Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ujpest. Synagogue and Holocaust Memorial.

Ujpest was a small city formed on the edge of Pest in 1838.  Its name means "new Pest."  It was established by Isaac Lowy who owned a shoe factory and wanted to move to Pest.  Because he was Jewish he could not obtain a settlement permit, so he decided to create a town to house his factory,, buying land from Karolyi nobles.  The deed included the right to religious freedom, to self-government, and to engage in business.  In 1866, financed by the Lowy family, a neo-logue (Conservative) synagogue in the "Romantic Moorish" style was built.  It has seats for 1000 people.

Many of the Jews of Budapest survived until 1944.  However, because Ujpest was not part of Budapest, its deportations began earlier.  In all about 20,000 Ujpest Jews died.  Today there is a memorial wall in the synagogue complex that lists the names.   We weren't able to gain access.  But outside the wall there is a sculptural memorial which narrates the story of Ujpest's Jews.

Preparing to leave:

Brutalized by the Arrow Cross:

Deported to the camps:

 Rescued by the Russians:

 Some details

Ujpest is now part of Budapest proper; the last stop on the M3 line.  It's a nice little town, with a beautiful city hall and a sad piece of history.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Gyula Fodor I

Following a theme, I thought some people might (???) want to know a little more about the architect mentioned in the last two posts.  Fodor (1872-1942) was a well known architect, particularly of multi-apartment buildings for wealthy clients.  His career began around 1900 and virtually ended with the beginning of World War I. His buildings are often decorated with sculpture, most of which appear to be the work of Simon Ney (about whom I know nothing), and the interiors often incorporate stained glass from the workshops of Miksa Roth.. The sculpture above is on the facade of his building at Falk Miksa utca and may be a portrait of the architect.   

Here are some more pictures of the building on Falk Miksa utca.

Another famous building is Napoleon Udvar (courtyard) on Hajos utca, built 1905-1906 for Ignatius Pollack and his wife, very near the Hungarian Opera House,  The outside of the building is striking (though the stauary on the ceiling is hidden beneath protective cloths.   

The interior is gorgeous.  (I sneaked into this one.)

Interestingly (or not), I found a list of the inhabitants.  

Samuel Wolf Schreiber discounting and bank industry commission shop ownerMor grocer WolliczerBernard tailor GelbWeil Rezsõ engineer, building contractor (tel: 171-56)Frederick Grün DealerAgent Grünfeld AdolfJoseph Wolf Fleischmann, czégb coffee-shop owner (tel: 98-08). - Name again find in the "cafe" keyword as the owner of the building operating Figaro cofee !!Stricker Mór doctor (tel: 11-59), with up to 3-4Dr. László attorney Charles (tel: 71-76)Gyula Heller securities agentFürst Kalman butcherB. Bleier sisters, women's clothing tailorsArthur De Sanctis singing teacherGiovanni Lunardi opera singerthe term "military equipment" section Hirschl and Heimann (tel 109-64)Former billboards placed near the door turns out to be was here in Pest County Savings Association office, Mazzantini Luigi renowned ballet master illem- and dance institute on the first floor and Jeno Geyer photographic art institutions

In 1905-1907 Fodor built the Eagle Inn for Count Gyula Karolyi. The ironwork is by Gyorgy Gero.  It is an udvar, that opens both to Ulloi ut 14 and Baross utca 11.

This is the Ulloi ut entrance.  It has the eagle and sculpture at the top.

This is the gate to Baross 11.

And some of its decoration.  (The eagle is missing on this side.)

Fodor designed so many beautiful and interesting buildings, but I think I should stop now and make this Gyula Fodor I.  I'll put up pictures of other buildings at another time; probably when I'm back in Louisville and have less interesting things in my life to blog about.

#Falk Miksa ut

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Budapest. Raday utca 9.

In In the Darkroom, which I wrote about in the last post, I noted that one of the places mentioned in the book was Raday utca 9, a secession-era house designed by noted architect Gyula Fodor.  I live about a 10 minute walk from there, and pass it almost everyday.  I thought readers, or potential readers, of the book might be interested in seeing more of the building. Susan Faludi describes the building this way.  (She gets into the building--like I often do--by slipping in after someone has opened the door).

"The front hall was refurbished.  The red-tiled wainscotting gleamed, and the freshly painted walls glowed a warm creamy yellow, white mouldings buffed to a high shine.  

"The interior Art Nouveau friezes had been restored; they ran in a long white panorama down either side of the hallway and across the ceiling."

"I gazed upon lithe nudes in playful motion: a girl in ecstatic mid-twirl with arms flung wide; two nubile dancers prancing together with wild abandon, their fingers interlaced; a muscular and naked Adonis reclining with a book. Had these been the daily muses of my father's boyhood?"

Susan Faludi's absolutely accurate and detailed description of entry hall of Raday utca 9 anchors her book in reality in a precise and meaningful way.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Susan Faludi. In the Darkroom.

In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi is a biographical account of her father.  Faludi is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist and noted feminist writer.  In this account, Faludi interrogates the slippery and often dangerous notions of identity, especially (as in the case of Susan's father) identities that include gender, religion, and nationality.  The book begins when Susan, after being out of contact with her father for twenty plus years, receives an email announcing that her father, Steven Faludi, has undergone gender transformation surgery and is now Stephanie Faludi.  Her father is in his seventies, living in Budapest when the news arrives.

Susan Faludi's memories of her father are of an aggressive, often bullying man.  These memories include her father brutally attacking a man her mother was seeing after Steven had left his family and Steven threatening Susan as a child.  When her father emails her asking her to come to Budapest and perhaps write the story of her father's life, she hesitantly resumes contact.

In the Darkroom details the story of Susan Faludi's attempts to understand and connect or perhaps reconnect with her father--now Stephanie.  It takes place over about 10 years, from 2004 when, as she says, she "set out to investigate someone I scarely knew, my father," to her father's death in 2015. On one level, the book narrates the story of their 10-year renewed relationship; on another level, it narrates the story of her father's life, as Susan comes to understand it.

This extraordinarily complex and beautifully written book explores ar least three contradictions in her father's sense(s) of identity.  One is gender.  As a feminist, Susan understand gender as a socially constructed category that exists on a continuum, rather than as a binary M/F.  However, Stephanie, and most of her transgender friends, believe that once they have remade themselves women (especially those who undergo gender transformation surgery), they are changed in an essential way.  Stephanie now lives as a "lady," concerned with clothes and being pretty, and happy now that people "help" her because she is a woman.   Life is much easier, she insists.

The second problematic category for Susan and Stephanie is that Steven Faludi was Jewish.  Born Istvan Friedman in Hungary, he survived the Arrow Cross in Budapest by hiding and also by masquerading as an Arrow Cross member.  In one noteworthy incident, he marches as Arrow Cross into the Yellow Star house where his parents reside and orders them out  before deportation.  There is little or no Judaism in the house Susan remembers growing up in.  But one night when they end up at a Rosh Hashonah service in Budapest, it is Stephanie who knows the prayers and who saves the prayer book so she can say Kaddish for her parents.

And all this is made even more problematic because Stephanie has now reclaimed Hungarian citizenship and lives, apparently with pleasure, within a country that is increasingly anti-Semitic and homophobic.  Susan argues with her father over all this.  As the book unfolds we see the arguments and the truces. They did not achieve a "laying down of arms," she says, but did seem to arrive "at an understanding, even a closeness."

I read this in Budapest, not that far from where Stephanie lived.  (I am in Pest; Stephanie was in Buda.)  Stephanie died in 2015, the year I began extended visits to Budapest.   Like Stephanie, I love Budapest, but like Susan I understand that the "beautiful parts" exist within a country that has a terrible history and some terrible parts of its present.

One of the pieces of her past Stephanie held onto were deeds to two properties her father owned before the war, properties that were never returned to her despite the round of claims for restitution so many others have also made.  When she died, Susan found the deeds along with a sheaf of birth certificates of dead relatives and a few letters in the safe which held the "important things" Susan would inherit after her father's death.  One of the houses is on Raday utca (street), where I live next to in Budapest.  This house, 9 Raday utca, is a beautiful secession house built in 1909 by the famed architect Gyula Fodor.  Fodor is known for incorporating sculpture on his buildings, and the picture at the top of this blog post is a sculptural piece prominent on the facade: a female figure (probably Hungaria, or more simply a mother), sheltering her children who are themselves holding up tokens of art--sculpture and books.  There is also another statue, see below, this one at the very top of the building and covered by a protective screen, where the figure holds the miniature of a house.

At the very end of her life, Stephanie recedes into dementia which Susan sees as "an onrush of all she had experienced, suffered, fled.   The paranoia and hallucinations afflicting her were rooted in the realities of her past, the histories she had walled off."  Steven lost his family, his home, his religion, and his country.  Like Anderson's "ugly duckling," (a story Stephanie loves), Stephanie has changed.  But like the house on Raday utca, the past remains--even if its inhabitants are no longer the same.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Bathory utca, Budapest: The Variety of Turn of the Century Architecture.

On Bathory utca, one finds a block that includes series of houses built in the turn of the century: a remarkable collection of architecture, ranging from historicist to eclectic historicist to early modern. These buildings were all designed and constructed within 10 years, making the whole issue of periodization in Hungarian architecture questionable or at least problematic.

Starting at the end of the block, at Bathory utca 20 is this eclectic historicist--and flamboyant--house designed by Gyla Illes in 1891.

 The theme is musical in part.

The frieze is by Karolyi Lotz (1833-1904), a famous Hungarian painter and muralist.

The interior has an ornate wrought iron staircase and the typical courtyard of large Budapest apartment--or tenement--buildings as they were known.

A few houses down is No. 7, the Dawidson House, built by Emil Vidor in 1903.

Although built only a few years later, it shows Vidor's more simplified and early modern style.

Next door at no. 7 is a more typically eclectic building, this one by Samuel Revesz and Jozsef Kollar in 1905.

Across the street from No. 7 is No 5, the main reason we came here. It was built in 1905 by the great electic historicist architect Ignac Alpar for the Neuschlosz family, for whom he also built the house on Apostol ut in Buda in 1898,  (The Bathory utca building is much more typically historicist than the more imaginative villa in Buda, probably because the Buda house is a single family home rather than a "tenemant" house.)

(Note the peacocks above the door.)

No. 5 Bathory utca, which also faces Honved utca, like many great houses, "turns the corner."

Some details.

And the interior!

Across the street at Bathory ut 4-6 is the more purely historicist building by Artur Meinig, built in 1896.

And finally at No. 3 is the 1902 house by Geza Aladar Karman and Gyula Ullmann.

For those of you who have gotten this far with me, you may be asking "what does all this mean?"  Pretty much damned if  I know myself.

For some as-yet unfathomed reason, I find this all endlessly fascinating.  Some possible reasons?

  • I find the aesthetic of these buildings pleasing.  (Explaining why something is or isn't aesthetically pleasing to any particular person is too complicated or mysterious for me to attempt.)
  • I find it pleasing to discover how to "read" these buildings:  what elements to look for and look at.  In the process of this discovery, I gain a more connected or engaged form of understanding.
  • I find it fun to discover the background of these buildings.  It's like a kind of treasure hunt:  find the building, figure out who built it, try to find out who lived there, work out what style it is, decide whether it's a good or excellent or terrible example of this particular form of architecture.  (For those who take gaming seriously, I'll just say it's like a never-ending video game, where I am constantly discovering new parts of the game space.  If that doesn't make any sense to you, please ignore.) 
  • And it seems like somehow this will come together into something interesting and meaningful, maybe the book I am trying to write?

#BathoryUtca #Budapest #Architecture #GylaIlles #EmilVidor #Samuel ReveszandJozsef Kollar #Apar Ignac #ArturMeinig  #GezaAladarKarma&GyulaUllmann