PAST (Poland)

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Pre-war look of the Large PAST (background) and Small PAST (foreground) buildings
The PAST building burning during the Warsaw Uprising.

PAST (short for Polska Akcyjna Spółka Telefoniczna, Polish Telephone Joint-stock Company) was a Polish telephone operator in the period between World War I and World War II. It is notable for its main headquarters in Warsaw, which at the time of its construction was the first and tallest skyscraper in the Russian Empire and the tallest building of Warsaw. The fight for the building during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 also added to the legend of the place.

The Swedish-owned company Towarzystwo Akcyjne Telefonów ", also known as Cedergren", won a competition in 1900 to expand the Warsaw telephone network. For that purpose, two buildings were built at Zielna street in downtown Warsaw, holding the telephone exchange and the company's headquarters. The building, located at 37 Zielna Street, was built between 1904 and 1910 and was constructed in two phases. The lower part, designed by L. Wahlman, I.G. Clason and B. Brochowicz-Rogoyski, was completed in 1904-1905; the upper part was added in 1907-1910. The building was one of the first reinforced concrete constructions of this magnitude in Europe.

The Cedergren license expired in 1922 and the building was consequently taken over by the PAST company. This is why it was referred to by Varsovians either by the name of Cedergren or PAST, or, colloquially, Pasta (English: Paste). During the German occupation of Poland, it was the regional telephone center for General Government. During the Warsaw Uprising, on August 20, 1944, the building was captured by Polish insurgents of AK battalion "Kiliński” after 20 days of bloody fighting. The building was severely damaged. It was rebuilt in a simplified architectural form after World War II. The company was not recreated after the war and its assets were nationalized by the Polish communist authorities.

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