A new web side elaborates the contribution of Jews and Jewish architects to the physical development of Budapest as a metropolis.
A project of the OVAS! NGO, which focuses on the built heritage (and preserving that heritage) in Budapest’s downtown Jewish quarters, the new site, called „Who lived, who built here?” includes an interactive map that pinpoints scores of buildings, mainly in the downtown districts, including the 6th and 7th districts.
Part of the aim is to highlight “invisible” Jewish heritage, from small synagogues to apartment blocks and commercial buildings. It also provides biographical information — and pictures — on dozens of achitects.
In the 6th and 7th district neighborhoods known Erzsebetvaros (Elisabethstadt) and Terezvaros (Theresienstadt), the web site states:
about half of the buildings – although in some places even more – that form the cityscape were built by Jewish contractors, planned by Jewish architects. This ratio is even higher if we leave out the government buildings, the churches, empty grounds and the buildings that were built after 1945. The situation is similar in Leopoldstadt (Litovaros). In Neu-Leopoldstadt (Uj Lipotvaros) this ratio may reach even 80-90 percent. These are the quarters where Jewish presence was the most important before World War II.
This sort of Jewish contribution is unknown and invisible for the most part. Mostly those significant synagogues and those Jewish institutions are known, which could escape the post-war nationalization and, as such, could maintain their original function. Passers-by do not know anything about the past of the apartment buildings that determine the character of the streets and roads, nor of former Jewish institutions, former Jewish association headquarters, or of the smaller synagogues. Their history is preserved solely in the memories of the residents.
The web site can be used in several ways — though unfortunately, it is still mostly in Hungarian.
1. On the basis of the map. If you look for a building according to its situation on the map, closing up on the address selected, the icon of the building with the acronym of the address appears (for example, Ki35 meaning 35 Király Street), clicking on which you get to the data sheet of the given building. On the data sheet the names of persons of Jewish origin are highlighted in blue. Clicking on those you get further information, clicking on the photos you see them in full size.
2. On the basis of the data uploaded. In this case you choose the type of data in which you are interested in the upper menu, that is,buildings (ÉPÜLET), architects (ÉPITÉSZ), entrepreneurs (ÉPITTETŐ), renowned people who lived in the buildings (JELENTŐS SZEMÉLYISÉG). By clicking on the title, you get the relevant data in alphabetical order.
3. On the basis of the timeline (IDŐVONAL in the upper right corner) – if you click here you get the time of building for each house, from where you get to the data sheet of the given building.
Under the heading “Writings” (ÍRÁSOK) one finds a list of the sources used for the website (FORRÁSOK), a general introduction to the website and the studies from which the material of the website is partly derived. These will be updated continuously.