Polytechnic Society

ID: 114

Founded in 1876, functioned until 1939 (from 1913 known as the Polish Polytechnic Society) — the first and leading non-governmental organization of technical professionals in the crownland of Galicia. Combined the characteristics of a trade union and a scientific society. Responsible for the founding of the Industrial Museum in Lviv, the introduction to the city of electricity and the sewerage system, etc.



After the Spring of Nations in 1848, as absolute monarchies were undergoing democratization, an increasing number of trade unions and civic organizations were founded. Already that year, the first Association of Engineers and Architects in the Austrian Empire appeared in Vienna.

In Lviv, both students and professors began to formally unite in the 1860s. At first, several professors of the Technical Academy met at the premises of its director, Aleksander Reisinger. In 1866, they approved the charter — Statuten des technischen Vereins in Lemberg, and then issued the first publications on the topics of their scientific work. The question arose whether to become public and spread technology and science knowledge outside the narrow professional environment or to remain a closed scientific society. For a short time, the professors gave lectures to a wide audience at the Lviv City Hall, but soon their activities stopped until the society was officially dissolved.


In 1876, the young graduates of the academy joined the Society of Alumni Technical Professionals (Towarzystwo ukończonych techników). They chose a name inspired by the Viennese Verein ehemaliger Politechniker, because the name "Technical Society" was already used (Dźwignia, 1877, Nr. 1, 1). The new society sought to unite with the old one. Its first charter, modeled on the one of the Viennese Association of Engineers and Architects, was approved on February 28, 1877 (Grzębski, 1902, 10). In 1877, at the same time as the Technical Academy's buildings were opened and as it was renamed the Higher Technical School, its first session took place and its first specialized technical magazine Dźwignia ("Lever," from 1883 — Czasopismo techniczne, "Technical Journal") was published. In 1878, after the society under the leadership of Reisinger was dissolved and the leftover funds were transferred to them, they changed their name to the Polytechnic Society (Towarzystwo politechniczne).

Already by 1879, there were about 500 members, who, according to the charter, could be graduates of higher technical educational institutions regardless of their ethnic origin or place of residence and could be specialists in any technical field (engineering, architecture, chemistry, machine building, etc.)  Although the society was independent of the Polytechnic, many of its members were current professors and the majority were graduates of the institution. Formally, no ethnicity was preferred, but their publication Dźwignia captures from the outset the dominant Polish character of the society, which published, for example, the following lines in its first issue: 

"O! Kraino polska, żeby ci Polacy
Co giną za Ciebie, wzieli się do pracy,
I po garstce ziemi z Ojczyzny zabrali,
Wnet by dłońmi nową Polska usypali".

"O! Polish land, if those Poles / Who perish for You, went to work / And took a handful of soil from the homeland / Then from their palms they would heap together a new Poland" (Dźwignia, 1877, Nr. 1, p. 2). This is a fragment of a poem from the collection "Songs of Janusz" by Wincenty Pol, a Polish national poet, written during the November Uprising of 1830-31, published in Paris.

Founders: architects Bronisław Bauer, Ivan Levynskyi, Antony Łukasiewicz, Antony Świątkowski; surveyors Józef Chowaniec and Michał Gołeiko; railway engineers Karol Edward Eppler, Bołesław Mustianowicz, Jan Oziębłowski, Karol Pauli, Paweł Stwiertnia, Michał Warteresiewicz, Rudolf Weinert, Adolf Wieżejski, Stanisław Zajączkowski, professors Wiktor Froń, Stefan Kakowski, Władysław Kłapkowski, Piotr Manasterski, Karol Maszkowski.

According to the first charter, the goals of the society were to bring together graduates of technical specialties (exclusively with higher education) and help them to find employment, maintain their social status, hold scientific meetings and exchange ideas, organize technical competitions, pay for international technical journals, and publish their own literature. New charters were adopted in 1893 and 1896, which changed the management, and added support of the regional industry to the goals of the society (Pamiętnik jubileuszowy, 1902, 15-16). More fundamental changes were made with the charter of the renamed Polish Polytechnic Society in 1913. Then, when tensions in the society heightened between the Ukrainian and Polish political movements, the Ukrainian members founded a separate Ukrainian Technical Society, headed by the chemist and UNDP politician Roman Zalozetskyi.

The first public lecture by the Polytechnic Society was "On the Force of Resistance During Train Movement" on November 14, 1877, by the head of the society, Baron Roman Gostkowski. Over the next two months, three more lectures were given, and it was planned to hold them weekly. About twenty lectures were given annually, and they were regularly reported on by Dźwignia and Czasopismo techniczne. Some of the lectures were published in abridged versions and some in full; some of them were also reported on by the daily press. Discussing one topic could take several evenings. At first lectures were held in a small hall of the Technical Academy on Virmenska Street, and later in their "own, large, clearly illuminated with electric light hall" of the new main building of the Higher Technical School. The lectures were about the lector's own research or practical experience, analyses of other countries' experiences, for example in installing plumbing or constructing affordable housing for workers, the situation of the regional industry, "urban affairs" in which technical professionals should participate, economics, etc., and travel reports, for example, Kazimierz Czarliński's report about the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Subsequently, technical professionals gave public and educational lectures not only in Lviv; the idea of ​​establishing a "People's Polytechnic" was discussed, apparently similar to the Mickiewicz People's University where members of the Polytechnic Society also lectured.

As early as 1878, the society presented the Provincial Department with a proposal to recruit technical professionals to the service to which they were being refused, citing the absence of such a need (Dźwignia, 1878, Nr. 7, 49), and soon the Department (and city authorities) began ordering expert opinions to the society themselves on various issues concerning the development of industry. The members joined specialized committees to review the inventions and designs of their colleagues, subjected technical, including chemical, analyses of local building materials, and this was the basis on which the ceramic and petroleum (1886) and technical-mechanical (1901) research laboratories (stacje doświadczalne) were established at the Polytechnic, funded by the Provincial Department, which promoted quality regional materials and products. The society supported its members who ran for local government. And so many engineers became city council members, such as Artur Schleyen, Bronisław Pawlewski, Hipolit Śliwiński, Placyd Dziwiński, Wincenty Rawski, and others. At the same time, they were part of the sections of the city council. Already in 1879 there were engineering and architectural commissions, founded by the efforts of Julian Zachariewicz; later commissions for the supervision of municipal institutions, including the power plant, gas plant, various industrial or educational institutions, were established. In this way, the engineers had an expert and civic influence on what was happening in the city and the region.


The Polytechnic Society in Lviv rejected the offer of the Viennese Association of Architects and Engineers to become their branch. From the very beginning (1876-1877), it included not only Lviv technical professionals but also those from industrial cities and towns in both Eastern and Western Galicia. In 1902, branches of the Polytechnic Society opened in Stanisławów (present-day Ivano-Frankivsk), Przemyśl, Stryi, in 1903 in Boryslav, in 1912 in Nowy Sącz, in 1913 in Tarnów. In particular, they became small local centers of technical professionals, and some representatives of the society were located in other, mostly regional cities (Polskie Towarzystwo Politechniczne, 1927, 80-84).

The society cooperated with various Lviv organizations, first of all, with the Building Society and the Galician Chamber of Engineers, as well as the Doctors Society, the Copernicus Scientific Society, Support for Polish Science, the Polish Pedagogical Society, the Anthropological Society, the Rescue Society, the Development and Decoration Society. Within the Habsburg Monarchy, it cooperated with the technical societies and clubs of Prague, Trieste, Zagreb, Linz, Innsbruck, and others, with the Polish the technical societies of Poznań and Warsaw (then part of the German and Russian Empires), and corresponded or exchanged publications with the Institute of Civil Engineers in London, the Society of Architects of Amsterdam, and the Technical Professionals and Industrialists of Paris.


The Lviv society initiated the first Congress of Engineers and Architects (Ingenieur und Architekten Tag) in Cisleithania. Organized by the Association of Engineers and Architects in Vienna, it was held in the capital in October 1880. The main topic of discussion at the conventions, as well as at later ones, was the social and political standing of the technical specialist, which covered such issues as state examinations, doctoral studies in technical disciplines, obtaining the right to vote for technical professionals, the status of technical professional in public service, and conditions for licensing technical activities. The second major topic was education, in particular, the reform of secondary education (real schools and gymnasiums). This first congress was attended by 15 technical societies from the empire, with about 200 participants, including representatives from abroad; from Lviv the event was attended by Roman Gostkowski, Pawel Stwiertnia, and Professor Julian Zachariewicz.

In the future, the Lviv Society (co)organized the Congress of Polish Technical Professionals. The first was in September 1882 in Krakow, the second in October 1886 in Lviv, the third in July 1894 during the General Regional Exhibition in Lviv, the fourth in September 1899 in Krakow, the fifth in September 1910, the sixth in September 1912 in Krakow. The congresses were attended primarily by Polish engineers from the three parts of divided Poland, but also by foreigners.

Consolidating with engineers from different cities and organizations, the society lobbied the interests of technical professionals in the State Council (Reichsrat), in particular, through members of the Polish Club. A striking example was the assertion of the rights of architects and builders with a higher (academic) education, who, due to the Industrial Law of 1883 (Gewerbegesetz), found themselves in an inconvenient position, as craftsmen (carpenters, masons) with a secondary education received the same rights to conduct construction and even more than the builders-engineers who would be in charge of the craftsmen. This topic sparked a controversy in the professional environment and was discussed in the State Council, but it was not resolved.

Exhibitions and Competitions

The Polytechnic Society played a key role in holding the 1887 Regional Exhibition in Krakow and the 1894 General Regional Exhibition in Lviv. An important achievement was the organization of the 1892 Industrial Exhibition. In addition, smaller ones, such as the Hygienic-Medical and Didactic-Natural Sciences, took place in 1888 on the premises of a real school in Lviv, together with the Society of Doctors and others. In 1895 and 1902, the society organized art exhibitions of works by architect Edgar Kováts (who since 1901 was a professor at the Higher Technical School) and exhibitions of works by Polish architects in 1910. In 1902, an exhibition to mark the 25th anniversary of the society was held, where they exhibited their own achievements, works, and inventions.

The society co-organized competitions, such as architectural ones for landmark buildings in the city, which were to be constructed with budgetary funds: the Galician Savings Bank, the Great City Theater, the Railway Directorate, and many others.


First, in 1876-1877, meetings were held in the office of Professor of Mathematics Karol Maszkowski in the building of the Technical Academy on Virmenska Street, and then in the apartment of the secretary of the society Adolf Markl on Tekhnichna Street (1877), closer to the new buildings of the academy.

Like most organizations of the time, the society continued to rent premises and move frequently. In 1877-1878 it was housed in an apartment on Kopernyka, 14; in 1878-1884 on Valova, 4; in 1884-1889 on a whole floor on Linde, 9 (today Ferentsa Lista, 9); and in 1889-1898 on Rynok Square, 30, where the second floor of the building was shared with the Building Society. In 1898-1902 a large room was rented in Khoroshchyzny, 17 (now Chaikovskoho) in the so-called. an "oil house" owned by oil businessmen Wacław Wolski and Kazimierz Odrzywolski. In 1892 began discussions and fundraising for their own building, which opened in 1907 on Zimorovycha Street (today Dudayeva), 9. It combined both offices and a library for the daily work of the members of the society, as well as an assembly hall for events.

Logo / Symbolism

In 1896, a competition was held for metal badges for members of the Polytechnic Society, which was won by architect Jan Tarczalowicz. Later on, his design was used as a logo — for example, on publications for the society's anniversary (the 25th anniversary in 1902) and on the facade of the society's own building. The logo consists of objects that symbolize the work of engineers: compasses and triangles, which are indispensable attributes of any draftsman, as well as hammers, a metal wheel, capitals of the Ionian column (architecture), and a palm branch (symbol of victory). In the center there is an abbreviation — the letters T, P, L, encircled by the full name "Towarzystwo Politechniczne Lwowskie." After the renaming of the society in 1913, the logo was not changed, only the letters were replaced by PTP, the two Ps mirroring one another, and the old name was replaced with the new one: Polskie "Towarzystwo Politechniczne."

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The Polytechnic Society's own building (1907-1939)

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Vul. Bandery, 12 – Lviv Polytechnic National University main building

From 1877 till 1907 the Polytechnic Society organized its events here, in a hall of the Higher Technical School

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Vul. Valova, 04 – residential building

The Polytechnic Society rented premises in this building

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Pl. Rynok, 30 – former Reguliovska/ Regułowska townhouse

In 1889-1898 the Polytechnic Society rented the second floor here together with the Society of Builders

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Vul. Virmenska, 2 – former Technical Academy's building

First meetings of the Polytechnic Society in 1876-1877 took place here


Former house on vul. Tekhnichna

In 1877, the Polytechnic Society's meetings took place in its secretary's Adolf Markl apartment on Techniczna street, the building does not exist today


Vul. Kopernyka, 14 – residential building

In 1877/1878 the Polytechnic Society met in a rented apartment of the previous building on vul. Kopernika, 14


Vul. Lista, 9 – residential building

In 1884-1889, in the previous building on this place, the Polytechnic Society rented a floor


Vul. Chaikovskoho, 17 – former "Oil Building"

The Polytechnic Society rented premises here in 1898-1906


Aleksander Ritter von Reisinger1816-1887 — a scientist, chemist, director of the Technical Institute in Vienna, later director of the Technical Academy in Lviv, member of the technical society (1860s-1870s)
Jan Lewiński1851-1919 — architect and entrepreneur in Lviv, one of the founders of the Polytechnic Society 
Roman Gostkowski, 1837-1912 — baron, scientist specializing in railways, first Head of the Polytechnic Society, professor of the Higher Technical School in Lviv
Julian Ritter von Lwigrod Zachariewicz1837-1898 — architect, professor of the Higher Technical School in Lviv, rector, member of the State Council in Vienna (Polish Club), Polytechnic Society member
Zacharias Herrmann / cz. Zachariáš Herrmann1834-1896 — Czech architect and politician, State Council member (Liberal Club)
Karol Maszkowski1831-1886 — mathematician, professor of the Technical Academy and Higher Technical School on Lviv, one of the founders of the Polytechnic Society
Jan Tarczałowicz — architect, inspector of the Regional Education Council, designer of the Polytechnic Society's logo (1896), member of the Polytechnic Society 



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By Olha Zarechnyuk, 2019