The Reporter (Addis Ababa)

31 May 2014

Ethiopia: A Walk Down Memory Lane... Part Two!

Two weeks ago, I wrote a column listing 25 interesting facts about Addis Ababa. Since then, I have received emails asking me for more interesting facts as well as books that contain these facts.

So, here are 15 more interesting facts. And about my sources, I would urge my curious readers to spend an afternoon at the National Archives located near Black Lion Hospital. While we're on the topic of history and Addis Ababa, I would like to point out that a lot of institutions in Ethiopia are currently celebrating their 50th anniversary. This includes certain departments of Addis Ababa University, the Ethiopian Shipping Enterprise and many more. It is important to note that in order to properly address the challenges and the future of these institutions, it is important to revisit how and under which circumstances they were built. We have to keep in mind that we must learn from the mistakes, failures and successes of these institutions, rather than continually trying new approaches without a holistic view. But this is a topic for another column. Without further ado, here are 15 fun facts:

1. Although the Municipality was established in 1909, the current building was built in 1957, it's located in Piassa

2.The land where the Municipality was built used to be the largest salt market in the city

3.The first TV programs were transmitted from this same Municipality building in Addis

4.Gebreweld building: located in the heart of Piassa, right in front of the Municipality. It's the first high rise building in Addis with a lift shaft

5.Itegue Avenue: First Avenue built in Addis going from Emperor Menelik's palace to Ambassador Theater

6.Eucalyptus trees everywhere! Emperor Menelik had them imported from Australia in the 1920s when the city started running out of firewood

7.Lion of Judah Monument: Erected in 1930 just before Emperor Haile Selassie's coronation, it was looted by the Italian occupiers in 1935 and taken to Rome, where it was erected next to the Vittorio Emanuelle Monument. It was returned in the 1960s

8.The first brewery, Saint George beer was founded in Addis in 1922

9.Ras Hotel: located near the National Theater is famous for having the first revolving doors in Addis

10.What do the Bole International Airport, Stadium, National Theater, Yekatit 12 Hospital and Addis Ababa University have in common besides being in the same city? They were all once named after Emperor Haileselassie!

11.In 1955 the number of buildings and homes was 882 221

12.The first census was in 1944, the city had 317 925 dwellers, 10 859 were foreigners. Today, Addis' population is estimated at over 3 million

13.What connects San Francisco, Johannesburg, Havana and Addis Ababa? They're sister cities along with 17 others

14.In 1899, Emperor Menelik and Empress Taitu sent a recording of their voices on a phonograph from Addis Ababa to England for Queen Victoria. The phonograph is available today in London

15.Last but not least, Addis rests on a flood lava landscape of various types of basalt or volcanic rock, in Ethiopia's Central Plateau making it prone to seismic conditions

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