The first statute regulating industry was approved by Hungary’s Parliament shortly before the unification of the city in 1872.
It was a timely move, as besides the appearance of smaller manufacturers, more and more large factories were being opened by industrial conglomerates.
Until the 1860s, the food industry, in particular spirits production, was the most significant in the area. The distilleries’ boilers produced more and more steam at ever-higher pressure, and over time the cauldrons were built on top of each other to create massive distillation equipment for large-scale production. One of the most famous distilleries was established by the Zwack family, which became one of the most significant producers in Central Europe by the second half of the 19th century. Its products were sold worldwide, including a special liqueur called Unicum, which is still widely popular. You can learn more about the family and the distillery at the Zwack Museum at the company’s site on Soroksári Road.
Budapest’s 10th District, Kőbánya, played a prominent role in food and beer production. Had the phylloxera insect pest, which spread to Hungary from the Americas in 1874, not destroyed the area’s grapes, it may well have continued to produce wine. Since large quantities of limestone mined from the Old Hill were used to construct the city’s boulevards, the cool cavities left behind provided the perfect environment for storing beer. Entrepreneurs seeing the potential decided to set up breweries in the district. Over time, large-scale production also developed. A handful of large breweries vied for supremacy, a struggle which was won in the end by an Austrian family: by the 1870s, the Dreher family owned the largest brewery in Hungary. The founder’s son, Antal Dreher, introduced bottom-fermented beer technology, and also developed a type of beer called lagerbier. The Dreher Brewery Memorial Museum provides a wealth of information about the history of the industry.
While milling had a long tradition in the country, in the 19th century it quickly became a leading industry. Mills driven by waterways or animals were replaced by steam-driven mills, and joint-stock milling companies were funded. At the turn of the century, Budapest was the largest milling centre in Europe and second only to Minneapolis across the globe.
The production of modern mill equipment and the development of transportation and the country’s railway network set heavy industry on a new course as well. For instance, the Buda iron foundry, established by Ábrahám Ganz (currently the Foundry Museum), became one of the most important conglomerates of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by the time Budapest was unified. The single-phase transformer developed there drew world-wide acclaim for Ganz. MÁVAG, the machinery factory of Hungarian Royal State Railway, produced its first steam locomotive in 1873, the year Budapest came together.
The Óbuda Shipyard, established earlier, also continued to grow and develop, and over time began to function as a city within the city: it had its own kindergarten, school, hospital, health insurance system, telephone network, fire brigade, library and cultural institutions. Hajógyári Island, the former location of the shipyard, is now a popular hiking destination. It is also the location of the annual Sziget Festival, one of the largest pop music and cultural festivals in Europe, held annually at the end of the summer.
The Alrite speech recognation (speech-to-text) program helped to write the publication.
Photo: Spirits production (source: Fortepan / Gyula Anders)
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