Timisoara developed considerably during the late 19th century and early 20th century, during which period significant technical advances were made; first town in Europe to have gas street lighting (1857), one of the first to introduce trams, and the first in Romania to have a public water supply. It had also become the the communications and administrative hub of the Banat with the coming of the railway, the canal and improved roads. This period saw considerable expansion with new well-planned districts of housing and factories being created south and east of the Bega Canal - in particular Iosefin, Elisabetin and Fabric. This wave of construction attracted many creative, imaginative designers during the opening years of the 20th Century, drawing their inspiration from the architects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to which the Banat still belonged. Most significant at this time were the pioneers of the Jugendstil (Art Nouveau or Secessionism) such as Ödon Lechner in Hungary and Otto Wagner in Austria.
The Secessionism developed in two distinct architectural phases in Timisoara, the first which was typified by sinuous lines and floral decorations lasted until 1908. The secomd phase, which continued until the first world war, saw simpler, larger buildings with geometrical designs. Notable among these architects of the Art Nouveau in Timişoara were Laszlo Szekely (1877-1934) who designed both municipal buildings and factories, in addition to residential apartments and villas, and Martin Gemeinhardt. In many respects it is the abundance of Secessionist architecture that has provided Timişoara with its rather appropriate tag,"Little Vienna".