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Nowa Huta is betting on neon signs. Another one has started to shine again

Wiktor Bochenek
18 of January '23

Neon signs continue to return to Nowa Huta, as we reported back in November last year. Today, Nowa Huta residents can already enjoy another restored neon sign - a good time to think about the idea for Nowa Huta.

The history of the attitude of Cracovians toward Krakow's youngest district can be described as an epic. From relative dislike and sometimes even hatred from the first days of its formation, through a long period of indifference, to finally noticing a "renaissance" and appreciation of the qualities of this industrial and residential part of the city. The last phase associated with noticing the qualities of Nowa Huta, in which we still find ourselves, has brought a number of interesting urban activities over the past few years, as well as unusual ideas.

Among the most recent is the "ultimate deleninization" of Rose Avenue. As part of a project in the 2019 civic budget, Nowa Huta residents have set their sights on revaluing this one of the most significant axes of the youngest neighborhood. After the liquidation of the Lenin monument in the early 1990s, it was a space without an idea for many years, overlaid with a phase of "indifference." Today, Rose Avenue is undergoing a metamorphosis, which we discussed with one of the designers. The neon signs, characteristic of Nowa Huta, are also to be brought to their splendor.

Ludwig's new shine

Last year, it was also reported that action on the restoration of neon signs began by the Municipal Buildings Administration. The reconstruction of the neon signs was consulted with the Municipal Conservator of Monuments, and the Institute of National Remembrance assisted in the restoration by providing archival footage and slides. The institution has announced work on the neon signs of the Stylowa café and the Jubilatka restaurant. The work is linked to the renovation of the buildings' facades.

Already today one can admire the "Ludwik" neon sign, which adorns a commercial pavilion on the Kazimierzowski estate. This is the second, after "Mercury", neon sign on a commercial building that has been renovated and launched by the Municipal Buildings Administration. Work on Ludwik lasted four months - from September to December last year. The cost of the renovation was more than thirty-five thousand zlotys. In the 1970s, the neon sign on this pavilion, in addition to "Ludwik," was lit by two other neon signs. Today the blue light of the neon signs can once again please residents and tourists.

neon guide to the steelworks

The restoration and repair of Nowa Huta's neon signs should be included in a broader trend. In the coming days, the premiere of "Guide to the Neon Signs of Nowa Huta" will take place, which was created as part of the "Trail of NowaHutaNeon Signs". The aim of the project was to remind us of this unusual heritage of Nowa Huta, which is often forgotten. The publication was preceded by a search that identified almost two hundred neon signs existing in the city's youngest district. The publication will include an explanation of the most important terms related to neon signs, a neon guide to Nowa Huta, as well as issues of opportunities and threats that this nonetheless ephemeral heritage may face. The project was financed by funds from the City of Krakow.

neon Markiza

Markiza neon sign

photo: Magda Rymarz | © C. K. Norwid Culture Center.

rethink the place

It is also worth considering the future of Nowa Huta, as well as its possibilities beyond industrial issues, important in the case of the district, but mostly beyond the control of the residents and local government. The tourist potential of Nowa Huta was overlooked for many years. The heritage of the Socialist Realist period and modernism from the perspective of residents of Central and Eastern Europe is not as interesting as it may be to tourists from other parts of the world, led by Western Europe and North American countries.

There have already been many ideas for Nowa Huta, including the notorious proposal to create a spa offer similar to Ciechocinek or Rabka. What the future of the district will look like is an idea for an important discussion that is slightly smoldering somewhere. However, it is worth enjoying the restoration of the neon resource, as well as its popularization in the form of a dedicated guide.

compiled by Wiktor Bochenek

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