New Belgrade Blocks
New Belgrade's Blok 62 at night
|Website||Blokovi - Novi Beograd (Serbian)|
The neighborhood is located in the southeastern urbanized section of the Novi Beograd municipality, on the left bank of the Sava river, across from the islands of Ada Međica and Ada Ciganlija. It is bound by the neighborhoods of Bežanija and Bežanijska Kosa from the north, Block 58 from the southeast (neighborhood of Savski Nasip) and the neighborhood of Dr Ivan Ribar from the west.
When construction of Novi Beograd began in 1948, the area designed for the future urban expansion was divided in 72 blocks (with several sub-blocks, like 8-a, 9-a, 9-b, 70-a, etc., and some numbers are missing). Not having any specific name like most other parts of the newly built Novi Beograd, over time, this area became colloquially known simply as Blokovi (The Blocks).
The population of the local communities which mainly form the neighborhood was 89,561, including the neighborhood of Dr Ivan Ribar. But the boundaries of the Blokovi neighborhood are very informal and roughly can be divided into two sections separated by the Yuri Gagarin Street: the north part or, so called Bežanijski blokovi (Bežanija blocks) with a population of 44,505 and the south part or Savski blokovi (Sava (river) blocks) with a population of 45,056 in 2002.
The neighborhood is known for its two rows of over one hundred residential buildings, especially blocks 45 and 70 with original setup of two sets of 21 (totalling 42) identical four and two story buildings close to the river, with large playgrounds in between, and two sets of over 40 (totalling 80) similar red brick skyscrapers close to the Jurija Gagarina street. The area close to the river is a continuous embankment on the Sava river, stretching throughout the whole neighborhood, known as the Sava riverbank (Serbian: Savski kej).
The rows of two-story and 4-story buildings in Block 70 and especially Block 45 are also known as "Naselje Sunca" (or, in English, "The Sunny Community"), because of the peaceful environment ideal for kids and optimism and positive energy that prevailed in 1970s Belgrade. Also, the Block 45 was inhabited by a large number of artists and intellectuals, though the structure of the population has changed a bit since the 1970s.
Omladinskih brigada street divides Block 70-a from Block 70, Gandijeva street Block 70 from Block 44 and Nehruova street Block 44 from Block 45. Through the middle of the whole neighborhood curves the Lazaro Kardenas promenade. At the end of the Gandijeva street, on the Sava riverbank, a monumental bust of Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi (after whom the street was named) was erected in 2007, as a pre-celebration of October 2, Gandhi's birthday (Gandhi Jayanti) and the UN proclaimed International Day of Non-Violence
Economy and transportation
The neighborhood is entirely residential, without any industrial facilities. A commercial sector began to develop alongside the Jurija Gagarina street in the 1990s, and expanded in the 2000s.
Major commercial or social facilities (almost all of them on the Jurija Gagarina street) comprise:
- Block 70-a: Delta-auto car dealership, large Honda car dealership, Hellenic Petroleum gas station and the Omega-beton gravel selling facility on the Sava bank;
- Block 70: several shopping malls including a Chinese market, OMV gas station and large postal facilities (including two separate post offices); it also has a primary school "20. oktobar", kindergarten and its own local community (Serbian: mesna zajednica) of Savski kej.
- Block 44: green market, several shopping malls including one of the first modern super-malls in Belgrade, the Piramida (Serbian for pyramid, because of its shape) and a McDonald's restaurant; it also has two medical clinics.
- Block 45: four shopping malls, including "Enjub"; it also has a primary school Branko Radičević, once the biggest elementary school in the Balkans, which had elite quality education - winning many federal level prizes at competitions in subjects such as mathematics, literature etc., kindergarten, nursery, FK Sava's soccer field and its own local community of Sava.
Routes of the public transportation lines pass through all of the streets in the neighborhood: bus lines 45, 68, 73, 76, 81, 82, 89, 94, 95 and 610 and tramway lines 7, 9 and 11.
Bežanijski blokovi are build on the southernmost uninhabited area of the former Bežanija village, thus the name. However, it is completely urbanized and even though different architecturally from the southern section, it also features a series of residential skyscrapers in two parallel rows, stretching through the blocks 61, 62, 63 and the western section of 64. There are over 50 skyscrapers altogether (22 parallel ones with several additional in between).
Bežanijski blokovi are also known as "Oficirski blokovi" (or, in English, "The Officers' blocks"), since a large portion of the apartments in the buildings were owned by the old Yugoslav army, which housed its personnel there. Consequently, a large portion of the inhabitants of the Bežanijski blokovi are the families of the retired army officers who bought out their apartments from the Army.
Southern border marks the Jurija Gagarina street while the northern, separating it from Bežanija is the Vojvođanska street. In between, the Dušana Vukasovića street divides Blocks 61 and 62, the Nehruova street Blocks 62 and 63 and the Gandijeva street divides Blocks 63 and 64.
Economy and transportation
Despite being constructed as a continuation of the highly industrialized central section of Novi Beograd from the east (heavy industry like IMT, Minel, FOB-FOM, etc.), the neighborhood is entirely residential with commercial facilities developing only recently. Major commercial and social facilities include:
- Block 61: a kindergarten, a gas station Sunce (Serbian for sun) and a local community of Bežanijski blokovi...
- Block 62: an ice skating rink with a gym and a primary school of Užička Republika, IDEA superstore, Technomarket consumer electronics store, Univerexport superstore and DM drogerie...
- Block 63: Maxi superstore, gas station "Lav Petrol", tennis court, a primary school Jovan Sterija Popović, Orion Telekom headquarters...
- Block 64: ImmoOutlet trade center, a primary school and a local community both under the name of Mladost (Serbian for youth)...
In addition to other bus lines, additional lines passing through or around the neighborhood are 89, 94, 95 (right through the middle), 45, 71, 72, 82, 601, 602 and 610.
Neighbourhood culture and public image
Blokovi inhabitants represent the cross-section of the Serbian population. Because most people in Blokovi received their apartments through government-funded social programs, the population is very socio-economically mixed: it is not uncommon to have a bus driver living next door to a neurosurgeon in the same apartment block.
The blocks near the Sava river, especially the four and two story buildings, were inhabited by a large number of artists and intellectuals in the 1970s. The neighbourhood is ideal for young children, with many playgrounds and a popular boardwalk built along Sava's left bank. It is also considered as a healthy and a quiet place to live in as it has a lot of green areas, sports terrains and also a bicycle trail alongside the river.
On the other hand, the officer blocks, and their grayness and drabness have earned Blokovi the reputation of some sort of urban ghetto during the 90s. This image was perpetuated by recent Serbian movies such as Rane, Apsolutnih sto, Jedan na jedan, Sutra ujutro, and Sedam i po.
However, recently the erection of Delta City shopping mall, plans for Aquapark and Tennis courts near Block 45 have doubled the value of real estate in this area, at the time when New Belgrade with numerous development plans becomes one of the more desirable parts of the city.
The well-known Yu-rock band Riblja Čorba has made a song with the title "Neću da živim u bloku 65" (English: I don't want to live in block 65), which can be found on the CD "Buvlja pijaca" released in 1982.
Also, a grunge band from Belgrade's block 19a, named Euforia, has a song called "Blokovi".
- Beograd - plan grada; M@gic M@p, 2006; ISBN 86-83501-53-1
- Politika daily, September 18, 2007, p.23