The article was intended to reconsider Riga city plans as well as projects to follow the ideas, inspirations, proposals and conditions that became the basis of the city planning in the second half of the 19th century. The chronological frame of the period under scrutiny is set up by the Riga plans prepared in 1843 and 1864. The situation in urban planning changed significantly over twenty years but some restrictions remained in place. On 2 March 1856 the Riga City Council got an official permission from St. Petersburg to pull down Riga fortifications. The Organising Commission of Fortification Removal worked out a theoretical programme oriented towards fostering of commerce, trade increase in the port and transformation of the fortification moat into a canal with free-standing public buildings. This strategy is examined in the context of European urban planning solutions. Historical plans and archival materials testify to an orientation towards Northern German experience. Riga city architect Johann Daniel Felsko with his assistant, civil engineer Otto Dietze worked out the technical project till 4 January 1857. It envisaged a glass-covered shopping passage by the River Daugava, as well as public buildings in the place of former bastions and ravelins opposite the St. Petersburg suburb but a district of trade and warehouses of regular layout was to be built in the South-East of the city (opposite the Moscow suburb) behind the canal, standing between the Railway Station and the River Daugava. Felsko and Dietze expected six years and 1,5 million roubles being necessary to realise these works. Because of bureaucratic formalities and scarcity of financial resources still other projects were designed (1858, 1860, 1862) that clearly manifested a wish to reduce costs, carry out just the most indispensable removal of fortifications and retain as much as possible the existing embankment line of the fortification moat. Most ardent discussions and opinion shifts were related to the layout of port basin near the warehouse district that finally did not appear in the initially planned volume. Riga city fortifications were abolished from 15 November 1857 till 31 December 1863.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.