Land promised again?

16 of February '23

The boat is most different. Its existence cannot be fully explained. Compared to many cities, it has relatively the least natural character. Because of this, it is engagingly original, provoking one to make its contemporary reinterpretation and try to answer the question "what's next for this metropolis?".

Lodz is as crazy as a gigantic town of gold prospectors. Cinematic like a set built by a possessed Midas. Socially and historically different. Łódź is young, but past its prime. Łódź is absurd. Łódź is beautiful. Łódź is post-agony, but also post-electroshock, which proved effective. Łódź is a sprawling ruin that is being transformed into a mega large loft. Łódź is spaces of disaster that are filled with success. Finally, Lodz is a whole constellation, because there is no Lodz without Pabianice, Aleksandrów, Konstantynów, Rzgów and Zgierz. And, finally, there is no Lodz without Bałuty, the Lodz equivalent of Warsaw's Praga. More about Bałuty, Pabianice and Rzgów in a moment - because these places require separate attention, special paragraphs.

Lodz is, of course, Piotrkowska Street. Piotrkowska Street is Lodz's calling card, USP, differentiator, urban salon, super tourist product, public space, center of leisure industries. The longest and most beautiful walking street in the world. An architectural gem and a pedestrian thoroughfare that is reason enough to fall in love with Lodz. A place brilliant, beautiful and full of attractions. Still unrecognized in the world, as it should be. But this is changing.

przez lata często pustawa ulica Piotrkowska zaczyna się zaludniać

For years, the often empty Piotrkowska Street is beginning to populate

© City Hall of Lodz

Lodz is a film city, literally and figuratively. There is a famous film school here, and there are natural, imagination-stirring, very cinematic settings that have worked on many people from the film world, such as David Lynch, whose tumultuous relationship with the city only confirms the power of Lodz's genius loci.

There is tremendous potential and great trauma in all of this. This historically young organism is after enormous transitions. A Russian city of Germans, Jews and Poles, finally taken over by the latter. A giant garment factory that lost and rose several times economically. The last time it lost was in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this time to Asia, which captured global textile production. This competition led Lodz's industry to total collapse. But on the ruins of old factories, new ones like to grow over time. And while the Lodz region has lost most of its originally textile character (not all of it, for example, in Rzgow a textile market, one of the largest in Europe, is still thriving today, a phenomenon worth visiting in itself and causing amazement), it has gained a completely new, still industrial character.

This new formula for factory-based Lodz includes the white goods industry. The city has attracted major players - there are Whirlpool/Indesit, Electrolux, General Electric, Philips, Bosch, Miele and Siemens AG, among others. Thanks to them, Lodz is growing into one of the world's largest refrigerator, washing machine and dishwasher factories. And others are sprouting up around this industry, as an effect of scale has been created. It is reinforced by Lodz's strategic location - at one of Europe's most important highway intersections. This results in the rapid growth of the logistics industry, distribution centers and warehouses.

spektakularny ciąg spacerowy jest największym atutem całej metropolii

A spectacular walking route is the greatest asset of the entire metropolis

© Lodz City Hall

Very interesting is this Łódź of today. The city is renovating on a massive scale, it is probably the biggest revitalization of modern Europe. It is also a huge construction site, as a huge tunnel is being dug under the center, which for the first time in history will connect Lodz's railroad stations and unite the city, acting on the development of the urban fabric like a subway. And when a high-speed railroad is connected to this transportation hub, allowing you to reach Warsaw in half an hour, Lodz will become the most beautiful district of the capital (with real estate still at very favorable prices). The Warsaw-Lodz supermetropolis will be one of the three key urban organisms in this part of the world. But before that happens, let's learn as much as we can about this city.

centrum znowu tętni życiem

the center is vibrant again

photo: Witold Ancerowicz

Other cities, those much older and much more normal, whatever that is supposed to mean, were built for very similar reasons and in logical places. Because it's usually not difficult to understand why they were built there: either on large, navigable rivers, or at their mouths, or in easily defensible areas (in river bends or on hills), or sometimes on islands or invalleys protected by mountains, or in bays forming natural seaports, at the intersections of trade routes, which often coincides with the previously mentioned reasons for the formation of cities. This was the case with Krakow, Warsaw, Gdansk, Szczecin, Wroclaw, Bydgoszcz or Poznan... This was the case with Lübeck, Hamburg, Rome, Constantinople, Kiev, Paris or London. This is treated in Tim Marshall's excellent book "Prisoners of Geography", which at this point I recommend to all those who are eager for the impossible - that is, to understand the world... Meanwhile, Lodz escapes the classic schemes. Lodz was created for completely different reasons, in a completely different way and for a completely different purpose. Because every city is "for something".

Księży Młyn to spektakularny kompleks przemysłowy o kubaturze 1 mln m³, dziś - odrestaurowany - daje pojęcie o skali łódzkiej historii

Księży Młyn is a spectacular industrial complex with a volume of 1 million cubic meters, today - restored - gives an idea of the scale of Łódź history

© City Hall of Lodz

What is Lodz for? Today, the answer to this question will be intriguing, as it is for something a little different than it was originally. But in order. Lodz as we know it began around 1820. For a city - as if the day before yesterday. Before that, there was only a small settlement in this place, with forests and streams around it. Nearby lay the ancient city of Pabianice.

Those were the days when the region belonged to the Kingdom of Poland - a territory dependent on Czarist Russia. The administration of the time manifested the need to arrange an industrial center specialized in textile production. Ot a clerical decision. The location? Anywhere, as long as there was wood (for firewood and construction purposes) and streams or rivers (for the needs of the folush, water wheels, mechanisms and chemical processing of textiles) in the area. Administratively, the area around Pabianice and Zgierz, cities that had existed here since the Middle Ages, was indicated. Forests grew thick here, and rivers flowed in large numbers. However, the key argument for locating the investment here and not elsewhere was to be formal: the land was state-owned and suitable investment plots could be easily allocated here. And so the story of Lodz began.

Księży Młyn pokazuje ideę miasta w mieście, poza fabryką było tu wszystko: szkoła, szpital, remiza i osiedla robotnicze

Księży Młyn shows the idea of a city within a city, besides the factory there was everything here: a school, a hospital, a fire station and workers' settlements

Photo: Radoslaw Jóźwiak | Fotocrew

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