1989 is the year of the definitive disappearance of the bloc of the socialist republics which, since the Second World War, have marked the events of Europe. The year of the demolition of the Berlin Wall, the year of the “velvet revolutions”.
The short time before the end of the century marks the countries of socialist Europe with profound transformations. New perspectives open up, new cultural, political and social exchanges and with them the new market economy and the values of the consumer society arrive to the east.
The big socialist cities are immediately hit by major transformations and the new climate of the 1990s, especially Budapest, which has always been the most open and cosmopolitan capital of Central and Eastern Europe. The market economy and local finance choose it as their headquarters and as their gateway to the east. Huge flows of foreign direct investment overwhelm and transform it.
Under the impetus of the new situation, the city, which for over 40 years has been governed by rigid centralised planning, changed rapidly; a new economy and a global society transformed it, not unlike many other metropolises, but faster, accomplishing in ten years what elsewhere has been achieved in much longer time and with more gradual processes.
This temporal compression has, according to my thesis, made more evident, more dramatic the transformations of the urban fabric, organization and space in Budapest. It is precisely by exploiting this effect of enphasizing changes that the book seeks to investigate how global economies and societies can transform cities.
It is a reflection based on an accurate description of what happened in the Hungarian capital between 1990 and 1999, which does not pretend to propose a neutral representation but uses a personal and intentional look. It is a reflection that tries to read the signs of continuity and discontinuity between a recent past, but sometimes very distant and the last years of the past century; which investigates relationships and divergences with what has happened in neighbouring Western Europe and proposes an analysis of the instruments used by scholars to interpret the recent transformations of the city and their effects. It is a reflection, finally, that always reveals an affection for the two cities that, looking at themselves from the banks of the Danube, form Budapest.