Descriptive Numbers in Prague

Buildings in Prague have two numbers: a descriptive number (číslo popisné) and a reference number (číslo orientační). The descriptive number is unique within one cadastral area. Today these numbers can be found on red plaques, but the original numbers were either painted or engraved onto the buildings or etched onto the front door windows (as is the case with conscription numbers in places like Lviv and Vienna).

In the nineteenth century, Prague’s buildings were given new orientation numbers, which are arranged sequentially within the street or square and are meant to help one find a particular house on a street. Today these numbers are found on blue plaques.

“The first descriptive numbering was ordered by Maria Theresa in 1770 and implemented in 1770–1771. The series was given successively as the soldiers went through the settlement describing houses with numbers. Thereafter, every new house was allocated the next number sequentially, irrespective of its location. Most villages still use their original number series from 1770–1771. In cities, houses have been renumbered once or more often in order to be sequential—the first wave of renumbering came in 1805–1815. In 1857, the Austrian Emperor allowed a new system of numbering by streets. This new system was introduced in the biggest cities (Prague, Brno) in the 1860s. In 1884, land registration books were introduced and they used the old (description) numbers as a permanent and stable identifier of buildings. The new (orientation) numbers continue to be used concurrently,” from Wikipedia.

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)
    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-N3g4hWC9YuQ/TbF5heED-OI/AAAAAAAAE2o/r66p5JhJ9iMx0UWnvU7y4dyC_M14zc8XwCCoYBhgL/s0/mit-001.jpg

    Building, close-up
    https://audiovis.nac.gov.pl/i/PIC/PIC_2-8519.jpg

    The wall looked like this
    https://audiovis.nac.gov.pl/i/PIC/PIC_1-U-3615.jpg

  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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