The postcard shows the Piata Unirii, called Ringplatz (after the Polish “Rynek”) in the Austrian times , Red Square in Soviet times and Central Square today.
Chernivtsi was made the capital of the Bukowina after the annexation by Austria in 1775 and granted the status of a city in 1786. The first stone buildings were erected on the later Ringplatz in the 1790s. When Emperor Franz visited Chernivtsi in 1817, the square was already the center of town. In the second half of the 19th c. the houses were replaced by todays three-storey buildings.
The town hall sits on the higher southern end of the square wich clearly shows a gradient towards the northern valley of the river Pruth. In 1843 the contruction work for a city hall on the Ringplatz started and was finished in 1848. The classicist building by the architect Andreas Mikulicz has a tower of 50 meters, used as watchtower by the fire brigade and a clock which once used to strike every full hour. In Austrian times, it was topped with a gilded double headed eagle.
The corner building next to the town hall was built in 1901 as Sparkasse (Savings Bank) by the architect Hubert Gessner, a student of Otto Wagner, in Viennese Jugendstil (Secessionist style). Today it houses the Art Museum. The house next to it was built in the 1850s and became the Rumänisches Nationalhaus (Romanian People’s House). Today it is home to the Mihai Eminescu Romanian Cultural Society. The house shown on the far right side of the postcard was the Hotel Zum Schwarzen Adler (Under the Black Eagle), the best hotel in town during the times of the Austrian rule. Today it is used by a university.
The Monumentul Unirei (Monument for the Unification of the Bukowina with Romania, Vereinigungsdenkmal) in the middle of the square was unveiled in November 1924 and was meant to celebrate the “unification of the Bukowina with Romania” in 1918. It was removed by the Soviet power in 1951.
The streetcar (in those days called tramway in Chernivtsi) shown on the postcard is the line number 1 circulating between the Volksgarten raiway station and the river Pruth. The Central Square is the urban center of Chernivtsi, no less than seven streets meet here. Plans to give the square a modern and more attractive appearance and to solve the critical traffic situation are waiting to be implemented.