The three one-story brick buildings, one of which is topped by a 30-meter chimney, became the embodiment of technical progress in Lviv at the end of the 19th century.
This is where the electric trams would start their route. This is where the first power plant was located.
However, not everyone supported the idea of introducing electricity to the city. Both officials and scientists were against it.
At the level of European cities
The beginning of the discussion on the installation of a power station in Lviv, and hence on the laying of tracks for an electric tram. Local magazines publish letters with the initiative of several residents to establish the National Electric Society. The reason for the letter was the Galician regional exhibition, which was to take place in two years. At least a million people were expected to attend the event. At that time, the only public transport in the city was a horse-driven tram. It connected the railway station to the Pidzamche station and Mytna Square. However, the administration of the horse tram refused to pave a new route that would bring financial benefits for only a few months. A new, spacious, and fast transport was needed.
Scientists opposed it
Among the people who signed that letter was engineer Valerian Dzeslevsky. A year earlier, he took over the newly opened department of electronics at Lviv Polytechnic. Since then he has visited the most progressive cities in Europe. He studied their experience in solving transport problems. After these trips, he came to the conclusion that the best option for Lviv was electric trams.
Dzeslevsky's views were not shared by all local scholars. On March 22, 1893, a weekly meeting was held at the Polytechnic Society. Honorary chairman of the association Roman Gostkovsky read an essay "On the city railway in Lviv."
At the level of European cities
He said that the horse-driven tram had two disadvantages:
– sanitary
– a contract for the city would have disadvantages
Officials were hesitant
Finally, the professor focused on local conditions.
"Each city is capable of holding only a certain length of electric tracks," he said, "For Lviv, this distance is 7.2 km. Since the city authorities are considering the 8.9 km long railway project, and must also take into account the competition with the horse-driven tram, it can be stated unequivocally that nothing good will come of this venture.
Lviv between the two world wars was Polish not only formally. More than half of the city's population were Poles. There were also two influential minorities, Jews and Ukrainians.
The main argument against the new technology was the cost.
"Most residents of the suburbs doubt whether the new railway will bring them profit or just loss," said councilor Stanislaw Nemchinovsky, "There is a lack of cobblestones, sidewalks, light and water in the suburbs. Moreover, it will not benefit artisans, because it will only complicate their work. And our city first of all needs development of crafts. Considering that thousands of human hands cannot find work, their money will not be spent on electricity.
"Everyone who supports the construction of these tracks sees Lviv the way it is not," adviser Vikentiy Ravsky said after the councilor, "This is not Vienna, not Pest, and not Prague! Lviv is a bureaucratic city. There is no special trade movement here. Therefore, comparing it to these cities is completely inappropriate. Our intellectuals rarely take the tram because there are carriages at affordable prices. Women will not ride it either. It is possible that in the future the electric railway will become profitable. But we will have to wait for many years.
In the end, common sense prevailed
On April 18, 1893, councilors supported the introduction of an electric tram in the city.
The responsibility of constructing the tracks was given to the German company Siemens & Halske. It used to build city railways and supply cars to Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, and London.
It was also necessary to build premises in which cars would stop for the night and where electricity would be generated. To do this, they chose the area at the beginning of Vuletska Street - now Sakharova. At that time, it was a suburb.
In the end, common sense prevailed
Start of construction of the power plant
"Siemens & Halske technical staff has already arrived in Lviv and started construction of a power plant near the Pelchyn pond. The soil previously intended for this purpose proved to be unsuitable due to a very deep layer of sand. Building the foundation had to be moved closer to Vuletska Road."
The work lasted less than six months. It was completed on February 21, 1894. At a Polytechnic Society meeting, the author of the project, Alfred Kamenobrodsky, delivered an essay "On the Central Power Station", from which you can form an idea of how the complex worked:
Start of construction of the power plant
Thus, the station consisted of four buildings spread over an area of 250 m2:
A building with two steam engines, which produced electricity with a capacity of 500 horsepower - 300 kW. It still exists to this day and is easy to identify by the high red brick chimney.
The so-called "remiza", a premise for tramcars. In the beginning, there was only one hangar, which was located on the left if you look from the side of modern Vitovsky Street. In 1907, according to the design of the same Alfred Kamenobrodsky, a twin building was built on the far right. In 1927 they were connected by a central building. The author was Adolf Kamenobrodsky, an architect's son.
A well.
An Administration building. It was disassembled in the 1980s when the street was widened for the future construction of an underground tram line.
After reading the summary, a discussion took place. Roman Gostkovsky doubted whether the energy stated by the speaker would be enough for full-fledged tram traffic. And whether the chimney would be too low.
"A load weighing one ton requires the power of one horse," Kamenobrodsky said, "One car weighs seven tons, so to get it moving you need seven horses. As 20 cars will run on the streets, 140 horsepower cars should be enough."
Instead, the height of the chimney was considered too small for the amount of coal that must be burned to produce the necessary energy.
The first electric tram ride through the city
On the night of May 15, 1894, the first test drive of the electric tram took place in the city. Two cars drove from the hangar to the Vienna Coffee House and back. The sparks, which periodically flew out of the wires and wheels, were especially fascinating to the bystanders. On the way to the depot near the post office, one tram lost contact with the wire. It was then hitched to another car and taken back.
The first electric tram ride through the city
A week later, a demonstration trip was held for city council members and journalists. As the press reported it in advance, several thousand people gathered at Vuletska street.
At 18:45, four trams left the power plant one after another. Three of them successfully worked throughout the whole planned path. The journey between the endpoints was 5 kilometers and lasted 20 minutes. The fourth car, which was driven by a sergeant from Budapest, stopped in the middle of Copernicus Street.
Regular routes of new transport
The cars could fit 21 seated and 11 standing passengers. The first route connected the railway station and the entrance to the regional exhibition. The station by the Vienna Coffee House divided it into two sections. The journey of one cost 4 or 5 hellers, depending on the class. For comparison, a cup of coffee in a coffee shop would then cost 20-24 hellers. Children up to 1 meter tall could ride for free.
Regular routes of new transport
On June 12, 1894, the magazine Kurjer Lwowski joyfully reported
"The pessimists climbed out of Lviv, fled before the electric track, before the electric light, before everything that the exhibition created. Today there is only a place for optimists, only for light, only for those who want to love and know how to love."
In the autumn of the same year, an electric tram began running on Lychakiv. As predicted by city councilors, local residents actively opposed the technical novelty.
The city bought the tram network
According to the contract with Siemens & Halske, the city had the right to buy the tram network after two years, which happened in 1896. The price was 1.68 million kroons. The City Electric Institution was established.
The city bought the tram network
In the fall of the same year, an electric tram began running on Lychakiv. As predicted by city councilors, locals actively opposed the technical novelty.
In 1908 all horse-driven tram routes were bought and electrified. The horses were sold at an auction, and the carriages began to be used as electric trailers.
Due to lack of capacity of the old power plant, the city decided to build a new one: with a capacity of 6 thousand horsepower, 4.5 thousand kW
Since then, the territory of the first power plant in the city began to be used as a car repair shop.
Very soon the premises became too cramped even for the tram, while its network was growing rapidly. First, new hangars were built in the area of the slaughterhouse, currently depot №2. Then they bought the Windischgratz equestrian arena at the beginning of Horodotska. Later, another "remiza" was built near Horodok slingshot, now there is a depot №1.
The beginning of the construction of the underground tram, which never ended after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Lvivelectrotrans and Lem Station have signed an agreement to create a creative space in the old tram depot.
© LEM Station. 2019
1. central hangar
– food court;
– media hub;
– place to work communication and recreation;
– meet-up zone for 30-50 people;
– area for art exhibition.
2. right hangar
– event hall;
– maker space.
3. hospital
– co-working;
– mini offices.
4. compressor station
– art centre;
– media lab.