This is Nowa Huta, a planned socialist city to house the workers at the Lenin Steelworks, about 30 minutes by tram from Krakow. The young man is Kyril, our guide through this gigantic foundary and its workers' housing, deliberately situated near Krakow to offset the bourgeois conservative (and Catholic) traditions of the Austrian Galicia. Kyril's grandparents came to Nowa Huta. Alas, the foundry and its enormous apartment blocks were developed on some of the best agricultural land in southern Poland. More catastrophic was the pollution Nowa Huta generated, affecting generations of workers and harming all the buildings of Krakow. During PRL (Peoples' Poland or communist times) the apartments were large and food supplies plentiful (late 1950s to 1980s). The foundry still functions, but under foreign ownership and employs only a fraction of the workers. Young people and artists are starting to rent vacant apartments because housing in Krakow itself is so costly and hard to obtain. As an experiment in planned housing, Nowa Huta is fascinating; its layout is geometric, not unlike 18th-19th century experiments in urban design. Grocery stores, elementary schools, shops were planned for each section of the development, along with broad tree-lined boulevards through which police could easily be deployed. The enormous statue of Lenin once in the central square was bought by Sweden and now stands in Stockholm---where people have more of a sense of humor about the "workers' paradise."
Theodosia (Teddy) Robertson
- Raised in California, graduated from Dominican College, Phd in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Indiana University. Teaching at UM-Flint since 1986 in the History Department. Retired 2012, but continues to love teaching (online), writing, and research.