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History of Lodz

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The first written record of Lodzia (the original name of the city), in which the village is granted to the bishop of Wroclaw, dates back from 1332. However, a crucial moment in the history of Lodz was granting the city charter by King Wladislaw Jagiello in 1423. Originally, Lodz was an agricultural town with wooden architecture with no fortifications or town walls. The main activity of Lodz inhabitants was still farming. At the end of the 14th century a parish church and a town hall were built at the market square.
In the prosperity period in the 16th century the population of Lodz was only about 700 people. For a few centuries Lodz had hardly developed. The 17th century was a hard period for Lodz.. The Swedish invasion, fires and epidemics contributed to the decrease in the town population. In 1793 Lodz became under the Prussian rule.
Being part of the estates of the Bishop of Wroclaw, it was secularized and taken over by the state authorities. The situation changed dramatically in 1815 when upon the Vienna Congress Treaty Lodz became incorporated into the Polish Kingdom and was under the Russian rule. It was then that developing strong and modern economy in Poland became the state's priority.
The origins of Lodz as an industrial city can be traced to the year 1820 when Rajmund Rembielinski, President of the Committee for the Mazowieckie Voivodship, was inspecting the nearby clothier workshops under construction. Lodz, with its geographical location and forests full of timber as a construction material, seemed to him as a perfect venue for establishing a clothiers' settlement. Upon the state directive of 1820, Lodz became an industrial town. The first settlement, inhabited by clothiers, was situated to the south of the old agricultural part of Lodz. It was called Nowe Miasto (New Town) – today's Plac Wolnosci.
The first settlers , skilled in weaving, dyeing and spinning, were given a plot of land and timber necessary for house building. The loans and temporary duty exemptions were addional incentives attracting people from Silesia, Bohemia, Prussia and of Jewish origin, making Lodz a multinational town. The clothier industry flourished. In the 1840s, Ludwik Geyer's factory, equipped with a steam engine, became the largest cotton factory , whereas Lodz was regarded as the second largest city in the Polish Kingdom.
lodz synagogueThe abolition of customs duties between the Polish Kingdom and Russia in 1851 was crucial for the further development of Lodz and its industry. With free trade opportunites, the manufacturers made vast fortunes on cloth production and trade. At that time the most famous manufacturers of Lodz were Izrael Kalmanowicz Poznanski and Karol Wilhelm Scheibler. In the second half of the 19th century Lodz , producing the two thirds of the whole cotton cloth yield in the Polish Kingdom, became the real ''Promised Land''. Hence, the title of the world-famous novel of Wladyslaw Reymont, the Noble Prize winner for Literature, and its theme. The factories became huge with clothiers' houses and owners' palaces. The largest ones were Karol Scheibler's factory buildings in Ksiezy Mlyn and Israel Poznanski's in Ogrodowa Street.
The 20th century was a tough period for Lodz and its industry. The factory workers' strikes of 1905 and the Germans' plundering of the factories were among the most tragic events of that time. The worse was still to come. In 1939 the German Army entered the city of Lodz. Its name was changed into Litzmannstadt (in honour of the German general famous for the 1914 Battle of Lodz). The street names were altered, too. Lots of inhabitants of Lodz were resettled to the General Gouvernement. The most represssive measures were aimed at the Jews who were relocated into the ghetto established in the Baluty district.Others died in the death-camp prison in Radogoszcz district and a children's death camp in Przemyslowa Street.
Not only the population, but the infrastructure of the city suffered heavily during World War II. After 1945 Lodz was still a well-developed textile centre, however, other branches of industry were introduced in the city. Lodz also became an educational centre with the University of Lodz and the Lodz Polytechnic established in 1945.
Upon the 1989 fall of Communism, Lodz was no longer a prosperous textile centre. The factories, the majority of which went bankrupt, were turned into seat for new shops, bank and other institutions. The neglected grey Piotrkowska Street was transformed into the city's most elegant street full of cafes, restaurants, pubs, shops, etc. The city has been flourishing. Nowadays Lodz is a thriving industrial, economic, cultural and academic centre.

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