New streets in Prague’s Smíchov City will honor Madeleine Albright and Toyen

Smíchov City will have streets named for women who promoted democracy for artists who made significant cultural contributions.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 25.08.2022 17:59:00 (updated on 25.08.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

Several new streets in planned Smíchov City will be named for women who made significant contributions to the arts and politics.

The main pedestrian boulevard that will run through the 20-hectare residential and commercial complex will be named for Madeleine Albright, the U.S. secretary of state who had Czech roots.

Others to be honored with streets include the artist Toyen, art collector Meda Mládková, as well as several dissidents and early feminists. Not all of the streets will be named for women. Authors Josef Škvorecký and František Langer will also be remembered.

Developer Sekyra Group is turning a former industrial freight station into a new neighborhood where 12,000 people will live and work. This will require the creation of streets where they didn’t previously exist.

Sekyra Group’s proposal for names has already been approved by the Prague City Council's local planning commission. They still have several more bureaucratic steps before becoming final, but so far there has been no notable opposition. The Prague 5 City Council, headed by Mayor Renata Zajíčková, is in favor of the names.

Visualization of Smíchov City / via Sekyra Group
Visualization of Smíchov City / via Sekyra Group

"Smíchov City is the largest urban development in central Prague since the construction of Vinohrady. More than 30 domestic and foreign architects are involved in its design. From the beginning, we have emphasized public space. At the same time, we want each of the neighborhoods we build in Prague to be an expression of a certain symbolism and identity,” Luděk Sekyra, founder of the Sekyra Group and the Sekyra Foundation, said.

“In Smíchov City, we want to commemorate important women who are united by a lifelong commitment to freedom, democracy, and the fight against totalitarianism,” he added.

The idea of promoting democracy isn’t limited to remembering history. “At the same time, inspired by London's Hyde Park, we propose to create a speakers' corner in one of the new parks and make it a place for public speeches, discussions, and civil dialogue,” Sekyra said.

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A network of new women's streets will emanate from the existing Za Ženskými domovy Street. The central pedestrian boulevard is to become třída Madeleine Albrightové. A street named for her neighbor and friend, art patron and collector Meda Mládková will connect with it. Both Albright and Mládková passed away this year. Under Czech law, streets cannot be named after living people.

A new elementary school in Smíchov City will also be named for Albright. Previously, the city announced plans to name a new bridge for Albright as well. The bridge is not part of the Smíchov City project, though it will connect Prague 4 to Prague 5, where Smíchov is located.

A street parallel to central boulevard will be named after historian and imprisoned dissident Růžena Vacková, a signer of Charter 77 who died in 1982. She had been imprisoned by both the Nazi occupation government and the communists.

Another street will be named for Jiřina Šiklová, a dissident who pioneered the field of gender studies. She helped found the Prague Gender Studies Center, the first organization of its kind in the Czech Republic.

Several people involved in the arts will also get street names. Artist Toyen is often described as the most significant Czech female surrealist of the 20th century. Toyen, though, dressed as a male and used male grammar. There is a growing tendency to acknowledge Toyen as a trans male and refer to him as such.

A street leading to the new school is to be named after the writer Josef Škvorecký. Another street headed toward the train station will be named after the writer František Langer, based on an initiative by the František and Jiří Langer Society and the Prague 5 municipal district.

Parks in the new neighborhood will be named after Holocaust survivor and philosopher Hannah Arendt, who taught in the U.S. until her death in 1975, and Alice and Anna Masaryková.

Alice Garrigue Masaryková sometime in the 1920s. (Chamber of Deputies archive)
Alice Garrigue Masaryková sometime in the 1920s. Chamber of Deputies archive.

Alice Masaryková, the daughter of President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, helped to establish the Red Cross in Czechoslovakia among other contributions to society. Anna Masaryková, the granddaughter of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, was a noted art historian who in particular championed the recognition of female artists.

The first of them should move into Smíchov at the turn of the year. The total cost of the project is currently estimated by the developer at more than CZK 20 billion. Smíchov City has two parts, north and south, which be connected by the street named for Madeleine Albright.

A decade ago, Olga Havlová, the first wife of President Václav Havel, got her own street in a modern part of her native Žižkov. The plaza next to the National Theatre is named after Havel.

In 2020, Jirousova Street was created in Řepory, named after the poet Ivan Martin Jirous, nicknamed Magor. Locals originally wanted to push for the name Magorova Street, but authorities did not allow it. Magor is slang for crazy. Jirous, who was imprisoned for his work with the dissident band Plastic People of the Universe, suffered from mental problems after he was released from jail.

Last year, Prague added place names dedicated to the memory of Dagmar Burešová, the attorney for the mother of Jan Palach. After the Velvet Revolution, she served as justice minister. Streets were also named for Semafor theater musician Ferdinand Havlík and the poet and artist Jiří Kolář. Currently, there is an effort to rename Koněvova Street in Prague 3 after Žižkov Mayor Karel Hartig.

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