Lodz: City of Great Culture and Industry

Polish Arts Club to Present Program on Lodz:  City of Great Culture and Industry

Presenter:  Wanda Bolanowska-Higdon


      Think for a moment about the great cultural centers of Poland.  Krakow probably comes readily to mind.  Probably Warsaw, Lublin, and Gdansk do as well.  Think a while longer and you may remind yourself of Wroclaw and Poznan.

      But when asked about Lodz, many Polish-Americans probably do not think of culture.  It is fairly common knowledge that Lodz is an industrial city, established fairlyrecently.  A mental picture has likely been painted of a drab, smoky town with factories here, there, and everywhere.

      But not so, says Polish Arts Club member Wanda Bolanowska-Higdon, who lived in Lodz for 30 years after World War II.  She returned there for a vacation to visit family last summer and then came back to Buffalo with many photographs she took of her former hometown.  Her photographs look nothing like the stereotype.

     Wanda will show a selection of these photographs at the next monthly meeting of the Polish Arts Club of Buffalo at 7:30 PM. on Wed., Mar. 20 at the Harlem Road Community Center, 4255 Harlem Road, Snyder.

     Her photos include the industrialists' palaces, the textile museum, parks, cemeteries, and other architectural wonders as well as factories which are themselves architecturally significant.  They also include the Roman Catholic cathedral, an Eastern Orthodox church, and an Evangelical one.

     In addition, she will show clips from a movie, “Modlitwa na Cztery Glosy” or “Prayer in Four Voices”.  The title refers to a music festival held each year in Lodz that features the cultures and languages of the four dominant ethnic groups, Polish, Jewish, Russian, and German, that have inhabited the city.  The Poznan Boys Choir is featured in the movie as well as an all-male Russian chorus singing the traditional chants of Eastern rite churches.

     Wanda will discuss the history of the city which, believe it or not, dates back prior to the15thcentury. “The word 'lodz'”, she says, “means 'boat' and there is a legend that in old times, when people were looking for places to start settlement, farming, and so on, there was a man named Janusz.”  “He had an old boat or lodka from his father and was pooling it through the wet, muddy area until he found a small river later named 'Lodka'.  After some time of easy flowing, suddenly the boat became very heavy and Janusz had to stop...Janusz decided to pull the boat to the shore and he turned the boat upside down to make a roof over his night sleeping place.  Next day when he was looking around, he liked this area, old forest with trees for building homes and making fire, the sounds of old forest birds, and decided to stay there.  Some time later he met a nice girl and started a family and soon the village named Lodz was established!”

     The village of craftsmen was surrounded by a forest and farmland.  In1423,it became a city.  Inthe 19thcentury,it was in the Prussian sector of a partitioned Poland and in 1820 it had a population of only about 880.

     But then, because it is between two rivers, the Lodka and the Jasiena, the Government of the Duchy of Poland decided to industrialize it and designated it the center of the textile industry.  The little farming village eventually became one of the largest cities in Poland, second in population only to Warsaw.

     In celebration of its status as the textile center, the Town Hall tower's clock formerly played the melody of Moniuszko's “Przasniczka” or “The Spinner” once every hour.  On Wednesday evening, Polish Arts Club members and their guests will have an opportunity to practice singing it.

     The Polish Arts Club of Buffalo presents monthly programs and each year it holds not only a Wigilia but also a Biesiada honoring an individual who has made a significant contribution to the community.  Each year, it awards a scholarshipto a student of Polish descent studying the fine arts at an institution of higher education.  New members are always welcome and membership applications are available at each meeting.  Admission is free for members and a $5 donation is requested of non-members.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Harlem Road Community Center