Updated: Feb 2, 2019
Some are short some are long, just like their history, some are bright and shiny, crowded with people and cars, some are shady and cold. All of them have something in common. They are eager to tell you their stories. Who wants to listen? The willing ones, the busy pedestrian in the morning rush hour and the laid back, easy tourists on a Sunday morning. Warsaw, a town where I was born 10 years after the horrible WW II ended. Here are the streets of Warsaw.
A short history for a short street 160 meters long Ulica Kubusia Puchatka (Winnie-the-Pooh St.), is in the centre of Warsaw, near the Royal Way.
It was designed by architecture students of Warsaw Technical University headed by Zygmunt Stępiński, their teacher. Built from scratch between 1950 and 1956 the intentionwas pre-war lean-on buildings of the parallel Nowy Świat Streetand continue the pre-war tradition of bookstores and antique shops enclave, hence the plan incorporated ground floor of each building designed for such purpose. Unfortunately, the plan was never fully carried out. The most important aim of Warsaw’s committee for reconstruction was to bring Warsaw back to life, build flats for returning residents of Warsaw and migrants from other parts of Poland. They decided that some streets, or ruined buildings will be demolished to give way to new and modern architecture (not always the socialist realism, the official aesthetic doctrine of the communists) and housing development. The Warsaw evening “Express” called for a contest to name this new street, the children’s vote won and we now have Ulica Kubusia Puchatka, the world famous hero of favourite book by A. A. Milne. Situated right opposite the ministry of finance and in the centre of a busy city, it is now crowded with cars parked along the alleys.
This street, on the other hand, dates back to the 15th Century.
Originally it was a steep gore with a stream running down towards the Vistula River, and for time was used by locals as a primitive sewage and named Gnojna Street (Muck Street). Waste and disposal era ended and in 1770 and it became Bednarska (Cooper) Street.
Present name is probably derived from coopers, who originally lived and worked in buildings at the top of the street near the adjacent Krakowskie Przedmieście and the Royal Way. The street continued towards the Vistula River and it was the construction of a wooden bridge which rested on over 40 barges in the 18thC that poured some life and expansion becoming an important local road to the river crossing. At that period, the street was paved with cobble stone, new town houses were added in the middle and lower part. A few hotels were built alongside, even a modern, large bath house was erected at the river side.
Construction of a new crossing in a different location, the Kierbedzia Bridge in 1864 saw a slow decline of Bednarska’s importance. Hotels closed and moved to the nearby Krakowskie Przedmieście and the Royal Way.
Then came the II WW and as most of city’s central part suffered major destruction, mainly during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, (a few houses survived). After reconstruction, the ground floor housed small shops (linen press, decoration goods, stationery, greengrocers) all of them privately owned (time of communism, mind you) Bednarska, unfortunately, is a bit off the tourist routes, but there are a few small restaurants which specialize in pierogi.
The once flooded and swampy area at the bottom of Vistula left bank, was owned by a noble family of Eustachy and Maria Potocki in and thus the name of this district, Marienstaat (the city of Mary) In 1762 it was turned into a small settlement independent from town’s administration. A marketplace surrounded on three sides by buildings became a market place for the neighboring streets.
The beginning of 20th C saw some lively “developers” - construction and architecture – and a nine story building was erected – the tallest in Warsaw at the time. It was built right next to the Pancer’s Bridge, named after its architect.
Again, the II WW left most of it in ruins and the reconstruction was made with a loose reference to typical small Polish town of the 18th C. The market square was surrounded on 3 sides by 3-4 stories building, the 4th side left open to show the newly constructed passage, the Śląsko-Dąbrowski bridge which replaced the bombed Pancer bridge, later giving a view on the Royal Castle (reconstructed in the 1970’s).
There is a fountain in the square with sculpture of 2 boys, another of a left handed seller, with a chicken (styl neosocrealism). The walls of a kidengarden building were seggatioed as well as the face of a large clock on the side of one of the buildings. Mariensztat was the first complete housing district for working class of after war Warsaw. A record breaking 19 days took a team of bricklayers, working 24/7 to build a roof-shelled construction.
A popular in musical was shot on location, songs etc.
Later it was a “mekka” for fleamarket, exchange of vinyl records etc, stamp etc.
Now it is a quiet, off the main course with no tourist.
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