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History of Stettin (Szczecin)

The history of Stettin as told in out-of-print vintage guidebooks in our archive.

Excerpt from Baedeker's Guide to Northern Germany 1913

Stettin, the capital of the province of Pomerania and the headquarters of the 2nd Army Corps, with 236,000 inhabitants, including a garrison of 5,000 soldiers, originally belonged to the Dukes of Pomerania, who became extinct in 1637 then to Sweden from 1648 to 1720, and has since been Prussian. It is a commercial and manufacturing town of great importance, situated on both banks of the River Oder, the principal part being on the left bank (Altstadt, Neustadt, and newer suburbs), while on the right bank lie the quarters which were formerly the suburbs of Lastadie and Silberwiese.

The Oder at Stettin is sufficiently deep (23 ft.) for vessels of substantial size, and the town possesses a considerable fleet of sea-going craft and river steamboats. The chief exports are sugar, corn, lumber, cement, and spirits. The chief imports coal, iron ore, petroleum, paving stones, French wines, and herrings. Stettin is also the most important manufacturing place in Pomerania, the staple products being sugar, spirits, ships, machines, and fireproof bricks. On the right bank of the river Oder is the Free Harbour, 150 acres in extent, constructed between 1893 and 1898.

Except from an entry on Stettin in a British Encyclopedia from 1914

STETTIN, a seaport of Germany, capital of the Prussian province of Pomerania, on the Oder, 30 miles from the Baltic, 83 miles North East of Berlin by rail, and at the junction of lines to Stargard-Danzig and Kustrin-Breslau. The population in 1905 including incorporated suburbs was 224,198. The main part of the town occupies a hilly site on the left bank of the river, and is connected by four bridges, including a massive railway swing-bridge, with the suburbs of Lastadie ("landing place" from lastadium) and Silberwiese, on an island. Until 1874 Stettin was closely enclosed by very extensive and strong fortifications, which prevented the expansion of the town, but the steady growth of its commerce and manufactures encouraged the foundation of numerous industrial suburbs beyond the line of defence and these now combine with Stettin to form one industrial and commercial centre. Since the removal of the fortifications their site has been built upon. Apart from its commerce Stettin is comparatively an uninteresting city, although its appearance, owing to its numerous promenades and open spaces, is very pleasant. Among its nine Evangelical churches that of St Peter, founded in 1124 and restored in 1817, has the distinction of being the oldest Christian church in Pomerania. Both this and the church of St James, dating from the 14th century, are remarkable for their size. Three of the Evangelical churches are fine new buildings, and there are also churches belonging to the Roman Catholics and other religious bodies. The old palace, now used as public offices, is a large but unattractive edifice, scarcely justifying the boast of an old writer that it did not yield in magnificence even to the palaces of Italy. Among the modern buildings are the theatre, the barracks, a large hospital, the new town-hall, superseding a building of the 13th century, and the new government buildings. Statues of Frederick the Great, of Frederick William III. and of Emperor William I. adorn two of the fine squares, the Koenigsplatz and the Kaiser Wilhelmsplatz. Other squares are the Paradeplatz, and the Rathausplatz with a beautiful fountain. Two gateways, the Konigstor and the Berliner Tor, remains of the old fortifications, are still standing. As a prosperous commerical town Stettin has numerous scientific, educational and benevolent institutions.

Stettin, regarded as the port of Berlin, is one of the principal ship-building centres of Germany and a place of much commercial and industrial activity. The foremost place in its chief industry, ship-building, is taken by the Vulcan yard, which builds warships for the German navy. The business was begun in 1851 and now employs about 8000 hands, the works extending over 70 acres. In 1897 a floating dock was fitted up capable of holding vessels of 12,000 tons. Locomotives, boilers and machinery of all kinds are made in other great establishments. Other industries are the manufacture of clothing, cement, bricks, motor-cars, soap, paper, beer, sugar, spirits and cycles. Most of the mills and factories are situated in the suburbs, chiefly Grabow and Bredow. The sea-borne commerce of Stettin is of scarcely less importance than her industry and a larger number of vessels enter and clear here than at any other German port, except Hamburg and Bremerhaven. Swinemunde serves as its outer port. Its principal exports are chemicals, grain, wood, spirits, sugar, herrings and coal, and its imports are iron ore, chemicals, grain, petroleum and coal. A great impulse to its trade was given by the opening of a free harbour in 1898 on the east bank of the river Oder. With the aim of still further increasing the commercial importance of Stettin, it is proposed to construct a ship canal giving Stettin direct communication with Berlin. A feature in the mercantile life of Stettin is the large number of insurance companies which have their headquarters in Stettin.

Stettin is said to have existed as a Wendish settlement in the 9th century, but its first authentic appearance in history was in the 12th century, when it was known as Stedyn. From the beginning of the 12th century to 1637 it was the residence of the dukes of Pomerania, one of whom, gave it municipal rights in 1243. Already a leading centre of trade it entered the Hanseatic League in 1360. The Pomeranian dynasty became extinct in 1637, when the country was suffering from the ravages of the Thirty Years' War, and by the settlement of 1648 Stettin, the fortifications of which had been improved by Gustavus Adolphus, was ceded to Sweden. In 1678 it was taken from Sweden by Frederick William, elector of Brandenburg, but it was restored in 1679, only, however, to be ceded to Prussia in 1720 by the peace of Stockholm. It was fortified more strongly by Frederick the Great, but in 1806 it yielded to Napoleon without any resistance and was held by the French until 1813. Stettin was the birthplace of the empress Catherine II of Russia.

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  Follow the links below to view what else we currently have online in our Szczecin / Stettin digital archive. We scan and digitize more of the images in our Szczecin archive and photograph more of the city on a regular basis. Please come back soon to see more of old Stettin and modern Szczecin.  
 

Old pre-1945 Pictures of Stettin in Pommern / West Pomerania

Images of other towns in Pommern / Western Pomerania


Read something of the history of Stettin / Szczecin

Map of Szczecin and old maps of Stettin and Western Pomerania

Contemporary photographs of the city of Szczecin as it looks today

Contact the iSzczecin website.


An online archive of Stettin in Pommern (Pomerania) Germany and Szczecin, Zachodniopomorskie, Poland

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