Piotrkowska Street, also called Bigel or Pietryna, is the longest street in Poland. It's 4.2 kilometers long. Historic residential and industrial buildings of the 19th and early 20th century are around it. Initially, Piotrkowska Street was a standard tract leading from Lodz to Piotrków Trybunalski in the south and to Zgierz and Łęczyca in the north. The classic city center with a market, shops and the amenities of public life focused around it never took shape in Lodz. Piotrkowska Street has assumed this role with time. Today, the street running southern from the Liberty Square (Plac Wolności) to the Independence Square (Plac Niepodległości), is the commercial and cultural heart of the city. It's a favorite meeting place for the residents of Lodz and tourists. Festivals, concerts, sporting events, happenings, fests and fairs are held here.
Between Old Town and New Town
The northern part of the tract between the Old and the New Town Square (today's Nowomiejska Street) began to be called Piotrkowska Street around 1815. The first plaque with its name is from 1823. Five years later the name was officially confirmed and marked on the map. Lodz received city rights as early as 1423. Over the centuries, however, it was a predominantly agricultural city In the 19th century, it became one of the largest centers of the textile industry in Europe (it has maintained this status to this day – plants producing silk, cotton, wool, felt, knitting and hosiery, decorative fabrics industry, as well as many scientific research institutes, among others, of textile industry and synthetic fibers, all operate here).
The first drapers and weavers settled in Piotrowska in 1923. Numerous manufactures of cotton, wool and linen fabrics, which exported their commodities to Russia and China, settled here. Among others, in 1837, the cotton-weaving plant of Ludwig Geyer called the White Factory started under No. 282. It's one of the greatest monuments of industrial architecture in Poland, now the headquarters of the Central Museum of Textiles.
In the 2nd half of the 19th century, large modern enterprises began to emerge. This included the plants of Karol Scheibler, Izrael Poznanski or Ludwik Grohman. At the turn of the century, Lodz became the largest industrial center of the Polish Kingdom. And Piotrkowska Street flourished along with it. In 1887, the Grand Hotel, designed by Hilary Majewski, opened at No. 72. It was originally a factory of wool and cotton products owned by Ludwik Meyer. In 1888, Victoria theater, later transformed into the Polonia cinema after World War II, began functioning at No. 67, and in 1899. The first permanent cinema in the Polish land started at No. 120.
Archcathedral Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka
In 1912, a neo-Gothic Church named after Stanislaus Kostka, the highest in Lodz, was erected and, in 1920, raised to the rank of cathedral. In 1992 it became the Archcathedral. Building of the church took place between 1901 and 1912. Emil Zillman won a design competition announced in 1898 at the initiative of the Committee for the Church Construction, founded four years earlier, but his design was extensively corrected by Józef Dziekoński, Sławomir Odrzywolski and Kazimierz Sokołowski. Construction work lasted until 1912, which was mainly due to a long break caused by the revolutionary events of 1905-1907. The church has a 104-meters high tower added to the body of the three-nave basilica in 1927.
The author of the concept was Józef Kaban-Korski. In 1921, after establishing the Lodz diocese, the church became a cathedral and in 1992 - an arch cathedral. In 1989, Pope John Paul II raised the church to the rank of a minor basilica. The church is a Neo-Gothic building with a form resembling monumental Medieval cathedrals. It's characterized by a vertical structure and an abundance of lancet arches. The elevation is clad in yellow clinker brick. The square in front of the church has three monuments: of Stanislaus Kostka, Pope John Paul II and of the unknown soldier. In 1971, the roof of the cathedral burnt in a fire, but soon after reconstruction, the church was once again opened to the faithful.
Many pioneering actions in the history of the city have connections with Piotrkowska Street. It was here that the first brick house was raised at No. 243 in 1835. In 1869, the Lodz Society of Gas installed gas lighting for the first time. In 1876, the first stone pavement, the so-called cobblestones, was laid along the entire length of the street, and in 1898 the first electric tram trundled down this stretch.
Palaces on Piotrkowska Street
Piotrkowska Street was a prestigious address, plots were much more expensive here than in the outskirts. This resulted in the great density of villas and palaces of city entrepreneurs, tenement houses and public buildings in various architectural styles. They include: the neo-Renaissance palace of factory owner, Juliusz Heinzel, at No. 104, the apartment building of printer and founder of the first newspaper in Lodz, Johann Petersilge, with a rich eclectic façade at No. 86, the palace of one of the greatest industrialists in Lodz, Karol Scheibler, with a neoclassical façade at No. 266, or the palace of industrialist Juliusz Kindermann in the Italian Renaissance style with a unique mosaic frieze made by the Venetian stucco workshop at No. 137/139. When, in around 1900, Art Nouveau began to dominate art and architecture, Poland's largest complex of Art Nouveau architecture was formed in Lodz.
The post-war years were not favorable for Piotrkowska Street. Many 19th-century tenement houses were demolished, and crumbling decorative elements on facades were removed. The situation changed after 1990, when at the initiative of the city architect, Marek Janik, a member of the artistic group Lodz Kaliska, the Foundation of Piotrkowska Street was established. Its main goal was to revitalise Piotrkowska Street, preserving its historical and cultural heritage and transforming it into a pedestrian precinct. The revitalization was carried out in 1990-1997 and 2012-2014.
As a result, decorative sets and street lamps in the modernist style appeared in a few sections of the street. Tenements and palaces, in which restaurants, cafés, pubs and shops opened, came back to life. Initially, mainly façades were renovated, but with time the restoration work began to reach the backyards and annexes. The foundation also came up with the idea of a unique Monument of Citizens of Lodz at the Turn of the Millennium – created by the residents of Lodz as an expression of devotion to the city and involvement in its matters. It consists of nearly 17,000 paving stones with cast-iron plates on which the names of the founders are engraved. They are mounted on the pavement of Piotrkowska Street between Tuwim Street and Nawrot Street.
Street springs with drinking water in the form of granite columns with sculptures of children and fish also appeared at Piotrkowska Street. This was the idea of the Water and Sewage Company in Lodz. The instigators behind this initiative are the Lodz artists, Magdalena Walczak and Marcin Mielczarek.
Since the late 1990's, on the initiative of cultural animator Marcel Szytenchelm, Piotrkowska Street has been decorated with open-air bronze sculptures commemorating famous personalities associated with the city. They form the so-called Gallery of Great People of Lodz, and include Tuwim's Bench, Rubinstein's Piano, Reymont's Chest and the Creators of Industrial Lodz.
Movies and Museums
The Stars Avenue is designed after Hollywood's Walk of Fame and stretches from August 6th Street and the Rubinstein Passage. It's dedicated to actors, directors, set designers and cameramen (Lodz is home to the famous film school). Its originator was director Jan Machulski. There are stars of, among others, Andrzej Seweryn (his star was the first in 1998), Agnieszka Holland, Krzysztof Kieślowski and Roman Polański.
Walking down Piotrkowska Street, it is worth visiting several museums. The Museum of the Sewer “Tube” is a perfectly preserved oval rainwater tank under the Freedom Square – a part of the sewerage system designed by British engineer, William Lindley. The exhibition presents objects, documents and archival photos documenting the formation of the Lodz sewage and water supply systems in the 1920's and 1930's. The Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography (Plac Wolności 14) collects exhibits related to folk culture and ethnography of the Lodz land among other things.
In the Museum of Pharmacy (Plan Wolności 2), the interior of a pharmacy from the late nineteenth and early 20th century was recreated along with the recipe, herbs room, library and lounge. It includes antique apothecary furniture, instruments for producing medicines and vessels for storing them, as well as pharmacy and laboratory scales, cast-iron and porcelain mortars.
Central Museum of Textiles
The Central Museum of Textiles in the White Factory of Ludwik Geyer presents raw materials, textile techniques and technologies and finished fabrics, and much more. It also organizes the International Triennial of Tapestry. This is the oldest and the largest exhibition of contemporary artistic textile in the world. The museum originates from the Weaving Section established in 1952 in the Lodz Museum of Art. The museum is in the “White Factory”. This is a large classic four-story complex of white-painted buildings (hence the name), one of the most attractive examples of industrial architecture in Poland.
It was built between 1835 and 1839 by Ludwik Geyer and housed the first mechanical cotton-spinning and weaving machine in Lodz, powered by the first steam engine in the city. The low wooden ceilings supported by rows of columns of the former factory floor are a superb backdrop for exhibiting historic tools and equipment of the textile industry. Exhibits include Poland’s largest collections of yarns, weaves, knitted fabrics and samples of industrial fabrics. There are also manufactured examples of Polish artistic fabrics, women’s clothing, men’s clothing, European tapestries, sashes, oriental carpets and rugs as well as documents and iconography on textiles. The museum was a co-organizer, but in 1982, took over organizing the International Tapestry Triennial Contest. It's the world’s largest exhibition and competition of contemporary textile art.
|Address||str. Piotrkowska 282, Lodz|
Piotrkowska Street is not a pedestrian precinct, but a street with limited traffic. The most pleasant way to travel down it is in a rickshaw. Rickshaws appeared on Pietryna in 1999. They are not only a tourist attraction, but also serve a practical role as a means of public transport. Provided with roofs and wind covers, they ride along Piotrkowska Street throughout the year. In 2015, Piotrkowska Street officially became a historical monument.