Heritage of Black City. Part 1

Black city is the name given to southeastern neighborhoods of Baku in late 19th century due to birth of an industrial center in this particular area. By the end of 19th century, this place already included 123 oil refineries, 118 industrial businesses, new factories and many more as a result of the first oil boom. The area itself was not too far from central Baku although the living conditions here were unbearable due to constant smoke and soot in the air. In his book "Banking On Baghdad" (page 100), Edwin Black writes about a young Turkish man who in 1890, traveled a long way from London to Baku and described the black city in his journal: "Everything is black, the walls, the earth, the atmosphere, the sky. One feels the oil, breathes the vapors, the acrid smell seizes you by the throat". Interesting moment is that industrialization led to foundation of a unique architecture in this particular area. There were factories and houses built in a style that would remind you of Europe, with "red bricks" playing a vital role. 

Unfortunately, 21st century brought an unfair attitude to this place and according to the new design of Baku, old constructions on this area are being completely demolished and replaced with fancy glass buildings, shopping malls, business centers and parks. This process has led to massive construction which can be witnessed today. Instead of turning this area into a huge open-air history museum of the first oil boom in Baku, it was decided to rename this place into "White City" and give a start to a massive construction process. Nevertheless, it is still possible to come up to old buildings which survived up to date but probably won't be there in the next few years. 

The renovated old buildings which can be seen on main streets are not a part of the early industrial black city. These were built starting from 50's and 60's and give an example of post-WWII Stalinist architecture:

Yusif Seferov street. Renovated building of post WWII era. Such buildings were recently renovated simply because they are on main streets which connect various districts. The other sides of these buildings are still worn out, and dirty.
If you want to find a real treasure, some fascinating examples of Black City architecture from the times when Alfred Nobel ran his company in Baku, you need to get deeper and deeper into the old blocks because the crazy modern construction of skyscrapers going on with an insane tempo will give you a feeling that there is nothing old left in there. 

This old non-residential building (probable built as an office) can be found on the street parallel to Yusif Seferov. The road here is very narrow itself and the only space for pedestrian walk is crowded with parked cars. So it was impossible to find an angle for a good shot. A part of this building has been used as hospital for a long time (Efendiyev clinic). This part on the photo is abandoned. I don't know when exactly it was built and what for, but it is definitely worth seeing. 
An old residential building just a few meters away, on the same street as of the photo shown above. 
Building of the Wagon Repair Plant. Built in 1892. I think it doesn't function anymore, or maybe not with full capacity.
A residential building of early 20th century.
A newly renovated non-residential building of late 19th century. Today it funcions as an office for a sub-branch of the state oil company.
1920's. Building of a fire station. 
1910's. A residential building.
Another residential building. I don't know the exact date of its construction, but according to what I've heard it is from 1920's.
Residential building constructed for chief engineers of Nobel company. Built in 1911. Actually this is the house where I grew up (third floor and the attic).
Same building in 1920's. Church of Saint Ilya (on the left) was demolished by communists in 1929. The tram line (on the right, just nearby the building) was demolished in 2000.
This is my top favourite non-residential building in Black city. Big windows, high ceiling and design itself makes me believe that it was a small factory or a huge warehouse. I don't know anything for sure though and I couldn't find any info about it. 
I don't have a pro camera and I am not a good photographer so this building may seem as nothing particular. But believe me, it is worth seing especially considering the fact that it is surrounded by fresh constriction sites of the new and fancy "white city" project. So it is evindent that demolition of this worn-out and abandoned building is just a matter of months. 
As I've already mentioned, it is completely surrounded by construction sites and I was all the way in mud and dust while looking for an angle to take these pictures. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a way to get inside as the doors were locked. A few minutes after, security guard of the construction area noticed me and my camera and began asking silly questions (as if I was taking pictures of a nuclear missle production process). I sensed that I can get into trouble because now it is a private property of the construction firm so I decided to leave before anything happens. It is so sad to realize that all these buildings which are a living heritage of the Black city, will be soon gone...
a sad example of the tasteless and insane "modern" construction process in Black City....
end of Part 1, to be continued...