The Agrarian Reform and the City: The Great Expansion of Sibiu During the Interwar Years

15 October 2020


Authors
DIANA MIHNEA
Pages
13-44
Abstract

During the 1920s, the city of Sibiu expanded by approximately 250 hectares, with an area that was three times larger than its historical core. This great expansion was the result of the application of the agrarian reform, whose laws allowed and encouraged the creation of new building plots in the cities of Transylvania, Banat, Crișana and Maramureș. Although this was the largest territorial growth of the city up until that time, it was not controlled by the municipality and its Technical Office. In fact, the city authorities were excluded from most stages of the decision-making process. All the decisions were taken by the central and local institutions of the Ministry of Agriculture and Domains that were in charge with the application of the agrarian reform. The territorial expansion was not based on any large-scale studies regarding the needs of the city or the impact on its future development. In fact, the proportions and the directions of the city’s expansion were dictated mostly by the number of accepted requests for building plots and by the position of the areas that could be expropriated and that were suitable to be parcelled.

The creation of the large new allotments was simultaneous with the efforts of the municipality to draft a systematisation plan that was now urgently necessary, given the rapidly changing situation of the city, and it was imposed by the new administrative legislation of Romania. So, shortly after the parceling plans were issued and the new building plots were distributed to those entitled, a preliminary systematization plan – drafted between 1926 and 1928 – proposed the revision of the new allotments and the modification of the procedure for assigning the building plots according to a system that would allow a gradual territorial growth of the city. Hence, during the second half of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s there were ample negotiations over the new urban territory, involving not only the Ministry of Agriculture and Domains, but also the Ministry of Interior and the Superior Technical Council. In the end, after almost a decade of negotiations, only minor adjustments were made to the allotments and the provisions of the systematisation plan were only partly applied.

Keywords

systematization plan, urban planning, city expansion, agrarian reform, new allotments, new building plots

References

[1] Hanna Derer, Arhitectura în epoca barocă [Architecture During the Baroque Era], second edition (Bucharest: Ion Mincu University Press, 2007), 71.

[2] Ibid., 65.

[3] In 1852 the bastion outside the Gate of the Tower (Sagtor/Poarta Turnului) was demolished, followed by the Burger Gate (Poarta Ocnei) in 1857 and by Elisabeth Gate (Poarta Elisabeta/Elisabeth Tor) and the bastion outside the Burger Gate in 1865. Later, in 1871, was demolished another segment of the defensive wall, situated between Elisabethgasse and Pielarilor Street. Over the next year, the rest of the wall surrounding the Lower Town was also torn down; Emil Sigerus, Cronica orașului Sibiu 1100-1929 [The Chronicle of the City of Sibiu 1100-1929], third edition (Sibiu: Editura Honterus, 2016), 48-54.

[4] Kurt S. Klemens, Dan Vladimir Vlăduț, Parcuri sibiene [Parks from Sibiu] (Sibiu: Editura Honterus, 2008), 35-42.

[5] Sigerus, Cronica, 60-68.

[6] Ibid., 63, 64.

[7] “Transylvania” will be used with an extended meaning, as the province of Greater Romania that included not only the territory of the medieval vojevodship, but also the territories of Banat, Crișana and Maramureș. In fact, this all-encompassing name was largely used during the interwar era to name together all mentioned provinces.

[8] Diana Mihnea, “Cities of Transylvania and the 1921 Agrarian Reform: Negotiations and Decisions Halfway between Administrative Autonomy and Centralization,” sITA 4 (2016): 122-125.

[9] “Decret-lege nr. 3911 pentru reforma agrară din Transilvania” [Decree-law No. 3911 for the Agrarian Reform in Transylvania], published in the Mon. Of. on September 12, 1919. In 1921, the decree-law was abrogated, and a definitive law was passed – “Legea pentru reforma agrară din Transilvania, Banat, Crișana și Maramureș” [The Agrarian Law for Transylvania, Banat, Crișana and Maramureș], published in the Mon. Of. No. 93 on July 30, 1921.

[10] Diana Mihnea, “Cities”, 35-41.

[11] The expropriations were coordinated by the following institutions: Comisia de Ocol pentru expropriere [The Local Commission for Expropriations] was the institution that decided which parts of the estates were to be expropriated and it was the court of first instance; Comisia Județeană pentru expropriere [The County Commission for Expropriation] established the physical boundaries of the expropriated land and the amount of the compensation, and it was also an appeal court. Similarly, the allotments and the distribution of building plots were coordinated by: Comisiunea de Ocol pentru Împroprietărire [The Local Committee for Allotments], as the court of first instance, and Comisiunea Județeană pentru Împroprietărire [The County Commission for Allotments], as the appeal court. The highest rank in this institutional hierarchy was the Comitetul Agrar [Agrarian Committee]. Initially an advisory body for the Ministry of Agriculture and Domains, the Agrarian Committee became in 1922 a superior judicial body, a court of revision whose decisions were final, enforceable and could not be further appealed (Diana Mihnea, “Orașele Transilvaniei în perioada interbelică. Implicații urbanistice ale legislației de împroprietărire” [The Cities of Transylvania in the Interwar Period. Urban Implications of Allotments Legislation], PhD thesis, Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, 2015, 34-38).

[12] Casa Centrală a Cooperației și Împroprietăririi Sătenilor [The Central House of Cooperation and Allotments of the Villagers] was founded at the beginning of 1919, as an autonomous institution subordinated to the Ministry of Agriculture and Domains. One of the five sections of the institution was Direcțiunea Cadastrului și a Lucrărilor Tehnice [The Direction of Cadastre and Technical Works], which was assigned, amongst others, with the “management, control and execution of technical works for the delimitation, measurement, parcelling and merging of expropriated and purchased estates” (article 39, letter a of Decree No. 3922 published in the Mon. Of. No. 225 on January 3, 1919).

[13] “Legea pentru reforma agrară”, articles 103, 108.

[14] Fund Ministerul Agriculturii și Domeniilor. Comitetul Agrar. Județul Sibiu [Ministry of Agriculture and Domains. The Agrarian Committee. Sibiu County], file no. 26/1923, 12, Serviciul Arhivelor Naționale Istorice Centrale [National Central Historical Archives Service] (henceforth cited as SANIC).

[15] Fund Camera Agricolă [Chamber of Agriculture], file no. 25/1932, 3, Serviciul Județean al Arhivelor Naționale Sibiu [Sibiu County Service of the National Archives] (henceforth cited as SJANS).

[16] In this regard, Comisia Județeană Sibiu pentru expropriere [The Sibiu County Commission for Expropriation] decided that it would exempt from expropriation the area occupied by the aqueduct and would give the city the right of servitude for a narrow strip of land, six metres wide on each side of the aqueduct.

[17] Fund Ministerul Agriculturii și Domeniilor. Comitetul Agrar. Județul Sibiu, file no. 26/1923, 5, 6, 9, 27, 78.

[18] Fund Camera Agricolă, file no. 25/1932, 88.

[19] Fund Ministerul Agriculturii și Domeniilor. Comitetul Agrar. Județul Sibiu, file no. 26/1923, 3.

[20] Fund 477. Ministerul Agriculturii. Comitetul Agrar (pe județe) [Ministry of Agriculture. Agrarian Committee (by Counties)], in the Central National Archives, contains a series of files with documents presented during the lawsuits filed by the city of Sibiu and several other landowners (Iuliu Bielz, Friederika Mnagesius, Alfond Robert Schebesch, Carolina Radulovici, etc.) against the expropriation of their land. In many cases, the areas were intended, from the very beginning of the expropriation process, to be parcelled out into building plots (for houses).

[21] Fund Camera Agricolă, file no. 18/1927, 22.

[22] Albert Arz, Planul de sistematizare și extensiune al municipiului Sibiu [The Systematization and Extension Plan for the City of Sibiu] (Sibiu: Editura Municipiului Sibiu, 1928), 9.

[23] Mihnea, “Orașele Transilvaniei în perioada interbelică”, 108-140; Mihnea, “Cities of Transylvania”, 125-133.

[24] “Legea pentru unificare administrativă” [The Law for Administrative Unification], published in Mon. Of. No. 128 on June 14, 1925.

[25] The Superior Technical Council was an institution subordinated to the Ministry of Public Works, whose members were some of the most well-renowned architects and engineers of Romania. The council had the responsibility of analysing and approving the technical aspects of all public works in the country.

[26] Fund Primăria Sibiu. U. Urbanism [Sibiu City Hall. U. Urbanism], file no. 34c/1931, 12, SJANS.

[27] Arz, Planul, 8.

[28] Ibid., 10.

[29] “Parțele de câmp”.

[30] Ibid., 9.

[31] Ibid., 10, 11.

[32] Aiud, Arad, Baia Mare, Beiuș, Bistrița, Blaj, Brașov, Cluj, Deva, Făgăraș, Gheorgheni, Hunedoara, Oradea, Salonta, Satu Mare, Sebeș, Sfântu Gheorghe, Sighetu Marmației, Șimleul Silvaniei, Târgu Mureș, Timișoara, Zalău (Mihnea, “Orașele Transilvaniei în perioada interbelică”, 140-177).

[33] Mihnea, “Cities of Transylvania”, 124, 125.

[34] Journal No. 305/1925 of the Superior Technical Council, Fund Ministerul Lucrărilor Publice. Consiliul Tehnic Superior [Ministry of Public Works. Superior Technical Council], file no. 232/1925, 36, SANIC.

[35] Fund Ministerul de Interne. Diviziunea Administrativă [Ministry of Interior. Administrative Division], file no. 255/1925, 31, 32, SANIC.

[36] Fund Ministerul Agriculturii și Domeniilor. Comitetul Agrar. Județul Sibiu, file no. 9/1930, 32.

[37] Fund Ministerul de Interne. Diviziunea Administrativă, file no. 255/1925, 34.

[38] Arz, Planul, 15.

[39] Journal No. 136/1928 of the Superior Technical Council, Fund Ministerul Lucrărilor Publice. Consiliul Tehnic Superior, file no. 459/1928, 328, 329.

[40] Journal No. 305 from December 10, 1929 of the Superior Technical Council, Fund Ministerul Lucrărilor Publice. Consiliul Tehnic Superior, file no. 519/1929, 37-38.

[41] Ibid., 37v.

[42] Ibid., 38.

[43] Journal No. 324 from December 23, 1929 of the Superior Technical Council, Ministerul Lucrărilor Publice. Consiliul Tehnic Superior, file no. 519/1929, 86.

[44] The new road would overlap today’s Avrig street.

[45] Fund Primăria Sibiu. U. Urbanism, file no. 34c/1931, 103, 106.

[46] Ibid., 38v.

[47] Fund Ministerul Agriculturii și Domeniilor. Comitetul Agrar. Județul Sibiu, file no. 24/1927, 9; file no. 9/1930, 5-28; file no. 24/1927, 5; Fund Ministerul de Interne. Diviziunea Administrativă 1921-1926, file no. 25/1925, 44.

[48] Fund Ministerul Agriculturii și Domeniilor. Comitetul Agrar. Județul Sibiu, file no. 9/1930, 35.

[49] Ibid., 35, 40.

[50] Fund Ministerul de Interne. Diviziunea Administrativă 1921-1926, file no. 25/1925, 44.

[51] Fund Ministerul Agriculturii și Domeniilor. Comitetul Agrar. Județul Sibiu, file no. 9/1930, 5.

[52] For Group III, revision plans had also been made in 1929, but the Superior Technical Council had only approved the plans for the eastern part of the group, situated between Calea Dumbrăvii and Calea Cisnădiei. So, in 1932 new plans were drawn for the southwestern area of Group III (located between Calea Dumbrăvii, Sub Arini Park and Episcop Müller street) and for the entirety of Group I (Fund Primăria Sibiu. B. Agricultura [Sibiu City Hall. B. Agriculture], file no. 30/1933, SJANS; Fund Primăria Sibiu. U. Urbanism, files no. 34a/1931, 34b/1931).

[53] It is not clear what the changes were that the new plans brought to the projects that had already been drafted in 1929-1930.

[54] Fund Primăria Sibiu. U. Urbanism, files no. 34a/1931.

[55] Fund Ministerul Agriculturii și Domeniilor. Direcțiunea aplicării reformei agrare. Județul Sibiu [Ministry of Agriculture and Domains. Directorship of the Application of the Agrarian Reform. Sibiu County], file no. 371/1937, 4, SANIC.

[56] Ibid., file no. 252/1933, 1-3.

[57] Fund Primăria Sibiu. B. Agricultură [Sibiu City Hall. B. Agriculture], file no. 26/1945, SJANS.

[58] Fund Ministerul Agriculturii și Domeniilor. Direcțiunea aplicării reformei agrare. Județul Sibiu, file no. 252/1933, 1-3, 24, 25, 35.

[59] Regulament de construcțiuni și alinieri pentru Municipiul Sibiu [Construction and Alignment Regulations for the City of Sibiu] (Sibiu: Tipografia Dacia Trajană S.A., 1936), 5.

[60] According to the plan in the archive the land belonged to a certain Mohan and his heirs (“Mohan și erezii”). It was roughly inscribed within the perimeter defined by today’s streets Octavian Goga, Alexandru Vlahuță, Grigore Alexandrescu, Mihail Sebastian, Miron Costin and Dimitrie Anghel.

[61] Fund Primăria Sibiu. B. Agricultură, file no. 29/1930, 68.

[62] Future research might establish if maybe this terrain was eventually exempted from expropriation during one of the many lawsuits of this kind that were carried out in front of the special law courts of the agrarian reform.

[63] The plan was published before but it contained a series of errors in the identification of the borders of Groups III, IV, V, VI-VII, and VIII-IX (Diana Mihnea, Irina Calotă, “Dezvoltarea orașelor României Mari în contextul împroprietăririi cu locuri de casă” [“The Development of Cities in Greater Romania in the Context of the Allotment Legislation”], AUA hist. 22, 2 (2018): 42.

List of illustrations

Fig. 1. Allotments done by the agrarian institutions in Sibiu before 1926. Plan of Sibiu, 1926, original scale 1:2,880, author’s highlights. Credits: private collection.

Fig. 2. Sketch of the systematization plan, 1926-1928 (arch. Josef Bedeus). Credits: Albert Arz, Planul de sistematizare și extensiune al municipiului Sibiu [The Systematization and Extension Plan for the City of Sibiu] (Sibiu: Editura Municipiului Sibiu, 1928), 15.

Fig. 3. Copy of the parcelling plan of the agrarian institutions for Groups VIII-IX, approved by arch. Florea Stănculescu on February 27, 1925. Credits: Fund Camera Agricolă [Chamber of Agriculture], file no. 18/1927, 3, Sibiu County Service of the National Archives (henceforth cited as SCSNA).

Fig. 4. The proposal of architect Josef Bedeus for the revision of Group III, variants A1 and A2, 1930. Credits: Fund Primăria Sibiu. U. Urbanism [Sibiu City Hall. U. Urbanism], file no. 34c/1931, 103, SCSNA.

Fig. 5. The proposal of architect Josef Bedeus for the revision of Group III, variant B, 1930. Credits: Fund Primăria Sibiu. U. Urbanism, file no. 34c/1931, 106, SCSNA.

Fig. 6. Revision plan issued by the Technical Office of Sibiu for Group III “Școala de Înot”. Credits: Fund Primăria Sibiu. B. Agricultură [Sibiu City Hall. B. Agriculture], file no. 29/1930, 68, SCSNA.

Fig. 7. Revision plan issued by the Technical Office of Sibiu for Group III “Steaua”, 1932-1933. Credits: Fund Primăria Sibiu. U. Urbanism, file no. 34b/1931, 20, SCSNA.

Fig. 8. The situation of the plots in Group III “Steaua”, 1932-1933. Credits: Fund Primăria Sibiu. U. Urbanism, file no. 34b/1931, 11, SCSNA.

Fig. 9. Revision plan issued by the Technical Office of Sibiu for Group I, southern area, 1932-1933. Credits: Fund Primăria Sibiu. U. Urbanism, file no. 34b/1931, 97, SCSNA.

Fig. 10. Revision plan issued by the Technical Office of Sibiu for Group I, northern area, 1932-1933. Credits: Fund Primăria Sibiu. U. Urbanism, file no. 34b/1931, 97, SCSNA.

Fig. 11. Detail of the systematisation plan for the terrain expropriated from Carolina Radulovici, “Lazaret”. Credits: Fund Primăria Sibiu. B. Agricultură [Sibiu City Hall. B. Agriculture], file no. 26/1945, 10, SCSNA.

Fig. 12. Parcelling plans for the terrain expropriated from Carolina Radulovici issued by the Technical Office of Sibiu in January 1933. Credits: Fund Ministerul Agriculturii și Domeniilor. Direcțiunea aplicării reformei agrare. Județul Sibiu [Ministry of Agriculture and Domains. Directorship of the Application of the Agrarian Reform. Sibiu County], file no. 252/1933, 3, National Central Historical Archives Service.

Fig. 13. Plan of Sibiu, 1936, original scale 1:10,000, author’s highlights. Credits: Fund Primăria Sibiu. U. Urbanism, files no. 9a, 5, SCSNA.