Conscription Numbers: Lviv

Under the Austrian Empire (Galicia was established in 1772), buildings were given conscription numbers, which served as addresses until 1871. (See also examples of conscription numbers in other parts of the Austrian Empire: Vienna, Klosterneuburg, and Przemyśl.)

“House numbers, also called house conscription numbers, had their origins with the Austrian imperial regime’s need to know the names of all eligible men who could be drafted into the army when the need arose. A metal plaque with a number was attached to each house. With this number in the records of births, military officials could examine the transcripts in the bishop’s office and calculate the age of everyone in a particular house,” from John D. Pihach’s Ukrainian Genealogy.

The first conscription numbers, especially in the city center, were given in sequential order to already existing buildings (beginning with the city hall). But as new buildings were built, they received the next available number. So, for the most part, the conscription numbering system was chronological.

In addition to the city center (Середмістя), Lviv was divided into four districts: 1 – Halytska, 2 – Krakivska, 3 – Zhovkivska, 4 – Brodivska (later Lychakivska). Thus each conscription number that was attached to a building in one of these districts also included a fraction showing in which district out of the 4 the building was located. The lower the conscription number, the older the building was in the district.

Cadastral map from 1802 showing districts
Cadastral map from 1871 showing districts

It is also worth noting that the boundaries of the districts changed throughout the years, albeit not significantly. Also, conscription numbers of certain buildings and/or plots may have changed — for example, if an old plot was redivided it could have been given new numbers, or if a building was torn down the new one could have received a new one.

In 1871 sequential numbering and official street names were introduced, but conscription numbers were used by builders until the beginning of the twentieth century.

Some of the original conscription numbers can still found on buildings in Lviv.  Several kinds of signs and plaques were used to display the conscription numbers. Some just show numbers; others have either “No.” or “No. Konskr.” a Polish abbreviation of “Conscription No.”

The vast majority are located on the exterior of the buildings. But I did come across one example of one located inside a building (I saw many such examples in Vienna, and one example in Przemyśl).

Two examples from the city center, hence without district numbers

Examples from other districts

Conscription no. 1031, from District I (Halytska), located indoors. Source:

Collection of old street signs, including two conscription numbers, in courtyard of Kupol restaurant

8 thoughts on “Prewar Painted Stripes in Lviv

  1. Thank you Areta for another important and timely blog post on the challenges and issues of Jewish heritage and recovery of memory. We are hopeful that soon the headstones used as basement steps in a courtyard in Lviv (Hałycka Płoszcza 15 / Galitskaya 15) will be recovered. The Lviv Volunteer Center is working behind the scenes to make this happen, with the support of the Lviv Jewish community and others.

  2. This is the part that blows my mind: “During periods of transition, the records occasionally show the use or mix of two languages—Church Slavonic and Latin, or Latin and Ukrainian…”
    SO COOL!
    Thanks, Areta!

  3. > The largest and best-preserved fragment of Lviv’s medieval defense structures is the Hlyniany Gate (1618)

    Areta, Hlyniany Gate and wall around it have been renovated.

    There used to be some residential building in its place (behind the now-demolished fire station in the foreground)

    Building, close-up

    The wall looked like this

  4. Any idea what the Yiddish is on the hat sign on the right? I can make out most of the letters, but my Yiddish isn’t good enough to fill in the blanks. I used to pass by that wall frequently on my way to a friends house, but he has moved since then. It’s still my favorite ghost sign, though 🙂

  5. Kudos to you, Aretha. I came across your blog from a repost from one of your diaspora Ukrainian language from Pre-war Galicia words versus accepted and widely used Post-war words for a long list of foods. I too grew up in the diaspora in Cleveland. I was in Lviv in November of this soon to be last year. Although Lviv is my Dad’s ancestral city, I had family from Central Ukraine and grew up hearing both dialects. I think the blog was from 2014 or 2015. I wanted to leave a comment on your new blog and commend you for the interesting sociolinguistic and cultural discussions you have initiated. Nice to see that you are now in the field doing your research first-hand.

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