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Public lighting

Public lighting was introduced at Constanţa in the 1860s, after the coming of the British railway company. Immediately after the arrival of the Romanian authorities, public lighting at Constanţa was done with 46 oil lamps, then with 30 more lamps. In 1881 there were 150 lamps, and since 1884 the wooden poles that supported the lights were replaced with cast iron poles, and the number of lights increased to 350. In 1896 there were 359 lamps in enterprise. In 1893 a project was drafted for the introduction of electricity, but the beginnings of electrical lighting date since 1897, when 12 electrical lamps were placed on Elisabeta Boulevard and in the Independence Square. Their number increased to 20, then to 40, but there were problems when the generator burnt. By 1904, the lower part of Constanţa was lit with electrical bulbs, and the rest of the city with lamps with mineral and liquid gas. In the same year, the Communal Council adopted a Regulation for the distribution of electrical light to private persons [1]. The development of the city imposed new necessities of public lighting, as the municipality needed a proper plant. A 120 hp engine was bought, later placed into a special building constructed by E. Lescovar. The project of the lighting was drafted by engineer N. Vasilescu–Karpen, and the cost of the complete installation (500,000 lei) was covered from a loan contracted for creating the water supply network. The works were done by the Ganz Company of Budapest. The lower part of the city was lit with 198 large bulbs and the periphery with Croizat lamps. As the need of electricity increased, the commune bought a new Diesel engine of 300 horse power, installed by the end of October 1910. It was later decided to increase the plant and to build a machine hall. The work was executed by the same company, Ganz, being completed in August 1912; in the next years (1913–1914) a new Diesel engine of 300 horse power was added. But as the need was still not covered, it was imposed either the buying of a new engine, of 600–700 horse power, or the use of the plant from the harbour. Thus, at the beginning of 1916 the lower part of the city was lit with energy provided by the harbour plant, and the upper part by the communal plant [2].

Public transportation

The first proposal to introduce a tramcar on the route Constanţa – Techirghiol and to the baths from “La Vii” was done at the meeting of the Communal Council in February 1900 [3]. Only five years later, in November 1905, the local authorities concluded a contract with engineer N. Vasilescu-Carpen, for the introduction of public lighting and of the electrical tramway. The engineer completed his project in July 1906, and this was approved and sent by the Superior Technical Council from Bucharest, but also the political misunderstandings from a local level led to the failure of the initiative [4]. In 1911, engineer Corneliu Torocianu wanted to do the project of a line for auto–motors between Constanţa – Techirghiol and Constanţa – Mamaia. The municipality signed a contract with the same engineer Vasilescu–Carpen, who also undertook the generalisation of the urban electrical lighting and the increase by 50% of the private lighting [5]. In 1912 they sanctioned the law by which the commune of Constanţa was authorised to lease the exploitation of the public and private lighting of the city, as well as the construction and exploitation of the electrical tramways and auto–motors in the city and to Mamaia, Techirghiol and Anadolchioi. The Ganz Company of Budapest had to implement the project, but after the protests of the local circles the contract was rejected [6]. The discussions continued, but the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913 and the involvement of Romania in the conflict (1913) made that the initiative was not materialised until the First World War [7].

Water supply

The water supply was a priority for all the authorities of Constanţa after 1878. The houses had fountains in their courtyards, but the water was allow and of a bad quality. In the 1880s, engineer Henry Guaracino proposed to catch and filter the water from the sources from the village of Anadolchioi and the Lake of Siutghiol, another solution being to bring the water from Eski–Baba (close to Babadag). As such measures were difficult from a technical perspective and little feasible financially, a great number of water carriers brought drinkable water from fountains from the locality of Palas, dug from Ottoman times [8]. The growth of the urban population increased these problems. In 1895, engineer Cucu drafted a project for bringing potable water from Anadolchioi, distributed in the city by a system of pipes with a length of 12.5 km [9]. At the beginnings of the 20th century, the city was supplied with water taken from three fountains in American system (wind) from the northern part of the city or bought from the fountain situated north of the village Anadolchioi. At the same time, cistern carriages carried water from Murfatlar [10]. After the completion of several bio-chemical analyses, in 1905 it was appreciated that the best water was that from the Danube. The municipality contracted a loan of 4 million lei, the direction and supervision of the works were given to engineer Virgiliu N. Ionescu, who also drafted the technical project, and the execution of the works was assumed by the General Company of Water of Liège, for the amount of 3 million lei (December 1906). Due to the juridical and political reasons, the cession was delayed, and the engineer was replaced by Charles Letourneur. In 1910 almost 1 million lei had already been paid with trials, expertise, salaries, indemnities etc. Thus, the Romanian state contributed with the sum of 2.7 million lei, the works were executed under the control of engineer Panait, the delegate of the Home Ministry. In the spring of 1914 it was seen that the works from Hinog, at the Danube, were badly executed, so that their reception was postponed in order to make all necessary repairing. After their conclusion and the construction of the reservoirs from the station Dorobanţul, the city of Constanţa was supplied with water, 2,000 cubic meters, towards the end of 1914 [11]. At the same time, we mention from among the administrative measures, the drafting of the Regulation (1913) for the linking of the properties to the public canal and the execution of the drainage installations of the home water from inside the properties and the regulation for the water subscriptions made by engineer Letourneur, the chief of the service of the water supply [12].

The fire fighters service

In the first years of Romanian domination, the services of fire, cleaning and sanitation were reduced to three carts with three horses. In 1878 there were 20 fire fighters, fitted with few necessary materials, between which we mention a portable pump of 107 kilos. In order to prevent fires, the authorities moved outside the city the deposits of timber, hey stacks, steam mills etc. [13]. In 1886, mayor Panait Holban presented to the councillors the mode of solving the problem of supplying the water for ceasing the fires and for wetting the streets, for realising a reservoir on Elisabeta Boulevard, full with sea water with the pump from the Carol Hotel [14]. At the same time, it was intended to provide the service with modern machines, buying from the Knaust Company from Vienna, from the budget of 1888, a pump with its accessories. In 1896, the service of firefighters had 15 employees, 26 horses, 4 pumps and 13 water wagons. In 1901 there were 16 firefighters, and in 1911 the councilors approved the Regulation for the service of firefighters [15]. The firefighters occupied an old house, built from the Ottoman times, and since a new building, constructed by Vladimir Radef.

The sanitation

The streets were cleaned only in the lower part of the city, and the service of the thrash was almost absent. As most streets were not paved, and the dust was a constant, the streets were regularly wetted with water and residual oil. On 17 July 1886, the council of hygiene and sanitation drafted a regulation for the sanitation of the constructions. The city was divided into three circumscriptions, wanted to move the magazines of grain and wool outside the city. The regulation was voted in 1888, but the political disputes made it inapplicable. In 1895 the Regulation for the hygiene of inns and other locals which houses poor people at night was drafted. In May 1900 councillors drafted the Regulation for the cleaning of latrines, other modifications being introduced next year. They also drafted a Regulation for the gathering of garbage and wanted to introduce subscriptions for the collection of garbage, as it was the case by the Regulation for collecting the garbage from the courtyards and places of private owners, adopted in the Communal Council in March 1903, and modified in 1910 [16].

The sewage service

The beginnings of the sewage system date from the period of mayor of Ion Bănescu. The works intensified in 1907, being executed by the enterprise of engineers Cănănău and Pruncii for the sum of 600,000 lei. Engineer Zahariade, the director of the harbour, was entrusted with their conduct [17].


[1] Serviciul Judeţean Constanţa al Arhivelor Naţionale, Constanţa – mărturii documentare, vol. I, Regulamente ale administraţiei locale (1879–1949), edited by Virgil Coman and Constantin Cheramidoglu (Constanţa: Ex Ponto, 2012), 28; Cheramidoglu, “Rolul capitalului străin în dezvoltarea oraşului Constanţa (1878–1945)”, Analele Dobrogei, 5:2 (1999), 327–331.

[2] M. D. Ionescu, Dobrogia în pragul veacului al XX-lea (Bucharest: Atelierele Grafice I. V. Socecu, 1904), 88–89; Nicolina Mihail–Ursu, “Activitatea lui Ion Bănescu în contextul modernizării Constanţei”, in vol. Comunicări de istorie a Dobrogei (Constanţa: Muzeul de Istorie Naţională şi Arheologie, 1983), 155; Constantin Şerban, Victoria Şerban, “Începuturi de modernizare în oraşul Constanţa (1878–1900)”, Comunicări de istorie a Dobrogei (Constanţa: Muzeul de Istorie Naţională şi Arheologie, 1980), vol. I, 64.

[3] Petrică Miu, Dumitru Coiciu, Constanţa. Istoria transportului public (Constanţa: Editura Muntenia, 2010), 8.

[4]Ibid., 11–14.

[5]Ibid., 18–19.

[6]Ibid., 23–24.

[7]Ibid., 29–30.

[8]Constanţa – mărturii documentare, 25.

[9] M. D. Ionescu, Cercetări asupra oraşului Constanţa. Geografie şi istorie (Bucharest: Tipografia şi Fonderia de Litere Thoma Basilescu, 1897), 44–45; Mihail-Ursu, “Activitatea”, 155.

[10] Şerban, Şerban, “Începuturi”, 65–66. Also see Cheramidoglu, “Rolul”, 324–325.

[11] Ionescu, Cercetări, 86–88.

[12]Constanţa – mărturii documentare, 25–27.

[13] Şerban, Şerban, “Începuturi”, 64.

[14] Cheramidoglu, “Salubritatea oraşului”, Poliţia impact, February 2010, 19.

[15]Constanţa – mărturii documentare, 34–35.

[16]Ibid., 31, 145–149.

[17] Ionescu, Cercetări, 91–92.


Archival sources:

Serviciul Judeţean Constanţa al Arhivelor Naţionale (The National Archives, Constanţa Branch), Primăria municipiului Constanţa (The Municipality of Constanţa), files starting with 1878.


Arhivele Naționale. Serviciul Județean Constanța, Constanța – mărturii documentare. Regulamente ale administrației locale (1879–1949) [Constanţa – Documentary Evidences. Regulations of the Local Administration], edited by Virgil Coman and Constantin Cheramidoglu), vol. I (Constanța: Ex Ponto, 2012).

Cheramidoglu, Constantin, “Rolul capitalului străin în dezvoltarea oraşului Constanţa (1878–1945)” [The Role of Foreign Capital in the Development of the City of Constanţa], Analele Dobrogei, 5:2 (1999), 321–334.

Cheramidoglu, Constantin, “Salubritatea oraşului” [The Sanitation of the City], Poliţia impact, February 2010, 19–20.

Ionescu, M. D., Dobrogia în pragul veacului al XX-lea [Dobrudja at the Beginning of the 20th Century] (Bucharest: Atelierele Grafice I. V. Socecu, 1904).

Ionescu, M. D., Cercetări asupra oraşului Constanţa. Geografie şi istorie [Researches on the City of Constanţa. Geography and History] (Bucharest: Tipografia şi Fonderia de Litere Thoma Basilescu, 1897).

Mihail–Ursu, Nicolina, “Activitatea lui Ion Bănescu în contextul modernizării Constanţei” [The Activity of Ion Bănescu in the Context of the Modernisation of Constanţa], in vol. Comunicări de istorie a Dobrogei [Papers on the History of Dobrudja] (Constanţa: Muzeul de Istorie Naţională şi Arheologie, 1983), 151–158.

Miu, Petrică, Coiciu, Dumitru, Constanţa. Istoria transportului public [Constanţa. The History of Public Transportation] (Constanţa: Editura Muntenia, 2010).

Şerban, Constantin, Şerban, Victoria, “Începuturi de modernizare în oraşul Constanţa (1878–1900)” [Beginnings of Modernisation in Constanţa City (1878–1900)], Comunicări de istorie a Dobrogei [Papers on the History of Dobrudja] (Constanţa: Muzeul de Istorie Naţională şi Arheologie, 1980), vol. I, 57–70.