BAŁUTY – fascinating, neglected place (a short intro)
The urban space of the Bałuty district is the complex and ambiguous phenomenon. Today it is the largest city district, located in its northern part. It started to develop in the nineteenth century as the suburb of the industrial town. Bałuty, densely populated by Jews and Poles, very quickly became the synonym of an “evil” place where the urban tissue and the living conditions were disastrous (lack of technical infrastructure or sewage network). On the other hand, Bałuty were lively, colorful, multicultural district with its own urban legends. Important and dramatic period in the history of Bałuty started with the German occupation, when the Germans established ghetto in this area. After the IIWW there opened a new chapter in the history of this unique place, which was to be submitted by the communist authorities far-reaching transformations. The neglected area was planned as the first model socialist quarter for the working class in Poland. This visionary programme has been completed only fragmentary. Bałuty were constructed during many decades and therefore we can meet mixed forms, the socialist realist and modern, simultaneously. Bałuty became the complex space containing remnants of all the stages of the city development: the nineteenth century, the Nazi occupation, the socialist period. Nowadays, Bałuty is a place strongly involved in the creation of urban identity; the VISIBLE place. Its genius loci exists not only in the sphere of sentiments, but it is present in the city tissue. Therefore, in modern Poland Bałuty became an exceptional place. However, nowadays it is often seen as an island of poverty and pathology. A closer look at Bałuty may contribute to changing negative attitudes and common stereotypes.
Guided walking tour by Aleksandra Sumorok (download)
selected objects of the walk:
- Aleksandra Sumorok, Architerktura i urbanistyka Łodzi okresu realizmu socjalistycznego, Neriton, Warszawa 2010 (English summary).
- Aleksandra Sumorok, Socialist Realist Architecture and the Problem of Tradition. The Case of Poland and Hungary, in: “Centropa: A Journal of Central European Architecture and Related Arts” 2015, No.3, pp. 268-279.
Aleksandra Sumorok, PhD, art historian, lecturer at the Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts, Łódź. Her research focuses on 20th century Polish architecture and design. Author of many articles and the book, Architektura i urbanistyka Łodzi okresu realizmu socjalistycznego [Architecture and urban planning in Lodz of the socialist realist period].