Prague grew massively 95 years ago

The city had been kept small before Czechoslovak independence

Prague expanded greatly 95 years ago, when the city incorporated 37 villages on New Year's Day in 1922. Prague had just become the capital of newly independent Czechoslovakia in 1918, but the city was small and had not expanded in its official size in centuries and was just Old Town, New Town, Malá Strana and Hradčany. Authorities in Vienna had blocked expansion as a way to keep Prague from becoming a regional power within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The idea for the expansion came under Prague Mayor Přemysl Šámal, who served in 1918 and '19. He urged the Parliament to set up a Committee for Greater Prague to work on the issue.

The changes did not take effect until the reign of his successor, Karel Baxa, who became the first “lord mayor” (primátor), while his predecessors were simply called mayor (starosta).

Most of the industrial areas were outside of the city limits until New Year's Day in 1922. The expansion included Smíchov, Žižkov, Holešovice, Karlín, Dejvice, Bohnice, Hloubětín, Vysočany, Královské Vinohrady, Braník and parts of Modřany, Chuchle, Košíře and Liboc, among other areas.

Issues that had to be resolved for the expansion included finances, education, taxation, building regulations, hygiene, transportation and security. Taxation was a particularly tough topic as rural areas had been paying lower taxes than people living in what was the original part of the city. Fees for schools also differed. Taxation remained a sticking point throughout negotiations, but the villages joining Prague were to get representation on the City Council, and would have a say in taxation after they joined.

For a neighboring village to be incorporated into the city, the City Council had to vote by a two-thirds majority to accept it, and the village had to vote by the same level to want to join.

The incorporated villages also came under the protection on Prague police, and the police changed their uniforms from militaristic gray-green to a less threatening blue. An effort to expand the city had been proposed in 1868 and 1869, but it failed to bear any fruit.

In 1910, Prague had a population of 223,741. After the expansion in 1922 the population rose to 676,758 and the area expanded to 171.6 square kilometers. The 1922 expansion was not the last one, though. There were two small ones in 1968 and a large one in 1974. The area is now 496 square kilometers, with a population of 1.26 million people.

The area of the city was settled as early as the Paleolithic age, but its modern history is usually counted from the ninth century AD, when construction began on Prague Castle.

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