Friday, 6 November 2009

Łódź rising

To Łódź on Thursday evening to speak at a conference. Courtesy of its organisers, I stayed at the Andel's Hotel (I find the apostrophe use jarring after a proper noun that's preceded by a definite article). Nevertheless, very happy was I with the place. An excellent example of post-industrial space put to good use. The former textile factory has been turned into a modern hotel, blending contemporary design into the original. Below: No longer a dark, satanic mill. The lobby area at the Andel's Hotel.

Next door to the hotel is Manufaktura, Europe's largest post-industrial retail and entertainment complex. It boasts no fewer than 43 restaurants, cafes and bars!

Right: Brickwork looking resplendent in the autumn sunshine, Manufaktura's main entrance. Sadly, I had a train to catch, so no time to pop in for a look-round.

Next door to Manufaktura is Łódź's city museum (below), yet another stunning piece of fin de siecle architecture. They don't decorate buildings like this any more!

Each time I visit Łódź I'm impressed by the pace of change. (See this post - my visit to Łódź in March 2008) Great emphasis is placed on preserving and enhancing the city's past; in the local paper there was a story about a further 15 post-industrial premises being earmarked by the city for heritage status. Another story was about the city's 100 murals (mostly ads from communist days like this one) attracting the attention of local enthusiasts who want to restore them to their former glory.

I worked out that I'd have time in hand if I walked, so I set off along ul. Piotrkowska, which as I noted earlier, is Europe's longest shopping street. More and more of its elegant facades are getting a facelift.

Łódź is clearly a city worth visiting. It's an example of how to turn around industrial decay and reinvent a city through foreign direct investment (many huge factories have popped up here recently) and services (retail and entertainment). Well worth a visit if you've not been.


Island1 said...

But have you seen the "Would you in Łódź?" campaign on BBC World? Embarrassingly feeble.

jan said...

Quite a few controversial points you make. Łódź is (in)famous for the barbarian destruction of some pearls of industrial architecture (take a look at Łódź's threads at skyscrapercity for some clues) and tons and tons of potential - never realized. Piotrkowska is in decay, industry is no more, old good atmosphere has evaporated. One 4* hotel and one (indeed nice) mall for a city of almost 800 thousand people is really not enough.

Ok, much of Łódź's poor fate is owed to the fact that it is just too close to Warsaw sucking all the juices out of it. But the situation is not helped by the fact that the place is governed by one individual that some find rather feeble-minded.

Don't get me wrong, I have a LOT of sentiment for Łódź. It is a place of my childhood visits to my beloved granma, but in the league of Polish cities this second-largest place lags far behind Wrocław, Kraków, Poznań, Silesia, Tri-city and even maybe Szczecin. Sad, dark, gloomy.

Michael Dembinski said...

Jan - I'm afraid I have no reference points re: Łódź prior to the late '90s/early '00s, when it really was a dump. Back then, it seemed that every afera was kicking off in Łódź, Leszek Miller's fiefdom. My children even supposed that the word 'złodziej' referred to 'someone from Łódź'.

Since then, I've been observing steady progress.

When it comes to Polish cities that really have little to offer, it is Białystok
that wins my rotten tomato.