Category Archives: WARSAW

Warsaw, Indiana and other non-Polish oddities

Polish place names crop up all over North America and other parts of the globe settled by Poles. Nothing particularly amazing about that, but when you’re lying in bed with the dreaded January virus it’s possible to become a little obsessed with looking them all up. From there it’s a small step to collecting photos of all these geographical orphans, and from there it’s more or less inevitable that one will move on to putting together a blog post about it. It’s a cycle with all the hideous inevitability of the slippery slope from sniffing magic markers to crack cocaine.

warsaw-kentucky-1

You spelled Warszawa wrong

The Warsaws

North America boasts at least 15 Warsaws. Like a big lummox I always assumed this was because people from Warsaw migrated there and couldn’t be bothered to think of a new name for their new town. In fact the proliferation of Warsaws in the United States was politically motivated. In 1794 in Poland Tadeusz Kościuszko led a rebellion against the occupying powers of the Second Partition. The rebellion failed and even more Poles found it advisable to seek a new life in the New World. Working from first hand accounts she had heard from these refugees the American author Jane Porter wrote Thaddeus of Warsaw (published 1803) an historical novel based on the uprising and the deeds of Kościuszko, who was already an heroic figure in the US for the prominent role he had played in the American Revolution (War of Independence) twenty years earlier. The novel was a huge success and all sorts of people got excited about Kościuszko all over again. Many of them got so excited that they decided Warsaw was a much better name for a town than, say, Buffalobuttock or Thiswilldoville, so they changed it. Almost none of these towns had any significant Polish population at the time.

To add to the confusion some of the brighter communities remembered that Thaddeus (Tadeusz) wasn’t actually from Warsaw and decided to call their towns Kosciusko instead (two surviving communities; one in Mississippi and one in Texas), and some Polish immigrants also decided to change the names of their towns from New Szczecin or Nowy Katowice to Warsaw for simplicity’s sake.

Warsaw, Kosciusko County, Indiana

warsaw-indiana-tool-supply

Warsaw, Indiana… they have tools.

Warsaw, Indiana is by far the largest of the surviving US communities to bear the name, with a present-day population of about 13,000.

Interesting facts: The town’s motto is “Orthopedic Capital of the World,” which is probably why you’ve never met anybody who admits to coming from there. The first resident to install a telephone was Dr. Eggleston in 1882: his number was Warsaw 1. A shady sounding character by the name of Paul E. “Mike” Hodges was mayor four times between 1952 and 1983 and I like to believe he looked a lot like Boss Hogg off the Dukes of Hazard.

Best website quote: “In addition to orthopedics, Warsaw: 1) is the home of the largest printing presses in the world, 2) home to the world’s largest manufacturer of projection screens, and 3) home of the famous CoCo Wheat’s breakfast cereal.” Just how big are those printing presses?


Warsaw, Duplin County, North Carolina

warsaw-n-carolina_200-w-hill-st

West Hill Street, Warsaw, North Carolina. Ain’t no trains a commin…

Interesting facts: Originally known as Mooresville the town changed it’s name to Warsaw in 1855. Told you it was true.

Best website quote: “During the same year, a merchant named Thaddeus Love moved to town to be the stationmaster of the Duplin Depot. At the time, a biography of a Polish national hero, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, was extremely popular. The Joane Porter book, entitled Thaddeus of Warsaw, furnished Thaddeus Love a catchy nickname. In fact, Love’s nickname was so appealing, that by 1847, the community was already known in legal circles as “Warsaw Depot.” When the town was incorporated in 1855, the community was officially designated as Warsaw.”

Warsaw, Gallatin County, Kentucky

warsaw-kentucky

Small town America… they have hardware

The third-largest of the American Warsaws, just.

Interesting facts: Erm…

Best website quote: “The city has a total area of 1.5 square miles of which 1.0 square mile is land and 0.5 square mile is water.” So, a third of your city is under water, perhaps you should be twinned with Wrocław?

Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois

warsaw-illinois_564-main-st

The Warsaw post office. You have to wonder what would happen if you posted a letter to Warsaw Illinois in Warsaw Masovia, somewhere a post office employee would just explode surely.

Interesting facts: The first settlement in the area was a fort established by future US president Zachary Taylor to fight the British. Well it’s a fact anyway.

Best website quote: “Whether just passing through or staying for awhile, there are no strangers here in Warsaw.” That might just be because nobody ever goes there.

Warsaw, Richmond County, Virginia

warsaw-virginia

Warsaw, Virginia is for lovers. You can tell I’m running out of real information can’t you

Interesting facts: “Warsaw was originally called Richmond County Courthouse. It was renamed Warsaw in 1831 in sympathy for the Polish struggle for liberty”. I’m sure the Polish struggle felt much better, if not much more liberated.

Best website quote: “To have your child seat inspected, please call 804-333-3737 for an appointment.”

Warsaw, Wyoming County, New York

warsaw-new-york

Warsaw, New York… you can turn left there

Interesting facts, website favorite thing… whatever: “Warsaw’s growth and its physical appearance was especially influenced by the salt industry. Between 1878 and 1894 Warsaw became the nation’s largest producer of table salt.” A whole sixteen years at the pinnacle of the table salt industry can be a powerful rush for a town.

Warsaw, Sumter County, Alabama

warsaw-alabama

Now that’s a small town…

warsaw-alabama1

…also not a very busy one

Warsaw, Walsh County, North Dakota

warsaw-north-dakota

There’s a definite tool, or should I say tuel, theme to these places

A genuine Polish community! Apparently it remained largely Polish-speaking until the mid 20th century. It has about 200 residents and a Catholic church (St. Stanislaus’ of course) big enough to accommodate the population of Nebraska.

Warsaw, Washington County, Mississippi

warsaw_mississippi

Warsaw, Mississippi seems to consist of just this bend in the road with its bike/tractor bar

Warsaw, Rice County, Minnesota

warsaw-minnesota1

A sign! A sign!

warsaw-minnesota

This is the kind of road that says “Why are you living in Warsaw Minnesota… get out now!”

Warsaw, Kaufman County, Texas

warsaw-texas-1

See comment above on the usefulness of roads

Interesting facts: “The site was settled before 1840 and called Warsaw Prairie. A post office operated in the settlement from 1847 through 1858. The community had a population of fifteen and two businesses in 1936. Afterward, however, Warsaw stabilized at about sixty residents; fifty-eight persons lived there in 1988 and 1990”. ‘Stabilized’ may be a polite term.

Other places

Perhaps surprisingly there seem to be very few communities named after Polish cities other than Warsaw. There are a scattering of Danzigs, Breslaus, and Stettins (the former, German names, of Gdansk, Wrocław, and Szczecin respectively) but few others. These are some of the exceptions, all of which seem to have been Polish immigrant communities.

Lublin, Taylor County, Wisconsin

lublin-wisconsin

If there’s ever a fire in the village hall they’re sorted

lublin-wisconsin2

Interesting facts: Population: 108. Churches: St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, St. Mary’s Polish National Church, Holy Assumption Orthodox Church. Town president: Bill Wisniewski.

Best website quote: “Special Features of Lublin: Pig Roast, Municipal Sewer system, Senior citizen nutrition site, …and more!”

Silesia, Carbon County, Montana

silesia-montana

The road to Silesia, Montana if you dare

Torun, Portage County, Wisconsin

torun-wisconsin

Not even a usable Google Earth image of this place

Torun, Wisconsin is part of the larger originally Polish community of Portage County. Other communities in the area include Plover, Ellis, Amherst, Custer, and Polonia.

Breslau, Pierce County, Nebraska

breslau-nebraska

Maybe it was a town once

Danzig, McIntosh County, North Dakota

danzig-north-dakota2

Danzig, North Dakota in about 1915

danzig-north-dakota

Danzig, North Dakota cemetery today. Either headstones weren’t in fashion or this was an undead community.

Clearly a German-speaking community, but included here for completeness.

Best website quote:
“I am writing this history of my hometown, Danzig, North Dakota, simply because I do not want it to be forgotten.”

That other Poland

poland-kiribati

If you must live in a Poland, why not this one?

The Pacific island of Kiritimati, formerly known as Christmas Island, has four settlement: Poland, London, Paris, and Banana (honest). Poland, Kiribati has a population of about 250 and apparently got its name thanks to the efforts of a Polish sailor who helped the local inhabitants build an irrigation system.

poland-kiribati1

Poland, from above

In the 1950s Britain put a bit of a crimp in property prices on the island by conducting a series of nuclear weapons tests there (Operation Grapple). At a dull moment in dinner-table conversation you can point out the Britain once nuked Christmas, Poland, and London all at the same time.

If you’re reading this and you’re from one of these places say hello, and I apologize in advance for taking the mick.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saying something nice, for once.

Krakowskie Przedmieście is one of the oldest streets in Warsaw, having started out as a trade route in the 15th century. The rest of the history you can read in the Wiki article!

When I arrived in Warsaw and for many years afterwards Krak Przed was a potentially very nice street spoiled by too much traffic and too little walking space. It also looked like it needed a great deal of TLC.

Well it finally got that TLC when at the end of September 2006 the renovation works began. They spent the first year making a horrible nasty mess of the place, screwing up both pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the process. We endured months of obstacle course pavements as demonstrated in this shot taken almost exactly one year ago:

Slowly, very slowly, the new Krak Przed started to take shape with the first noticeable improvement being the elimination of the used car dealership that masqueraded as a car park right next to Ziggy’s column! Through the mud and fencing it was obvious that the rest of the works were going to bring big improvements too. If it ever finished.

Well, it was finished, eventually. I’m not sure when exactly because I’ve been meaning to take a photo-walk down there for ages but I suppose it must have been very close to two years after it started – i.e. late summer 2008. It’s worth noting that “two years” is quite a good measuring stick for messy things in Warsaw – the airport T2 was two years late, the excavations under Saski palace took two years to finish, Krak Przed took two years to renovate, PiS were in power for two years……….hmmmm.

So, here are some snaps of the new Krak Przed. I’m very impressed with it. It has transformed the area and finally brought the street up to the kind of standard that one would expect to see of such a thoroughfare in a significant European capital city. The traffic is minimal, the pavements are wide, flat and interesting. There are flowerpots, trees, benches, art….I love it.


This last picture shows one of the glass blobs that are scattered around the street displaying the very accurate paintings of Mr. Bellotto. As everyone knows, these were used extensively when reconstructing Warsaw after the war and they do make for meaningful breaks along the Krak Przed stroll route. Personally, I hate these paintings with a passion in terms of anything besides a record of what it used to look like. As a work of art, something to hang on your wall and look at every day – forget it. They are the things you find on the wall of an old, incontinent and slightly senile aunt surrounded by a garish frame and covered with dust. The real Canalettos are better but still deadly boring. What’s funny about these paintings of Warsaw is how everyone thinks they are by THE Canaletto – the artist who’s paintings are worth loads of moolah. Not so.

Bernardo Bellotto (1720-1780) was a Venetian painter but only the nephew and pupil of the renowned artist Canaletto. He often worked under the name of Caneletto when outside of Italy, presumably to make the most of his family connections. I notice that the paintings now displayed on Krak Przed also bear the name Canaletto in brackets so the camouflage continues – “Gee, look honey, Canaletto painted Warsaw!”. Even the Warsaw Voice (article linked to above) was fooled;

“….four glass cubes will appear with reproductions of paintings by Canaletto.”

My last point of interest on the walk was this thing;

This is located at the top of ul. Bednarska at ‘Hoover Square’. I know the Poles make great cleaners but naming parts of the city after vacuum cleaners? Anyway, this building has the appearance of a rusty bus-shelter and is described on the information board as “Zagospodarowanie Skweru Hoover’a i zabudowa obiektami kubaturowymi”. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what this will eventually be? I’m guessing a bar / coffee shop as if memory serves there always used to be some refreshment here in the warmer months at least.

For the Sherlocks amongst you, you might like to join the race to determine the identities of the two people who occupied the coffins they dug up while doing the works!

By the way, Bednarska is a nice street to wander down, if you like mountain climbing!

It goes from Krak Przed down to the Mariensztat part of town and it all has a good atmosphere. It would help if they could stop changing the tenants of the shops/restaurants down Bednarska as it gets a bit confusing when you go there for pancakes and end up with a choice of two pierogi bars instead.

Tagged , , , ,

The circus is in town!

Roll up, roll up!

Cyrk Zalewski is back in Warsaw, fertilising the same patch of ground they always do between Towarowa and Wolska. Searching through my photo album I see that we were there almost exactly 2 years ago today. Zosia enjoyed it, we all did in fact, but I think she’ll get more from it now that she’s 5 1/2 as opposed to only 3 1/2.



The short sleeved tops suggest the weather was better two years ago than it is right now!

You can get tickets online or at the ticket office on site. The boxes (loża) that are nearer the area can only be purchased at the site and cost 100 PLN adult and 30 PLN kids. The general seats, not numbered, cost 60 adult and 20 kids or a family ticket for 100 (two adults + two kids).

Whip me! Whip me! Madame Whiplash, fresh from her duties at the Labour Party conference in the UK.

They have lions, tigers, seals, elephants, horses, clowns, the wheel of death, trapeze artists and other things I can’t translate like linoskoczkowie and dżygici ???

Of course, if you’re against the whole idea of performing animals then you’d better not go. I’m only going myself because I heard that a few of the animals are dab hands at installing neostrada internet connections and I’m thinking they may be a faster option than waiting for TPSA to get their own circus act together.

Apparently, the animals make enough money on the side doing this work that they’re opening a circus of their own where animals manage everything and TPSA staff perform tricks in the arena. Now that I would by tickets for!

Tagged , , ,

A flavour of Warsaw

The sun was shining and I was walking with my camera so………

Palace of Culture with Złota 44 tower cranes. Not a shot you’re likely to be able to get for too much longer:

Rondo 1 window cleaning

Old fashioned sklep, sign and display cabinet. These guys sell all those souvenirs you know you really need to have like painted wooden storks and stuff

How to get to Lublin for 25 PLN (more popular than I would have ever imagined and with buses leaving more frequently than every hour in both directions!)

Sala Kongresowa, early evening

Tagged , , ,

“Etiuda” is Polish for “Disgraceful”

We’re back on Polish soil and there’s only one thing I want to say, that is holiday-related, of Polish interest and that is in the post’s title – Warsaw airport, Etiuda terminal is a complete disgrace and I’m shocked that the use of this cow shed is allowed to continue.

When we left Warsaw we first went to Terminal 1 because that’s what the tickets said. We arrived 2 hours before our flight time. T1 was empty and peaceful, perhaps three check in counters being used. The travel rep then told us the tickets were wrong and we should haul our 59 kilos down to Etiuda. Doom. Gloom.

We arrived at the cow shed to find a queue out the doors of the shed and half way down the pavement towards T1. We waited in the queue for a very long time and eventually made it inside. By this time they were calling boarding for our flight and people were running around asking if anyone was going to Malaga. They had previously been running around asking about other destinations and then pushing those people into the queue before us, hence the fact that we were now about to miss our flight.

They told us to “just go to the front”. This then causes multiple arguments with other people who are as desperate for the queue to end as we are but who’s flight leaves 10 minutes after yours. The agents on duty are of no use at all and are as fed up of this ridiculous cow shed as they are of the passengers.

We finally make a check-in desk where the very helpful bitch tells us that although we are overall under the baggage allowance, one of our bags is 2kg over the individual bag allowance. My sense of humour having left me some considerable time ago, I ask her where I might find anything that explains what the weight limit is for one bag and what (the ****) I’m supposed to do about it right now!!

I am forced to remove a small bag that was inside the big bag. The big bag is now under the mysterious limit but I’m carrying two pieces of hand-baggage. If anyone challenges me on the two pieces, I’m ready to draw blood and I’m not too fussy who’s blood it is.

We eventually get on the flight although our family of three is given seats spread all over the plane. On the plane, we manage to resolve that but only thanks to other’s goodwill.

Etiuda is a disgrace. It brings shame on Warsaw, Poland, the Polish government, the Polish people. It has to be the biggest joke in the world of international (tourist) transport. I felt this way going out, I feel even stronger about it having flown back through Malaga airport. Malaga, a hot little donkey sanctuary in southern Spain has an airport better than T1 Warsaw, a new airport being built that will be better than T2 Warsaw and where something like Etiuda would just be used as a huge public toilet (for the donkeys of course!). Strangely enough, nobody in Malaga (or arriving in T1 Warsaw) had any problem with the weight of the big bag that was certainly no lighter on the way back than it was in the cow shed on the way out.

Warsaw, Poland’s capital city, has Etiuda. (In this context, the word “Etiuda” needs to be regarded as being similar to “the plague”, “a cholera epidemic”, “filthy public toilets” or “rabid dogs roaming the streets”) It would be unacceptable for Poland to subject its own citizens to this farce but when it funnels thousands of visitors through this terrible experience you have to ask just what sort of message is Poland trying to give the outside world? Well, some visitors are not impressed!

Even when it does not need to keep using it, T1 can surely cope very adequately, it still keeps the black-hole open. One has to ask the question, WHY?

If you’d like to read more general comments on the Andalusian holiday then you need to go to 20 east.

Tagged ,