Piraeus in Modern History (Ι): 1832 to 1940

In 1832 – 11 years after the beginning of the Greek Independence War – the state of Greece is founded. Piraeus becomes a municipality in 1833, its first Mayor being Stefanos Skouloudis. In the years to come, Piraeus is being gradually transformed from the empty village it used to be to a developing city.

Piraeus sees its population growing: in 1842, 210 families lived in Piraeus, while within 30 years the population of the city is more than 20,000. In the mid and late 19th century, the city of Piraeus is being gradually electrified, while huge construction projects are in progress, the Municipal Theater of Piraeus and the famous Clock Tower being the most prominent.

The Clock Tower

The Clock of PiraeusBuilt within 1869 and 1873, the Clock Tower was an exquisite piece of architecture, constituting one of the most prominent landmarks in the city of Piraeus. In 1869, the Mayor of Piraeus, Dimitrios Moutzopoulos has the famous Clock installed in the Tower at his own expenses.

Originally meant to be the Stock Exchange Building, the Clock Tower housed the City Hall of Piraeus for more than 80 years, until 1964. In 1968, during the seven-year dictatorship in Greece, Ar. Skylitisis, Mayor of Piraeus at the time, will proceed to the demolition of the majestic building, in an effort to “modernize Piraeus”!

The Industries

In the late 19th and early 20th century, many are the industries that are being founded within the area of Piraeus, signaling the beginning of an era of economic growth and expansion of the population.

Vassiliadis’ Shipyards, Zavoyannis-Zamanos’ Cement Industry (today part of the Lafarge Group) and the Chemical and Fertilizer Factory were the three first and biggest industries operating at the time.

Silo

Silo in Piraeus PortIn 1937 Piraeus’ Silo installations are being inaugurated. Located on the Ietionia Coast, Piraeus’ Silo was a huge construction – the biggest in Piraeus at the time with its facilities allowing huge quantities of cereal to be loaded and unloaded from cargo ships.

It’s only normal to presume that Silo was a big step in Piraeus’ economic growth, as it revolutionized the function of the port and forever changed its image.

During World War II, the Port of Piraeus was a constant target of bombardments. After WWII, the biggest part of all the port’s installations and facilities was destroyed. In the years that followed the port and the Silo facilities were reconstructed.

Today, within a project aiming at upgrading this side of the port and highlighting the historical importance of the Ietionia Coast, Silo Building is going to house the Marine Antiquities Museum, a museum unique in the Mediterranean.

World War I – The Asia Minor Catastrophe

Refugees in Piraeus, after Asia-Minor CatastropheGreece, already torn by innumerable internal political and social crises, will eventually join the Entente Forces and enter World War I in 1917. Following a series of political and military intrigues, the Port of Piraeus will be submitted to the French Forces within the years 1916 and 1917.

In August 1922, the Asia Minor Catastrophe, a deep wound in Greece’s 20th century history, took place and 1,500.000 Greeks living in Asia Minor came to Greece as refugees (Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1923). Piraeus receives 130,000 refugees and sees its population skyrocketing while the urban landscape will forever change.

Piraeus in Modern History (Ι): 1832 to 1940
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