Urban Places, Criminal Spaces: Police and Crime in Fin de Siècle Budapest
This essay examines the processes by which police oversight came to emerge in Budapest at the turn of the century and expanded to cover ever larger sections of the city. It also considers aspects of public safety from the perspective of the relationship between the capital and the urban communities on its periphery. The patterns of the expansion of police authorities in the urban space suggest that, rather than exercise control over social groups (workers, the poor) perceived as potentially dangerous by representatives of power, the police were called upon to protect private property, and in particular to exercise authority in parts of the city in which members of the elite and middle class lived. In contrast, in the outlying parts of the city one has the impression at first glance that the police increased its presence first and foremost in areas in which members of the working class lived. Closer scrutiny, however, reveals that the expansion of the authority of the municipal police to the outlying parts of the city served not to further the “compelled acculturation” of workers, but rather as a means of removing “undesirable” elements (criminals, vagrants, and beggars who traveled between the inner districts and the outskirts) from the capital.