Friday, February 13, 2009


The cities in Poland are quite different for the cities in the US.  The most striking difference is where the edge of the cities begin.  Most cities in the States have an urban center, then spread out into neighborhoods in the surrounding area, then into some huge, vast plane of suburbs.  Let me state this once (I'll probably state it a few more times.)  Suburbia is my definition of damnation.  Row after row of identical houses that lack any distinction, warmth, or soul.  Block stores and hideous strip malls blight the landscape and suck away any beauty that the land once held.  Endless miles of parking lots stretch into the distance, a sea of blacktop with an armada of automobiles.  This is not a good place.
Warsaw is slightly different.  There's the urban center and it spreads away to neighborhoods, which are mostly residential.  These neighborhoods are mostly blocks of apartments, but there are some places where there are houses and no high rises.  While there exist gigantic box stores like Tesco and Leclerc, most monstrous stores are safely integrated into the malls.
When I was teaching in Bialoleka, I was surprised at how quickly the city gave way to semi-countryside and farms.  To the south, the city abruptly ends at Kabaty, but continues sporadically on the other side.  To my shame, I've never really been to the far north or Warsaw, but I hear tell that it also ends pretty much in the same way at Kabaty.
There are outposts of urbanization beyond the main limits of the city.  OS. Patio is mostly just houses and is always growing: a neo-suburbia.  But these places have a little more integrity than the postage stamp yards and the endless rows of mcmansions, each with an SUV parked in the driveway.  There's no mass exodus (white flight) from the urban centers to the suburban havens.  To my knowledge, gated communities have not made their presence felt, nor has the strip mall reared its hideous head.


Michael Dembinski said...

Jeziorki - no McMansions, no endless rows of identical terraced houses - a real gem of rus in suburbe - and less than ten miles from the very centre of Warsaw.

PolishMeKnob said...

Very beautiful pictures!