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2(12)/2002, p. 79

Elżbieta Przesmycka
The influence of legislation on the image of towns in the Russian Partition, on the example of the Lublin region

    The present shape of the Polish urban structures has been influenced by a number of factors, which stimulated or limited its development.
    In the 18th century, the first police directives were introduced in order to improve the state of the architectural order, public safety, and other aesthetic and functional aspects. Apart from local solutions, there could be observed broader initiatives attempting at the regulation of urban development in the scale of the whole country. After the wars of the 17th century, in many places of the Polish Commonwealth, the reconstruction of the urban tissue was conducted without any respect for customary and written laws. The anarchistic nature of the properties’ owners was one of the common reasons for these haphazard and careless initiatives. Additionally, in many cities there existed juridical districts, which were not controlled by official magistracies. Not before the end of the 18th century could some improvements be observed in the image of towns of the Lublin region. This improvement usually concerned the towns owned by magnates. The pioneering efforts to organise urban structures were initiated by the Pavement Commission in 1733; and the first legal solutions, concerning building standards and architectural organisation of Polish towns, were passed at the Seym of 1764. At the end of the 18th century, the Boni Ordinis Commissions were formed; their main aim was the reorganisation of rules for the development of royal cities.
    During the Partition period (1795–1918), the institution of building control was regulated differently in each of the three occupation zones. The most significant legal regulations, concerning construction and architectural development, in the Russian Partition, were the following: the General Regulations for the Building Police combined with decisions of the Chairman of the Administrative Council, and the regulations of the Civil Code. Between 1820–1830, an intensive activity could be observed as far as the regulation and development of the towns and cities of the Polish Congress Kingdom were concerned. In 1848, the Administrative Council ordered preparation of town plans and detailed schedules of their gradual reorganisation. These schemes were to follow a model organisation plan of a Russian town called Krasne. In the years 1869–1870, many towns of the Polish Kingdom were degraded to the status of a settlement. After regaining independence (1918), Poland was to wait until the year 1924 for the homogeneous Polish Construction Law, which was in force till the outbreak of the Second World War.