax office.
285 - A soda kiosk selling soda and other refreshments
In Poříčská Street close to the intersection with Josefské Square, situated on the side wall of No. 1035 (see picture 513). The kiosk was owned by C. Widtman and its large size and unusual architecture made it appear very different from the standard octagonal refreshment stalls strewn over the main streets and squares of Prague from the 1870s. At the stall we can see a gathering of drinking patrons dominated by the corpulent Prague humorist, cabaret actor, publisher and bookseller J. Šváb Malostranský (1860-1932). Originally a baker’s apprentice, he had a predilection for rather different professions. He was first apprenticed as a bookseller, then, in 1888, he opened a small stationery shop in Mostecká Street, and a publishing house specializing in popular songs, music-hall ditties and postcards (see picture 63. Selected postcards published by him won the Grand Prix at the Paris World Exposition in 1900. As a popular singer and actor he became a representative of the Czech folk humour of the time. Together with his colleagues Innemann, Wanderer, Oberst and others he acted in cabarets both in Prague and in other cities of the Czech Kingdom. In 1898 he became the first Czech film actor in three short films shot at the Exhibition of Architecture and Engineering by the pioneer of Czech cinema J. Kříženecký. Later Šváb Malostranský acted in innumerable Czech silent films and even in four sound films.
PHOTOGRAPHIC POSTCARD. PICTURE AROUND 1908.Z. REACH, 1920s
Josef Šváb - Malostranský
Josef Šváb - Malostranský ( *16.3.1860 † 30.10.1932), Chiefly known as a highly popular comic actor, Svab-Malostransky was a man of many talents whose film career unusually lasted from the pionneering days of 1898 to 1932. First working in a Prague bookshop after leaving school, he then set up his own business publishing postcards and songs. He also developed a career as a café performer and in June 1898 he starred in three comic shorts made by the first Czech filmmaker Jan Krizenecky: Dostavencicko Ve Mlynici (Appointment at the Mill), Plac a Smich (Tears and Laughter) and Vystavni Parkar a Lepic Plakatu (The Billsticker and the Sausage Vendor). Sustaining a career on both stage and film that included work with Antonin Pech, founder of the first Czech film company Kinofa (1908), he went on to become actor manager of Prague's Svanda Theatre in 1915, while continuing his publishing career. As well as acting, he wrote film scenarios and on occasion directed, combining all three talents in such films as The Five Senses of Man (1912) and Live Corpses (1921).
313 - A view of the Zlatý klobouček (The Golden Hat) Building
New No. 771, as seen from Můstek, on the corner of the narrow lane dubbed Myší díra (The Mouse Hole) and Ovocná Street (on the right). On the site of the Mouse Hole was once the entrance to the cemetery connected with the Church of the Virgin Mary of the Snows. Soon after founding of the New Town, the whole area between Ovocná Street and Jungmannovo Square was used for the construction of 15 buildings adjacent to the cemetery wall. The depth of the lots was approximately 8 metres away from the moat, which was running through what was to become Ovocná Street. In 1418 a part of the cemetery premises was purchased for construction purposes, and the depth of the built-up area was thus extended to about 24 metres, a state unchanged till today. The commercial and residential structure in the picture, built in the 1890s, was occupied by the luxurious goldsmith’s owned by M. Kersch. The site on which stood building No. 772 (on the left), demolished in the 1960s, is still empty, and is used as an entrance to the metro.
PHOTOGRAVURE. K. FISCHL, 1899
314 - A view of the corner of Václavské Square and Ovocná Street from U Špinků Building
The building No. 772 on the left, housed the Kaiser Café on the second storey which moved here in 1900 from Ovocná Street, and J. E. Šátek’s stationery shop on the ground floor. Šátek was a specialised seller of postcards. On the right we can see the U zlatého úlu Building (The Golden Beehive), and the monumental building of the Prague Credit Bank, new No. 377, built in 1902, probably by O. Polívka with the assistance of the sculptor C. Klouček. The building beyond, U tří bílých beránků (The Three White Lambs), new No. 376, built in 1892, is one of the most important pre-Art Nouveau buildings by F. Ohmann. Its unconventional elements include the use of metal decoration under the ledge, the verandah on the fifth storey, and the large glassed-in commercial premises on the ground floor, and on the second storey. The building complex, which also includes the adjacent building (new No. 375) built in 1894-1895 by E. Sochor for the Bernsdorf Metal Goods Factory, houses today the Old Town supermarket with a passage to Rytířská Street.
COLOURED PHOTOTYPE. F. J. JEDLIČKA, AROUND 1905
315 - Ovocná Street as seen from Ferdinandova Street with a glimpse of Na Příkopě Street
The buildings in the north-western section of Ovocná Street stand on the site of the former walled moat and of the Old Town fortification. Still in 1835 one could see here nothing but a row of low-rise structures. The only higher building was U zlatého úlu (The Golden Beehive) on the corner of Na Můstku Street. The development of this side of the street in the 19th century occurred in several stages and was completed in 1902 by the building of the Prague Credit Bank. Apart from the two structures on the left, all the other buildings on this side of the street are still extant. The first building, No. 371, standing on the corner of Perlová Street and owned by the ironmonger Reach, and the second building with glassed-in balconies, No. 953, were demolished in the late 1920s and replaced by one of the first modern department stores in Prague, Ara, later renamed Perla, and today the headquarters of the Investment and Post Bank.
COLOURED PHOTOTYPE. AROUND 1904
316 - The old Mottlův dům (Mottl’s House), No. 761, in Ferdinandova Street with a glimpse of Ovocná and Na Příkopě Streets
There are two stretches of vacant lots in the left row - in three years the first shall be filled with the building of the Prague Credit Bank, and the other one shall, in two years, become the site of Löbl’s department store. The greater part of the picture shows the front of a baroque building originally called U zlatého věnce (The Golden Wreath), built on the site of three mediaeval houses. Around 1900 it was owned by the wealthy tailor V. Mottl, an official supplier to the Imperial Royal Court, as is proudly proclaimed in the large gilded plate advertisement with the double-headed eagle on the corner. The building housed a number of yet more exclusive firms, such as the hatter A. Srb, likewise an official imperial and royal supplier. The corner of the structure was occupied by the Central Shop of Postcards and Albums where one could buy postcards of all kinds from all over the world. After all, it was advertised as a world class shop.
COLOURED PHOTOTYPE. AROUND 1899
317 - The new Mottlův dům (Mottl’s House) taken from roughly the same angle as the previous picture
It was built in the years 1906-1907 to the design of the architect K. Mottl. The palace-like Art Nouveau building served as the headquarters of the Central Bank of the Czech Savings Banks, and of the Czech Graphic Union. The Bohemian Kingdom then had 100 savings banks and 780 small loan and savings banks with the total sum of 800 million guldens on their accounts. The Czech Graphic Union was a large Czech publishing house specialising in stationery, including postcards. It owned several printing houses, of which the most modern and later substantially extended, stood in Svobodova Street near the Vyšehrad Railway Station. From 1900 this publishers’ union comprised four publishing firms: J. Otto, J. Vilímek, F. Šimáček and J. Vilím. From this time it marked some of its products (including postcards) with the brand name Unie-Vilím.
PHOTOTYPE. UNIE PRAGUE, AROUND 1908
318 - The Art Nouveau interior of the Central Bank of the Czech Savings Banks
A view of the cashier’s counter showing the curious ratio of six employees per one customer. The annual interest at that time ranged between 4 and 4.75 per cent. Considering the fact that there was virtually no inflation at all at this time, one could make a truly decent profit from the deposited capital. However, this had not been the case prior to 1892 as the Austro-Hungarian currency was until then based on silver, whose price constantly fluctuated. However, in 1892 the decision was made to replace the existing currency unit, the silver gulden, with the golden gulden, with an exchange rate of 1 kilogram of gold per 1640 golden guldens. The coin unit of this new gold-oriented currency was the crown, with 1 golden gulden consisting of 2 crowns. The coins of the old currency were in circulation until January 1, 1898. In that year they were replaced for good by the new crown currency.
PHOTOTYPE. PHOTOGRAPHER J. MICHALUP. AROUND 1906
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