The City Park (The Vrchlický Park)

Helena Tomanová-Weisová

The City Park, later named the Vrchlický Park was founded a few years after the Franz Joseph Railway Station had been built in the location of former city walls. The park would have possibly lasted more than a hundred years, but it fell victim to modern technology. A new Prague underground line was built next to the main station, and the park changed into a nameless crossroads. Only a remaining part of the old promenade and the memorial plaque of the scientist Presl have witnessed the era when this park was visited by two generations of German-language Prague-based writers. What they called “Stadtpark” continues to live in E. E. Kisch’s Die Abenteuer in Prag [The Prague Adventures], Werfel’s Stern der Ungeborenen [The Star of the Unborn] and Brod’s Streitbares Leben [The life of Struggles]. It also became an impressive location in Hermann Grab’s Der Stadtpark [The City Park], a fragile, gently written story of a lonely boy’s first love in the First World War era.

The City Park stretched from the upper bloc of the Wenceslas Square to the Senovážné Square as a lush green area with the view of the Neues Deutsches Theater building (now the State Opera) and the railway station that bore the name of an Austrian emperor and a US president until it finally settled with the modest name of the “Main Station”. The view has changed, and the nostalgic beauty of the century’s turn with its promenades, its flower parterre and its pond fed by an artificial waterfall on a rocky background with a lone swan circling on the surface can only be found in literature. (…)

This excerpt is from the book Setkání v Praze / Begegnungen in Prag [Meetings in Prague] published in 1996. In short Czech and German stories, the writer tells her memories of notable personalities of the interwar German-speaking Prague.

Source: Helena Tomanová-Weisová. Setkání v Praze = Begegnungen in Prag. Praha: Argo, 1996, s. 10.

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