Tag Archives: Łódź

What's in a Name? – Place-names

Having looked at male and female names and how they can sometimes be internationalised, it’s now time to look at some of the place-names, street names and locations in Poland. I find the history behind names interesting, as some are chosen deliberately to honour a person or an event, while others seem to be absolutely random, and even the most curious mind cannot understand the reasoning for choosing such a name. For the most part, street names that I have seen tend to honour a person (such as Jozef Pilsudski, Marie Skłodowska-Curie or Ludwik Zamenhof) or they represent a type of memorial to a historical event, with military history featuring prominently. Streets commemorating Westerplatte, Monte Cassino, Plac Bohaterów Getta and even Bohaterów Wietnamu all feature in Kraków.

“All of the streets in this direction should bear my name!”

Despite the attempts to give meaning and gravitas to placenames and street names, I sometimes get the feeling that those with responsibility for providing possible names suddenly got very bored or decided to have some fun with providing names to be applied. The following are examples of names that I have found funny or interesting* where I guess the creative juices were flowing when creating the names.

*Funny and interesting being subjective, of course

Where the streets have no name?

Picture the scene – a committee meeting in some Krakowian urząd building – the late 1960’s

Urzędnik #1: “Ugh, is it this time of the year again…? More new streets to be named. Where are all these people coming from?”

Urzędnik #2: “Hey, I’ve got to go and meet a man about a dog. He’s told me there will be some whiskey involved. Can we make this quick?”

Urzędnik #1: “Yeah, let’s do this.”

Urzędnik #2: “Ok – how about ‘lovely’, ‘nice’, and ‘last’?”

Urzędnik #1: (sarcastically)Sure… and ‘nursery’ and ‘gardening” too while we are doing it?”

Urzędnik #2: “Ok, I’ve signed the document to submit the names”

Urzędnik #1: “Oh… crap. Well, maybe they won’t notice…”

Street names by committee

Thus you have names of streets such as Ładna (nice), Śliczna (lovely), Ostatnia (last), Szkółkowa (nursery) and Orgodnicza (gardening) – all within a few minutes walk of each other. This also adds to names such as Duża Góra (High Mountain street) and Długa (Long street) found in Kraków as well. I certainly believe some kind of alcohol had to be involved when some of these names were being considered.

A Town Called Malice

Finding names for streets can probably be seen as a difficult task, as even the smallest towns will have numerous streets and eventually you will run out of names of battles and heroes to apply the name from. However, what I have found more interesting have been examples where the name of the town or village is one that is quite funny and interesting.

A few have always caught my eye, with specific examples such as Łódź (meaning Boat) and Piotrków Trybunalski (Peter’s Tribunal) being interesting, as they seem to be very individual and specific in their meaning. However, while travelling in the Polish countryside I have seen some very interesting place names, such as:

Biała Wielka – Great White: “Great white… hope? shark? piece of paper?”

Klucze – Keys: “So that’s where I left them!”

Zielonki – Green: “Recently renamed from Environmentally Hazardous”

And these are just some quick examples – there seem to be thousands more when you consider all of the little towns and villages scattered throughout Poland.

“I live in Boat! No – not a boat-house, but Boat-town”


The final category considers items that are interesting mostly because of their meaning in a foreign language, usually in English for me at least. For example,  an immature smile comes to my face when I see a signpost for Szyce and I try to pronounce it. Then of course, there is the chance to go to Hel while you are still alive! Its location on the end of a peninsula north of Gdansk makes it interesting in itself, and it is popular as a holiday destination for Poles also. However, the below picture shows that someone has a sense of humour when it comes to public transport! Or perhaps alcohol was involved here as well…!

“You’re going straight to Hel – it’s the final stop. Have a nice day!”

So those are my examples I have seen of funny and interesting place names and street names within Poland. I am sure they are not the only ones, so feel free to submit your examples!

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Mystery location in Poland (solved)

The mystery has now been solved, more or less. Stunning work from Polandian readers. See the end of the post for more information.

A little mystery for Polandian-reader detectives. Quiz master Scatts is taking a sabbatical this week, and this is in fact more of an appeal for information than a quiz since I don’t actually know the answers.

The following series of nine pictures are from a mystery source, which I will reveal later, and were taken in the late 1980s or early 1990s. I’m 99 percent sure they are of locations in Poland, but I don’t know where. I should point out that my knowledge of Polish towns and cities is far from encyclopedic, so this might be incredibly easy.

Picture 1.



Picture 2.



Picture 3.



Picture 4.



Picture 5.



Picture 6.



Picture 7.



Picture 8.



Picture 9.



I’d appreciate it if anyone could tell me where these places are. Are they all of the same town or city?

Where did I get these pictures? The answer is interesting in a geeky kind of way and has a cinematic theme. More than that I will not say for the time being. Extremely eagle-eyed uber-geeks might get a clue from the pictures themselves, but I’m not holding my breath.


24 hours later

Some answers:

The sterling efforts (and random guesses) of our remarkably intelligent, good looking, and morally upstanding readers have shed some valuable light on these locations.

Pictures 1–4 are definitely of the market square in the town of Duszniki-Zdrój in the extreme southwest of Poland (thanks guest).


Picture 7 is definitely of the front gates of something called the Grohman Factory, which seems to have made barrels (thanks again to guest).


Picture 6 is strongly suspected to be somewhere in Łodz. Picture 9 is still a bit of a mystery since I’m informed by a Łodz native with a map that there is no ul. Środkowa in Łodz.

Picture 5 and Picture 8 remain to be identified, as far as I’m aware.

Where are the pictures from?

The other day I watched Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes, Jon Ronson’s intriguing 2008 documentary on the legendary film director. Ronson ducks the usual approach of interviewing family members, technicians, and movie geeks and instead opts to pick through the thousands of cardboard boxes cluttering up Kubrick’s home. The documentary follows some of the threads he uncovers. It’s a good watch. I’d include a link to the upload on google video but I’m scared of being sued. Not that I’m saying there is such an upload you understand *ahem*

Anyway, the point is this: about two-thirds of the way through the documentary there’s a segment about one of the semi-legendary unmade Kubrick movies called Wartime Lies. In the early 1990s Kubrick was apparently researching a holocaust movie based on the book of the same title. Ronson splices in a montage of shots taken from the photographic research he has unearthed in one of the boxes. “That looks a lot like Poland” I thought to myself. And so it was.

I warned you it was pretty geeky.

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English-speaker’s guide to the 8th of March: the day when Polish women come out of the shadows

The 8th of March is Women’s Day in Poland – an annual event that used to be just another opportunity for men to buy their girlfriends, wives and mothers flowers and chocolates. For some time, however, it’s been growing as the biggest festival of women’s rights. As an opportunity for women to voice their opinions and persuade people that women have some common interests. That they should take matters in their own hands: do business, get into politics, demand equality within the family, in the workplace etc.

Manifa 1 Manifa 2

As the manifesto of 2008 Toruń Manifa (march of protesters) says, ‘Women are everywhere, they are 50% of the society. Yet their voice is not being heard. Women issues and problems women have are ignored and marginalised. We are fed up with this. Therefore it’s high time we did something about it.’

Among the demands, this movement voices, are: proper sex education in schools; easy access to contraception; abolishing the gender role stereotypes that people are socialised to; right to decide about oneself and one’s body; no more treating women as sexual objects; no more treating women like little girls whose opinion doesn’t matter; no more ignoring the needs of women who are elderly, poor, homosexual, of different ethnicity, of low social standing, handicapped or in some other way not-matching the mainstream stereotype of what is feminine.

27000.jpg 26986.jpg

This is a grass-roots democratic movement with no one single nationwide organiser. In each town a local committee forms itself, comprising NGOs, university gender studies scientific associations, informal groups or individuals. Therefore these events should be rather seen as a wider movement powered by various people. This tends to be difficult to comprehend for the media, who are used to dealing with a clear hierarchy.

Manifas are cheerful and fun events with lots of open-minded people, colourful clothes, and a serious message. It is a good idea to join this lot in a weekend, you might meet some interesting people. It happens sometimes that a counter demonstration, in this or that city, are organised by nationalist youth groups, who might shout hateful slogans. Be warned – if you’re a sensitive person. Yet there is no danger, as the police are always well prepared to ensure everyone’s safety.

Join the action in your city with this All – Poland guide:
This post will be updated when further news are released.


G D A Ń S K / S O P O T / G D Y N I A

8 March manifa launches at 14:00 from Cinema City Krewetka in Gdańsk, ul. Karmelicka 1. Colourful and loud march of women will be accompanied by samba sounds

Other events in Tricity:

7 March, 16:00 Exhibition opening “Women in Sejm”, Biblioteka Główna UG (University of Gdańsk Library), ul. Wita Stwosza 53, Gdańsk

7 March, 17:00 Political debate with Iwona Guzowska (Civic Platform),Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka (The Left and Democrats), Anna Kornacka (Women’s Party) and Beata Maciejewska (Greens 2004). Wydział Prawa i Administracji (Law and Administration Department), Audytorium C, ul. Bażyńskiego 6, Gdańsk

8 March 20:00, Afterparty at Faktoria, ul. Rzemieślnicza 26, Sopot.
Programme includes
– Hubert Bilewicz’s presentation on homoerotic motifs in paintings of Tamara Lempicka.
– Exhibition of paintings by Anna Mackiewicz “Woman, woman, woman…”
– Presentation of feminist cartoon satire
– Music by DJ A.A.



8 March Manifa launches at 15:00 on the corner of ul. Łodzianki (former Piotrkowska) and Pasaż Włókniarki (former Schiller) with unveiling of a Woman of Łódź (Łodzianka) monument.

Other events in Łódź:

1 March 21:00, Party raising funds for Manifa, Drag Shows, Club la Foufoune

6 March 18:00,  Iza Desperak lecture “Why a flower is not enough for Eves?” at UŁ Ethnology Institute, ul. Jaracza 78, room 35

7 March (time tba), Women’s Lemon Night + opening of an exhibition of photographs entitled “Our ladies”, Cinema Cytryna

Workshops for teachers, educators and leaders at Centrum Praw Kobiet (Centre for Women’s Rights), ul. Piotrkowska 115, left wing, first floor. Participants will receive certificates.
7 March 14:00 – “Gender and human rights in youth education”
7 March 16:30 – antihomophobic workshop “Teacher without prejudices”
8 March 12:00 – “Intermediate Gender”



8 March Manifa launches at 14:00 from Barbakan.

Other events in Krakow:

3 March: 20:00, Party “Feminism the Slovakian way”, Kawiarnia Naukowa (ul. Jakuba 29). Knohe band from Bratislava, doing electronic music. Best outfit competition – fancy dress encouraged.

4March 17:00, Film screening: “Anatomie de l’enfer”, Kino 18, ul. Floriańska 18, 2nd floor

4 March 19:00, “Seeking the traces of goddess” – discussion forum at eFKka foundation, ul. Krakowska 26/1 (in Polish)

5 March18:00, Film screening: “Iron Jawed Angels”, the herstory of Alice Paul + discussion moderated by Agata Teutsch. Klub Bunkra Sztuki.

8 March 20:00, The Dolls party, Cafe Stranger, ul. Dietla 97.

15-16 March, WenDo workshop – self-defence and assertive attitude class for women. For details contact agata.teutsch@wendo.org.pl.


2104.jpgP O Z N A Ń

8 March Manifa launches at 14:30 near Stary Marych (corner of Półwiejska and Strzelecka), will go through Stary Rynek to Plac Wolności.

Slogan: POzostaje nam tylko ironia (All we have left is irony)

This year’s manifa in Poznań will concentrate critically on the current government’s attitude to women’s issues.

Other events in Poznań:

7 March, 19:00, Debate with politicians on the situation of women after the 2007 election, (Głośna Samotność Bookshop, ul. Ratajczaka 18)

8 March, 17:30, Dia de Mujeres, Głośna Samotność Bookshop, ul. Ratajczaka 18

8 March, 21:00, Afterparty in Klubokawiarnia Meskal, ul. Nowowiejskiego 17 (corner of Młyńska)

9 March, 12:00, Open information meeting about breast cancer and cervical cancer prevention. Ośrodek Babiląd, ul. Bukowska 31/6


Manifa ToruńT O R U Ń

8 March Manifa will launch at the Old Town Market Square near Copernicus statue (at 14:00), going through ul. Szeroka, ul. Świętej Jadwigi to New Town Market Square and back.

Slogan: Kobiety wyjdźcie z cienia (Women, come out of the shadow!)

Other events in Toruń:

4 March 18:30: “Dakini and the Guardian Lady – the angry face of womanhood in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism” lecture at the English Department of the Nicolaus Copernicus University. Collegium Maius – Wydział Filologiczny, Fosa Staromiejska 11, room 311 (2nd floor).

6 March 19:00: Movie screening: “If Walls Could Talk 2”, Przestrzeń Alternatywna LaLucza, ul. Podmurna 30/4, (part of Women’s cinema month at LaLucza).

7 March (time tba): Interdisciplinary conference: “Female perspectives: Woman – a gender, a phenomenon, a human or a subject of research?”. Various speakers. Muzeum Okręgowe, Kamienica pod Gwiazdą, Old Town Market Square.

8 March 20:00: Afterparty (entrance fee 3zł) at NRD/Galeria Dla… ul. Browarna 6.
Exhibitions of works by Xavier Bayle (“More Than Bodies” – what is woman’s body?) and photographs by Beaty Ziemowska and Katarzyna Jankowska (“Kobiety na Rozbracie” – )
Performances by Xavier Bayle (“History of one liberation” – Polish version of the bobbits, as Mickewicz would have never described it); by To Masz Cebo (live installation “TEST”); and by Dagmara Pochyła (installation with performative participation of the artist “NEWS”)
Party: DJane LU: experimental, electronica, breakcore, drill, digital hardcore, hard step with Drag Queens and Drag Kings.


Manifa SilesiaS I L E S I A
( K A T O W I C E)

8 March Manifa launches at 11.00 from the square in front of Teatr Śląski in Katowice.

Slogan: Solidarność jest rodzaju żeńskiego (Solidarity is of feminine gender)

Manifa in Silesia will stress the need for solidarity between women. Solidarity above differences: in class, financial status, education, profession, health, political or religious denomination, cultural background, age or sexual orientation.

Organisers encourage to bring bicycles, noise-making devices and fancy hats.

Anyone wishing to lend her hand in preparing signs, and other manifa gear, is asked to pop to Złoty Osioł Restaurant (ul. Mariacka 1) at 9:00 am.



9 March (!!!) Manifa launches 12:00 from Plac Lotników through Plac Grunwaldzki, City Council building to Rusałka (where Marzan, the male version on Marzanna, will be drowned).

Slogan: Świadoma kobieta to zdrowa kobieta (Woman aware of her rights is a healthy woman)

This year’s Manifa in Szczecin will concentrate on health issues. Women often dedicate their lives to both housework and professional work, taking care of their family they ignore their own health. Many conditions are therefore discovered too late to be treated. Women are uninformed in health matters due to lack of accessible information, caused by insufficient government policies in health awareness. Unsuitably equipped state surgeries, worsening image of medical staff, long waiting list – discourage women from taking interest in their health. Szczein’s Manifa will also stress the problem of infertility and IVF. Infertility treatment should be included free of charge within the state healthcare system. Prenatal examination should be available to all women.


Manifa WwaW A R S A W

8 March Manifa launches at 12:00 from Plac Defilad near Teatr Dramatyczny.

Slogan: Wielki Marsz Solidarności Kobiet.

Other events in Warsaw:

8 March, 18:00: Post-manifa chill-out. Sylwia Chutnik promotes her book “Kieszonkowy Atlas Kobiet” (“Pocket atlas of women”), Świetlica Raster, ulica Hoża 42 m.8

More from Warsaw to be announced.

Read my other posts.

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