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Lodz


The impressive history of Lodz dates back to the first half of the 19th century. New inhabitants, merchants and craftsmen were drawn to Lodz, mainly from different parts of the country but also from the area that is now the Czech Republic and Saxony, and occasionally also from England, France and Switzerland. It was then that the domestic textile industry came into being and Lodz became the leading centre of the Polish textile industry.

The first textile settlement in Lodz "The Textile New Town" was established in 1823. This is the date considered to be the beginning of "industrial Lodz". Lodz became "The Promised Land" for thousands of poor people from villages and small towns.

In the years 1828-1880, Lodz underwent enormous changes. Following that period it entered a phase of rapid growth and concentration of capital experiencing a rise in production. As early as 1825 the first cotton mill, built by Kristian Fryderyk Wendisch from Saxony, was established.

In 1839 in Ludwik Geyer's factory (the so called “White Factory”) the first steam engine to be used in the Polish cotton industry was installed. In 1855, in Karol Scheibler's factory, the first spinning machine was used, and in 1866, in Juliusz Heinzl's factory, the first weaving-mill appeared.

It was between 1870 and 1890 that Lodz experienced its most intense industrial development. Many large cotton mills came into being, among others: Izrael Kalman Poznanski's plant (in 1872) and also J. Heinzl's and Kunitzer's plant (in 1879). The production of woollen, linen, silk, and rubber goods grew as textile machines developed. During that period Lodz entered a phase of major capitalist development.

The social structure of the population was an interesting mixture of nationalities – mainly Polish, German and Jewish. We can also observe the changes and typological evolutions of the townhouse. Ground-floor timber houses were substituted by one-storey masonry houses that covered the whole width of the plot and by large tenements, usually three-storeys high with side buildings integrated structurally. Occasionally there were some taller tenements with a double commercial level near the ground. From the turn of the century the facades were often shaped asymmetrically. Very few of them followed the forms of Art Nouveau, neo-Renaissance, neo-Baroque or Eclecticism. There were also some mansions, which were generally located next to the factories and varied in size and form. Some of them were built within the street frontage and had commercial functions such as the manufacturer’s city office and wholesale counter. Others, located at a distance, were surrounded by private gardens. There were certain public buildings such as banks and schools, not to mention numerous religious buildings of various denominations.

Just before World War I, Lodz was one of the most densely populated industrial cities in the world. The war halted the process of economic development, it was the time of depression in the textile industry. However, Lodz remained the city of textile workers, the centre of an industrial district, and the centre of the domestic textile industry in the years 1919-1939.

During World War II few buildings were destroyed in Lodz. After the war new housing estates were built and new industrial plants emerged. The whole infrastructure of the city was changing.

The city is also a cultural centre, many great artists were born and worked in Lodz – for example Artur Rubinstein and Julian Tuwim came from Lodz, while Andrzej Wajda, Roman Polański and Krzysztof Kieślowski studied at the Łódź Film Academy. Since 2000 the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography has been held in Lodz in addition to Camerimage.

 

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