Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Promised Land

Hi there, long time no see! Let me spam the InterWeb again with some random facts and photos from the Promised Land. "Eh? Promised Land?" - well, yes, that's what this city used to be called back in the late nineteenth century, when the future Nobel prize winner for literature, Władysław Reymont, wrote a novel of this title. The city's population grew from less than 1000 in 1815 to 600 000 in 1915 - a growth of 60000% in 100 years, which is absolutely unique in Europe.
So, why people came here? To seek work, of course. The city was a big textile hub and offered a lot of jobs and opportunities. Of course the term "Promised Land" might sound sarcastic for thousands of cheap workers trying to make ends meet doing several shifts a day and living in apalling conditions. However many industrialists tried their luck here and became insanely rich - so rich, that they owned much of the land in the city and could afford lavish palaces, which they built next to their impressive textile mills.
One of the richest industrialists, Karl Scheibler, who came here from Germany, was the "lord" of Księży Młyn - a huge industrial complex, a unique city within a city, with its own residential quarter for mill workers, a school, a hospital, a fire station, railway system, a park and beautiful palaces. Now, after 100 years, the mills no longer serve their purpose, but the area is being turned into a modern office, industrial and residential complex, with old factories made of red brick brought back to life, old palaces housing art & cinematography museums, and green parks.
You can still see the might of Scheibler's fortune in the giant mills now being turned into luxurious lofts or class A office space. Don't forget to check out the site of his tomb - a monument one the kind, a beautiful gothic revival chapel.