Showing posts from April, 2013

Police Boxes in Edinburgh

British police boxes (telephone kiosks or callboxes used by the police or by the public to contact the police) first appeared in Glasgow in the 1891.

Edinburgh's rectangular boxes were designed c. 1937 by an architect inspired by the city's neoclassical architecture. At their peak, 86 police boxes were in the city.

With the introduction of personal radios, police boxes were phased out in the 1970s, thus few of them remain in Britain today.

A few in Edinburgh have remained untouched, but others have been converted into coffee stands or flower shops.

Edinburgh's Ghost Signs

I expected to find more ghost signs in Scotland, but nevertheless I found some interesting ones in Edinburgh. I'm not sure about the dates of these – unlike in Ukraine, the language of the signage doesn't help to date the sign. But by what is being advertized and font it seems like some are pretty old (for example, the one advertizing chimney sweepers).

Edinburgh's Boot Scrapers

Edinburgh is awash with boot scrapers, especially in the New Town (built between 1765 and 1850), where just about every building's front door or front stairway is flanked by boot scrapers. The boot scrapers come in various designs. Some are attached to the railings of the balconies, but most are free standing. Some are missing, or broken, but it seems that most have survived, though likely never used.

Taming the Bicycle

I highly recommend the short story Taming the Bicycle. It is Mark Twain's humurous account of learning to ride the high-wheel bicycle, which is also called the ordinary or the penny-farthing. I decided to include it in my blog because it is about a type of bicycle that is now antiquated. It's not something I ever see in the streets, but there are people who ride it for the novelty of it.

About Taming the Bicycle:

"(Written about 1893; not before published)
In the early eighties Mark Twain learned to ride one of the old high-wheel bicycles of that period. He wrote an account of his experience, but did not offer it for publication. The form of bicycle he rode long ago became antiquated, but in the humor of his pleasantry is a quality which does not grow old.
A. B. P. I"

You can read the story on Gutenberg.

"Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live."

Old Storm Drain and Fire Hyrdant in Uzhhorod

An old storm drain in Uzhhorod, most likely from the interwar period.

An old fire hydrant in Uzhhorod from 1930.

Manhole Covers in Chernivtsi

In Chernivtsi I found manhole covers from Austrian (pre-WWI) and Romanian (interwar) times. I saw both German-language and Romanian-language ones.
The Austrian-era ones use the German name for the city, Czernowitz. The ones made by Pittel & Brausewetter company include Wien (Vienna). This company was founded in 1870 in Bratislava and in the early 20th century expanded to many locations in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But as the company’s headquarters weren’t moved to Vienna until 1926, I am a little confused as to when these manhole covers are from. I suppose it is possible that the P&B ones are from the interwar period.
The Romanian-era companies used the Romanian name for the city, Cernauti, and included either the name of the company or the word municipiul (municipality).

I also found a telephone manhole with the inscription: Societatea Anonima Romana – De Telefoane, which translates as Romanian Anonymous Telephone Society. The society was founded in 1930.

Pre-Soviet Storm Drains in Lviv

Unlike the sewer manhole covers, many of the storm drains have dates. The oldest storm drains date to 1902; there are also many from the late 1930s, especially 1939. It seems even during Austrian times the Polish name of Lviv was used, as seen in storm drain from with inscription Ed. Machan Lwow 1902.

Some of the same manufacturers made both manhole covers and storm drains, such as Ed. Machan Lwow, A. Kunz Lwow, and Słowik.

Austrian Rectangular Manhole Covers

In front of the House of Scientists in Lviv are a few unique Austrian-era rectangular manhole covers. 

Pre-Soviet Manhole Covers in Lviv

Lviv has hundreds of Austrian- and Polish-era manhole covers covering various buried public utilities and services such as sewers, storm drains, water mains, electricity, telephone, hydrants, etc. These covers still prevent unauthorized access to the manholes; however, the companies that manufactured them, whose inscriptions are still visible, are defunct.

The large roundmanhole covers for access to the sewersdate back tothe turnof the nineteenthand twentiethcenturies through the 1930s, first from the Austrian then Polish times. Most of the inscriptions are in Polish, with such words as kanalizacja(sewerage) and Lwow, and many Polish surnames. Some also include the names of factories, such as “Perkun Lwow. Społka komandy F. Pietzscha. Fabryka maszyn odlew zelaza” (Perkun Lwow. F. Pietzsch Company. Cast Iron Machine Factory).
There are still many of these in Lviv, but some of the inscriptions have worn off from the millions of feet that have walked over them; others are stolen for scra…