Odonymist as a Key to the City
Odonymist (named “uličník” in Czech) is a genre of urban history or historical topography, it is an encyclopaedia dedicated to the naming of streets and other public spaces in the city and its changes over time. In general, the odonymist is an important tool for professionals and educated laymen with an interest in the history of a particular city, and as such, it has been in some form developed by most cities in the Czech Republic.
Usually, odonymists are constructed as an alphabetical encyclopaedia or as a practical tourist guide along defined routes. Their goal can be twofold: to explain the origin of the name itself, or to describe the history of a particular street or square. Within the Zlín Architectural Manual and other architectural manuals, the odonymist is a "key" that "unlocks" one of the basic angles of view of the city's history. It maps its growth and changes in space, ie the reaction of the development of a particular city to individual historical epochs.
The naming of streets, squares and other public spaces is based on the very human need to be in the city, to feel at home in it and, most importantly, to navigate in it. But the names are also a reflection of a specific time: they reflect the values and preferences of a given society, reflect the political situation in the state and at the same time reveal a lot about people from different periods in a particular city. They reflect the dominant views of the city as well as the active public. Last but not least, they fix traditional toponyms and extinct place names, which recall the already extinct character of a particular place. This is a rather significant feature in the case of Zlín, given its rapid development in the 20th century.
Formally, an odonymist can take various forms: it can be a strict list, an interactive database available online, an article in a professional journal, or a comprehensive explanation published in a book. In that case, it becomes a beautiful object and an indispensable guide in the library. In Zlín they are available in several forms: a study published in 1986 in the magazine “Gottwaldovsko od minulosti k současnosti” (The Gottwaldov region from the past to the present): The anthology of the District Archive in Gottwaldov , the work of Eduard Staša “Kapitolky ze starého Zlína (Chapters from Old Zlín)” , and in the form of a table in the Historical Atlas of the Czech Republic, in the volume dedicated to Zlín . The city of Zlín is the most significant testimony in the present-day Czech Republic of how important the names of places and cities themselves are for specific social arrangements and regimes. From January 1, 1949 to January 1, 1990, the city was called Gottwaldov. A statue of Klement Gottwald (1961, Zdeněk Krybus, Miloš Zet), a man who had very little in common with the city, was placed in the vicinity of the Prior department store, on the edge of náměstí Práce, with a view of the factory and its landmark, the Building no. 21.
The "first workers' president" was supposed to adapt the cult of labour established as one of the pillars of the ideology of Baťa's Zlín into an internationally-shared and Soviet-controlled cult of socialist labour. This ideology was, as in other cities, supported by the renaming of important streets and public spaces - Gottwald's statue stood on náměstí Rudé Armády (Red Army Square), formerly náměstí T.G. Masaryka, the main street of the Letná district was renamed Marxova (formerly Mostní), the main thoroughfare in the east Revoluční (formerly třída Tomáše Bati) and Leninova (originally Štefánikova). There were also Murzinova (Dlouhá), Zdeňka Nejedlého (Zálešná I), Úderníků (western part of třída T. Bati), 25. února (Rašínova), nábřeží Pionýrů (Benešovo nábřeží), Lidových milicí (Sokolská), and the Julius Fučík neighbourhood (Obeciny). The names of newly-created streets (Budovatelská, SNB, SNP) were chosen in a similar way. Some streets were named after local communist party leaders, World War II resistance fighters, or left-wing intellectuals and artists from the region, like the streets M. Knesla, Dr. Kolaříka, Lorencova, and A. Randýskové. On the other hand, ideologically neutral names are typical of interwar Zlín, which are based on place names and in their multiplication - provisioning with serial numbers – which reflects American patterns and also prefabrication and serial production applied in construction: Nad Ovčírnou I – VI, Zálešná I – XII, Podvesná I – XVII, Díly I – VI, etc. This traditional Zlín treatment of toponyms shows continuity to the present (Na Honech, Rybníky, Podlesí).
There was a turnaround in 1932 after the sudden death of Tomáš Baťa, when the cult of the "founding father" began to form. Among other things, the main, modern street running from west to east throughout the city was named after him. Other personalities of the interwar period of Zlín's history, Jan Antonín Baťa, Dominik Čipera, and František L. Gahura, had their streets named after them at the turn of the millennium. Thus, through street names, Zlín also asserts its allegiance to personalities connected with the "Baťa period", which is the most significant part of its identity to this day. The names of Zlín's streets were first officially fixed in 1887. In 1925, another thirty-five were added to the original eighteen streets in today's city centre, and another twenty-eight six years later. These figures reflect the dynamic development of the city, which began in the 1920s. An even more significant testimony to the rapid construction of the city is the fact that until the end of the 1930s, the new streets were being named continuously.
During the Protectorate, for example, the main square was renamed Hauptplatz, Štefánikova changed into Dr-Fritz-Todt-Strasse after the Nazi Minister of the Armaments Industry, but třída Tomáše Bati kept its name. German toponyms were abolished in May and June 1945. After 1948, when, unlike most cities in Czechoslovakia, building development did not stop, the naming of new streets was under the political pressure of communist ideology. These tendentious toponyms were gradually removed in 1990–1993, when the last major street renaming took place. The original names were returned to the streets in the city centre: Benešovo nábřeží (nábřeží Pionýrů), třída Tomáše Bati (Revoluční and Úderníků), Štefánikova (Leninova), Rašínova (25. února), Dlouhá (Murzinova); and streets in residential areas: Mostní (Marxova), Obeciny (Julia Fučík). Important thoroughfares Okružní (SNB) and Sokolská (People's Militia) were renamed; and streets in new housing developments, eg in the Jižní Svahy neighbourhood: Česká (Voroněžská), Moravská (Kyjevská) and Slezská (Jaselská).