Streets: Lainici și Feroviarilor
Adrian Stănescu, Costel Andoniu, Lois Zalman”,
cronicarul de teatru Liviu Bratoloveanu (1912–1983), actorul Constantin Catichi (Teatrul Muncitoresc C.F.R. Giuleşti), maestrul coregraf Petre Bodeuț.
Grivița Roșie is the name we used when referring to the 9 blocks built between the Feroviarilor and Lainici streets, on the site of the “Steaua Română” Oil Factory, destroyed by the spring of 1944 bombings. Later, the authorities also built other apartment buildings.
The rehabilitation of the Steaua neighborhood began in the spring of 1945. An article published in the “CFR Fight” showed, in its conclusion, the plan for the construction of “three large blocks with several hundred apartments each in the Steaua neighborhood and in other centers with a dense CFR population, provided with all that is needed to be as comfortable as possible.” These blocks were built in two areas: on the Pieptănari Blvd., in the Viilor lotissement and in the addition of the Steaua neighborhood, on the site of the former Steaua Oil Factory, between Lainici and Feroviarilor streets, on a space that remained in the memory of the inhabitants under the name “Distribuția(The Distribution)”. The references given by the inhabitants to the name of this neighborhood often mention “Grivița” or “Grivița Roșie”.
A symbolic name, which “Lupta CFR” attributes to this neighborhood that was to be built, was Cartierul Democrației (the Democracy Neighborhood). This gesture marked the end of an era in which the right to housing was ignored by the authorities and, at the same time, the beginning of a new political stage, in which the new socialist authorities were to fulfill the wishes of the working classes. The author of the article presents in dark colors the coming of the winter of 1944, when the Ceferists had nowhere to live: “We are at the beginning of the winter season – one that was announced to be mild, but winter nevertheless – and the CFR workers do not have shelter for their families, as the hastily repaired ruins and the basements where they live can hardly be called homes.” The description of Calea Griviței is just as bleak: “We know very well the reality behind the road and the neighborhood that bear the same name. An agglomeration of shanties, unhealthy to the greatest extent, dirty, lacking the most basic amenities and a source of infections and pestilence. The small shacks in which the families of the workers were living made great hosts of syphilis, tuberculosis and promiscuity.” All these were about to be changed.
The question that the new designers sought to answer was, however, the same as during the interwar projects: individual vs collective housing. Presenting both the advantages and disadvantages of each of the options, the author of the article stated that the optimal solution is “to build two or three storey houses, where up to 10 families can live. These houses, which must have the number of floors as the only restraint, will be able to be as varied in style as possible. Secondly, each one must have a garden, large terraces and businesses on the ground floor. ” The shops were no longer arranged on the ground floor of those pavilions, although they listed a number of advantages that they could have: “the usefulness of the shops should be seen through the contribution they have to the provisioning, the time savings given by the fact that the supplier lives in the same place and as these shops are rented, the rent will decrease significantly […] in terms of the cost of construction ”.
Regarding life in of the neighborhood, “in the plan on which this neighborhood of democracy will be built, spaces for public gardens and sports fields, construction of cinemas, a workers’ theater, premises and schools of all grades must be provided.”
The plans of the blocks and their placement in the space between Feroviarilor and Lainici were precisely respected and the architectural solution was an original one for that period. This type of pavilions were no longer built in the following years, thus this type of dwelling remained unique in the Bucharest landscape.
However, before the construction of these blocks, the plans for the reconstruction of the war-affected buildings in the Steaua neighbourhood are conceived. An article from “Lupta C.F.R” from 1950 called “New housing for ceferiști – talking to the families of the ceferişti workers in the C.F.R. Steaua neighbourhood”- mentions the new tenants of the remodelled apartments and writes a large report from the neighbourhood, on B street (renamed Kiev, in the post-war period, currently known as Ion Inculeț). The new blocks had been designed by the architect Cristina Neagu who “contributed a lot to their successful materialization, both in terms of compartmentalization and the external aspect. The works were executed by the C.F.R. Enterprise, led by the engineer Adrian Stănescu, assisted by the engineers Costel Andoniu, and Lois Zalman”, as mentioned by the engineers Iordănescu and Georgescu in a work dedicated to the history of C.F.R.
The inhabitants of the workers’ blocks
The editors of the “Lupta C.F.R.” newspaper speak first with Lucreța Pavelescu, “mother of eight children, the wife of comrade Pavelescu Gheorghe, a welder at Grivița Vagoane“, who “recalls past times with a heart wrench. The inhuman conditions in which she lived under past regimes left deep traces, but at the same time transformed her into a determined fighter for the cause of peace.” She goes on record for “Lupta C.F.R.”: “we know about destitution, the ten of us lived in one room, and today, thanks to the care shown by the Party, we live in an apartment composed of three rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, pantry and cellar. When I moved to the place I am now living in, I really saw the improvements that had been made for the working people and I have nothing but gratitude for this great care shown by the Party”.
The testimonials taken and processed by “Lupta C.F.R. ” converge on the same message: the reconstruction of the houses affected by the war and the realization of the new pavilions have significantly contributed to raising the standard of living of the workers, who, until then, had lived in difficult conditions. According to the same statements, the merits belong to the Party and to the liberating Soviet Army, who quickly managed to provide better alternatives to life in these neighbourhoods.
An interesting detail comes from the testimonies of Ioan Moldovean, recorded in the same report, namely access to radio broadcasts: “for many years I wanted to have a radio in the house, but it was a dream that could not be fulfilled. The benefits of progress were enjoyed in the past by only a few privileged people, for the great working classes were kept in the dark in order to be better exploited. But today […], both my family and thousands of other working families have the opportunity to raise their cultural and political level through their radios.” This testimony is taken one year after the inauguration of the first country radio station – in the Steaua district, coincidentally, on Pavlov street. Another article presents “a local broadcast at the radio station «Steaua»”. We find out how the preparations for the broadcast were made and what could be listened to then on the radio from the reporters of the “Lupta C.F.R.” newspaper:
“We are on Pavlov street in the” Steaua “district, where the radio station with the same name is located. The station’s editorial office is very busy. Preparations are being made for the local program transmission. The latest news collected during the day are being typed. A comrade of the editorial team is writing the newsletter. The operators test the equipment and make preparations so that from a technical point of view the local broadcast will be carried out in good conditions. Comrades who are taking part in in this local broadcast arrive. The radio announcer signals the beginning of the broadcast “.
It consisted of:
- The news bulletin describing “the successes of the workers from the Grivița Workshops in accomplishing the tasks of the first year of the Five-Year Plan”;
- A music segment, performed by the popular orchestra of the Laminorul Factories;
- A speech delivered by comrade Popescu Nicolae, from Grivița Roșie, who described ” how he managed to become a front runner in the production line, with the help of Soviet technical literature”;
- “A beautiful program of Romanian folk music”, at the end of the show, performed by the Laminorul Factory orchestra.
According to the reporters, ” you could read the joy of singing as well as possible on everyone’s faces, for the listeners of the radio station. The local show is over. The station now broadcasts the program of the Bucharest station”. Reporter C. Dudescu talks to Dumitru Ungureanu -planner- who “talks about the precious help that radio and local broadcasters give to the working people in this neighbourhood”, and, finally, “pioneer Rădulescu spoke to us about the broadcasts for pioneers she listens to at the speaker installed in her parents’ house. She can learn from the rich experience of Soviet pioneers from these shows, helping her in her schoolwork.”
Additional urban amenities
In a short time and with a remarkable effort, other facilities such as the nursery, the maternity ward, the Copilului Park (1947) are set up, as well as the day-care centre C.F.R. “Olga Bancic” – on no. 5 B street (Kiev / Inculeț).
The children’s day care centre was (re) inaugurated on March 1, 1945, having been erected through the efforts of the C.F.R. Trade Union and used by the its workers, who could leave their children here during their work hours. Its purpose, as expressed by the management of the Union and the directors of the centre was: ” this home has been set up so that the children are no longer left home alone, or on the streets and their parents worry for them, which is the first step towards caring for tomorrow’s generations, something that until today has left so much to be desired” (” Lupta C.F.R.”, February 25, 1945). The centre bore the name “Olga Bancic”, in memory of the Communist activist born in Bessarabia and executed by the Nazis in France in 1944. It had “reading rooms, game rooms, shower rooms, dining rooms, all with tables and chairs, special cabinets where children can put their toys and learning materials, all painted in white, as are the rooms.” The program began in the morning and lasted until 16.00, the children received food, specialized medical care and were monitored daily.
In addition to the children’s day care centre, the C.F.R. Steaua nursery (“Lupta C.F.R.”, November 10, 1945), in a “modest, clean and well-arranged house. It has two wards and a breastfeeding room “, as well as the Steaua Maternity, which is described in flattering words by the newspaper’s editors: “through the care given to mothers and new-born babies and through the special medical attention provided at birth as well as the guidance given to mothers for raising their children, the CFR Steaua Maternity medical staff has proven that they understands and fulfil their duty. ” The maternity ward had been designed in the thirties by the C.F.R. Labour House, probably following the plans of the architects Cottescu and Pomponiu.
Sports in Grivița
Perhaps the most important aspect of the neighbourhood life was taking part in sports competitions, as each issue of the “Lupta C.F.R.” magazine mentioned the achievements of the sport clubs, especially the football and rugby teams.
The last construction completed directly by C.F.R. was the building on Calea Griviţei, no. 191, “intended for workers from Griviţa Roşie” and called “the Red House”, as a result of its facades, finished with an face brick. Its construction began in 1956 under the leadership of engineer Aurelian Niculescu, but the following year, when the block was almost completed, it was handed over to the building unit of the newly established People’s Council of the Capital. Today, this building houses the C.F.R. Museum.