Sociotopography of Vilnius: Industrial Zones and their Development (1870–1914)

  • Aelita Ambrulevičiūtė
Keywords: industry, industrial zones, city, urban development, history of Vilnius


The scheme for the formation of the industrial zone of Vilnius is best supported by Homer Hoyt’s city development model (the sector theory). At the initial stage of industrialization of Vilnius, the industrial zone evolved along the most important transport arteries (the Vilnelė and the Neris rivers, the railway, closer to Kaunas and Kalvarija highways). They extended from south-eastern and southern part to the western part of the city and occupied the north-western and the northern parts of the city. Industrial buildings arranged in this way correspond to Hoyt’s second (transport and industrial) urban sector. Next to it there were residential zones of lower-class inhabitants in Naujamiestis, Šnipiškės, and Paupys; there was also a cone-shaped zone in the suburb of Lukiškės, in the section of Gedimino Avenue formed by Juozo Tumo-Vaižganto Street and Žvėryno Bridge, which was populated by the middle-class. Its manifestations can also be seen at the fringes of the suburbs of Šnipiškės and Paupys. Judging from the dominant industries, the environmental impact of industrial enterprises must have been felt in certain urban areas. Although all types of factories used the rivers for waste disposal and polluted them, the greatest environmental impact in Vilnius was caused by the companies processing leather and other raw materials of animal origin. They were most common in Vilnius, but their concentration in one district of the city (Lukiškės) formed a pollution zone along the river below the city and had no significant impact on the city itself. This is evidenced by the formation of middle-class neighbourhoods of rented houses and cottages in the section of Gedimino Avenue behind Tumo-Vaižganto Street, in TumoVaižganto Street and around it, and is a proof that the fourth zone (inhabited by skilled workers and higher-class civil servants and intellectuals) was forming. Due to close proximity of brickworks, leather processing factories, dyehouses, and other enterprises and residential buildings, the damage to the environment and human health caused by the factories must have been more severe in Šnipiškės. The factories of Paupys, which at that time were considered modern, best equipped, and of high sanitary norms, still polluted the water of the Vilnelė, which was the source of drinking water for the inhabitants further along the river, most of whom belonged to lower and middle classes. Šnipiškės were also a residential area with emerging neighbourhoods of low-income unskilled workers.