This rare map of Zagreb, made by the Urban Planning Office of the city in 1923, shows the lines of the current cities and the planned new buildings, suburbs, streets and public buildings, marked with red lines. The map was annotated in 1928 by the city engineers with colour pencils, which show newly planned nine bus lines, which would connect suburbs, and eventually newly constructed areas, with the centre of the city. The first bus line in Zagreb, was opened on August 11, 1927.
The map was made in the time of Vjekoslav Heinzel (1871 – 1934), an arcitect and the Mayor of Zagreb from 1920 to 1928, best remembered for great development projects of the 1920s that significantly expanded the city. Heinzel’s office administration organized the construction of large sections of Zegreb, which are today landmarks of the city, such as Maksimir, the Dolac Market, the Vjekoslav Heinzel Avenue, Peščenica, Trnje, and Trešnjevka. They also built many hospitals and other public buildings.
Zagreb in 1920s and 1930s
The map captures the entire city during what was its historical apology, during the 1920s and ‘30’s, following three generation of transformative change. The ovoid outlines of the medieval city are still clearly visible on Sheets 4 & 7. Until the middle of the 19th Century, Zagreb was largely confined to this small area, being nothing more than a regional centre with population of barely 17,000 (in 1851). However, beginning in the 1850s, spurred by the Croatian National Revival, Zagreb grew steadily in population and wealth, expanding beyond the old town. The railway arrived in 1862, the gasworks were established in 1863 and a modern water system was created from 1878. This spurred industrial growth, and the formation of the new working-class and industrial districts to the west and south of the old city. It also saw improvements to the large plazas extending out of the old city, as well as the construction of grand public edifices, in the Austro-Hungarian style. Indeed, Zagreb acquired monumental architecture, arranged along massive open spaces, akin to Vienna and Budapest. Most notably, the era also saw the re-development of Ban Jelačić Square, to this day, the heart of Zagreb.
While World War I was the death of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it saw the birth of Yugoslavia, making Zagreb the second city of new, large Slavic county. The 1920s and ‘30s saw unprecedented growth, as the city’s population increased from 109,000, in 1921, to 186,000, in 1931, a jump of 64%! This saw the expansion of the city eastwards into the new bourgeoisie neighbourhoods around in the vicinity of the future Meštrović Pavilion (itself constructed 1934-8), featuring magnificent examples of Art Deco and Bauhaus architecture. It also saw the creation of the affluent suburbs rising up the slopes of the Medvednica Mountain, to the north of the old town.
While Zagreb’s social fabric and economy suffered terribly under the rule of the Fascist Ustaše regime during World War II, the city was largely spared of physical damage. A profound sense of civic pride amongst the city’s residents allowed most of the Zagreb’s pre-WWII historical architecture to be preserved during both the Yugoslav Socialist era and the period since Croatia’s independence in 1991. Mercifully, unlike the situation in many other cities, tasteless and monstrous modern developers have been relegates to the city’s outskirts, largely preserving the Zagreb that is here showcased to the present day.