Remains

Próżna

Warsaw, the city I live in, is not the same place as it was seventy years ago. It didn’t happen due to evolutionary changes that every place in the world is liable to. In every city the new replaces the old, new people are coming, the urbanized area grows bigger and bigger. Warsaw is among those towns, that needed to be created again almost from nothing. During the World War II over 75% of buildings in the city was destroyed. Over a half of population of 1,3 million was killed.

Próżna street2

(Visit the full picture gallery)

With its mainly 18 and 19 century architecture, numerous palaces and churches Warsaw was once regarded as beautiful european city. After the war only the oldest buildings and those of great cultural and historical value were rebuilt. The rest was replaced with new urban layout and architecture. What had used to be  Warsaw’s downtown, tightly built with tenement houses, became an empty space with the huge, monumental Palace of Culture in the middle of it.

But the four houses at Próżna Street survived with only minor damages. It is hard to explain how this Próżna street3could happen  taking into account that dozens of other buildings in this area were demolished or burned to the ground. They still look almost exactly as right after the war and give us unique chance to see how the places, where thousands of people lived their lives, actually looked like. It’s not only the houses but also the section of the street with its lamp posts, sidewalks and paved roadway that can give any visitor  the feeling of travelling in time seventy years back.

What is sad about this place, is the fact that since 1945 the buildings havent got any serious repairs. Three of them are no longer inhabited due to possible collapse. But there’s also a  good news. Two houses have been recently bought by a company that wants to turn them into hotel and office buildings. These plans include restoring them to the pre-war state with as much details as possible. The works began last year and once they are finished the street will be even better place to visit. However the atmosphere will not be the same for sure…

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16 thoughts on “Remains

  1. I visited Warsaw right after it opened up to Western Businesses. I had a client who wished to bid on managing the Warsaw airport. Due to all that was going on, we didn’t learn who the right people were to talk to until it was too late. My recollection was that American Airlines won the project.

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  2. Cityscapes can be destroyed quickly, as in war, or more slowly by things like redevelopment and gentrification. My city (Vancouver, Canada) has a history of tearing down buildings and putting up new ones. It makes for a feeling of impermanence which affects not just the built landscape, but our culture and social interactions as well. (Sounds like a topic for its own blog post!)

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    1. So, you should write one ! 🙂

      And that’s exactly what we have in Warsaw now. During the last 20 years the city has witnessed rapid developement as never seen before. Unfortunately some older buildings of great value have been destroyed – the prices of the land have reached such stunning level that scarcely anyone cares about the preservation of our heredity. Just sad…

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  3. Wonderful images in the gallery and interesting post. I’m glad to hear that at least two of those buildings will be taken care of.

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    1. Thank You. I hope that’s just a beginning. There are many other buildings waiting for help. Sometimes you can’t help thinking
      that their owners wait for them to collapse to build something more profitable. I guess it’s true in many cases.

      PS There are street view pictures of this area if you’d like to see: http://g.co/maps/a5yxr

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  4. nice photos especially in b&w > please note however 4 buildings in Próżna street survived the war in much better condition than can be seen recently. They were only slightly damaged, but with all outside decorations and ornaments – there are some photos from the late 40’ties where one can see all the little beautiful details of architecture…. The decorations were demolished at the beginning of 1950-52 – already after the war, and hopefully will be restored soon… all the best, Ewa

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    1. Przyznaję, tekst napisałem trochę emocjonalnie, bez sprawdzenia faktów,dziękuję za sprostowanie 🙂 Jeżeli zdjęcia tych domów z lat 40. są gdzieś dostępne w internecie, byłbym wdzięczny za wskazówkę.

      Gratuluję świetnej strony o Warszawie – będę polecał i odwiedzał.

      Pozdrawiam

      Paweł

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  5. Bardzo dziękuję za miłe słowa 🙂
    Co do zdjęć z Próźnej zaraz po wojnie mam kilka w swoich zbiorach (niestety nie wszystkie są dobrej jakości) > wklejam tu linki:

    1. Próżna w 1919 > pocztówkę z 1919 pokazuję tu dla porównania, aby zobaczyć pierwotny wygląd budynku – na zdjęciu po prawej widać wylot Próżnej na pl. Grzybowski i narożną kamienicę nr 14 > http://img39.imageshack.us/img39/1272/1919plgrzybowski2.jpg

    2. Próżna 1945(47) oraz Próżna 2008 > porównanie stanu budynków, widok od strony pl. Grzybowskiego w kierunku Zielnej i Marszałkowskiej > http://img337.imageshack.us/img337/6915/powojniewylotprzneja.jpg

    3. Próżna 1949 – widok od pl. Grzynowskiego – widoczne narożne kamienice: Próżna 9 (po prawej) i Próżna 14 (po lewej), w tle – odbudowa PAST-y > http://img213.imageshack.us/img213/1614/1949plgrzybowskiwylotpr.jpg

    4. Próżna – zapewne lata 50-te,a le może nawet początek 60-tych (?) > widać obie narożne kamienice – nr 9 i nr 14 > http://img194.imageshack.us/img194/7520/powojniewylotprznej.jpg

    Serdecznie pozdrawiam,
    Ewa

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