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.
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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 could 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…