Skyscrapers - a bit of history

At the end of the last century, huge, luxurious residential houses were massively built in Europe. What distinguishes them from the ancient ancestors was not so much the external appearance as the advanced structures and modern installations in buildings.

The cradle of residential skyscrapers was ancient Rome. In the city, there were nearly 46 thousand. insuli, or rental houses. In 193 BC the highest Roman building had more than 10 storeys, and around it there were 5 and 6 storey houses. The walls were then erected from shales, stones and concrete masses. The ceilings were wooden and the façades were faced with bricks. The recommended thickness of the external walls - 0.45 m - did not always ensure the stability of the structure, which is why construction disasters often occurred in Rome. Living in such a home was not easy. Luxury apartments, sometimes up to 300 m2, were located on the ground floor or first floor. The higher, the cheaper the apartments were. Often, they were not entering the stairs, but ladders. There was no running water or drains, and clay earthenware served for the toilets. The kitchens lacked chimney ducts. Portable stoves were the only source of heating. Serious fire hazard created using open fire for lighting and preparing meals on small, portable cookers.

Wysoko w Warszawie
Over the centuries, no one - maybe apart from the inhabitants of Arabia, Felix (today's Yemen) - did not try to imitate the Roman sky scrapers. Even in the mid-19th century, tenement houses in cities usually had no more than three floors. At the turn of the 19th and 20th century, Warsaw was one of the ten largest European cities and exceptionally high-rise buildings were built here. The city was densely built-up. Its territorial development was inhibited by the corset of fortifications, so the only solution was to build up. The tallest buildings were 7-8 floors. Technical means allowed to build even higher buildings, but around 1914 it became unprofitable. The pressure in the municipal water supply system allowed water to be supplied only up to a height of about 35 m, which corresponded more or less to the heights of the then eight floors. And because the filter station was located in the south-western part of Warsaw, it was here that the largest, and at the same time luxurious, residential buildings were built. In further districts it was necessary to install equipment for pumping water over 35 m. Modern compressors with appropriate pressure, supplying water to higher floors, became a standard in houses erected near Warecki Square - a new city center located quite far from the filter station. In luxury tenement houses, even the smallest apartments had not only running water and sewage system, but also electrical and gas installations. They were equipped with gas stoves for city gas and thermo for heating water. The apartments, so characteristic of older tenements, disappeared from the apartments. They were replaced by central heating radiators. In the production and installation of c. O. Devices, the outstanding company "Drzewiecki i Jeziorański" was founded in 1893 in Warsaw. It was not limited only to production, but also introduced its own technical solutions. Another specialty of "Drzewiecki and Jeziorański" was the production and development of ventilation systems and water-disposal equipment. The company was by no means a monopolist. In the ultra-luxurious tenement house of Henryk Kołobrzeg-Kolberg in Al. Ujazdowskie, where even the bars of the balconies were covered with flaky gold, the central water heating was installed by another Warsaw company - "Wisła". In turn, in 1913, the model of foreign hotels, in a few new buildings, "spittoon cores" were used, similar to sinks.

Stoves, chutes, washing ...
Central heating furnaces, almost exclusively carbon, were installed in the cellars of buildings. In order to make the fuel deliveries as difficult as possible, often in the tenement house of Wapiński's jeweler at Krakowskie Przedmieście 19 in Warsaw, coal from the carts was loaded into holes placed in the sidewalk, closed by a flap and leading directly to the basement. However, this was not a common solution and often, passing along the street, came across coal heaps. For tall buildings it was also necessary to think about how to dispose of household waste. At the turn of the century, garbage chutes were invented. However, they were placed not on staircases, but in kitchens. It also happened that in public buildings, rooms for garbage containers were located under the pavement level. This was the case, for example, in the Luxenburg Passage erected in 1910 at ul. Senators. In the advertising of one of Warsaw's profitable luxury houses, a section of the house rules was quoted, saying: "It is forbidden to flip furniture, rugs and bedding in the yard and balconies." Every tenant receives an electric vacuum cleaner on request, permanently in a watchman ". Electric vacuum cleaners have become an indispensable element of equipment of contemporary buildings. In house ads, the building was also provided with central vacuum cleaners for various systems. The Boriga system was the most popular here, and its assembly was usually carried out by the Moszkowski brothers. The standard was also the furnishing of houses with laundries, attics for hanging underwear, mags, and apartments in the mirrors, cassettes for valuables and pantries with ice cream being a kind of prototypes of today's refrigerators.

Windy Electric
Probably, it would never be decided to build multi-storey, luxury tenement houses if it had not been for constructing an electric elevator in 1880.
In Warsaw, such elevators began to be installed in the last years of the last century, but they became popular only after the city power plant in Powiśle was started in 1908. Before the entire city was electrified, the residents of Warsaw were fascinated by elegant elevators in the powerful buildings of the Rosya Insurance Company at Marszałkowska and Hotel Bristol. Both buildings were built in 1900 and had their own mini power plants. The hotel had 11 different types of cranes worth 38,000 rubles. However, only one elevator, preserved until today, was used to transport guests. It was referred to as the 'industrial gem'. Crystal, transparent, with white iron frames, with seats for the seat gave the impression of a fairy tale carriage. It was surrounded by an Art Nouveau banister lined with brass. As reported by the press at the time, the elevator moved without shocks at a speed of 110 cm per second and contained 8 people. Personal lifts - as the elevators were called then - were installed only in the main staircases. Such a structure was reluctantly used for cargo elevators, for example for transporting coal for firewood, because - as it was written in 1907 - "an electric hoist is too expensive for us, and manual does not suit the purpose, due to the inadequate power of one man's hands". Before 1914, the house of the architect Antoni Jasieńczyk - Jabłoński at Plac Zbawiciela belonged to the highest Warsaw tenements. Here, "day and night" operated two personal lifts, which were driven not only to the apartments, but also located on the top floor, under a glass roof, a solarium with cabinets for sunbathing and "electric", inhalations and rooms for orthopedic treatments. /> At the time, the Unruch & amp; Liebig, produced by the Warsaw Mechanical Plant Lifts at Konopacka on the license of the Leipzig factory. There were also specialist lifts. In the Fiat salon at ul. Moniuszki 2, a special Otis lift system for cars was installed. In a super luxury tenement house Maurycy Spokorny, director of Warsaw Trams, elevators were installed in two main staircases. Art Nouveau gondolas were in steel mesh pane.

As Andrzej Gwiżdż, the grandson of Spokorze, recalled, the guests entering the tenement house called the doorman. The strangers greeted the invariable "Who do you think?", Then he rode the elevator with them to the apartment. In the elevator, the guest could sit down on a satin sandwich for a few seconds. In new tenements, other solutions were also tried, but they were not widely used. In 1911, the entrepreneur Gawryłow installed a one-man elevator "Aga", mounted directly on the balustrades of the stairs and being, something like today's lifts for the disabled.
Przedstawia: Jerzy S. Majewski (Murator PLUS - 8 '99) Źródło: [url=http://www.wiezowce.prv.pl/]http://www.wiezowce.prv.pl[/url]
30/07/2005     Wojciech Andruszkiewicz
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