Monday, December 26, 2016
Nowa Huta, a Planned Communist Town - and it Looks Great (Krakow, Poland)
One example of this central planning was the construction of the immense Huta Im. W. I. Lenina steelworks east of Krakow. But to house thousands of workers, a new town was needed. As written in the Nowa Huta District Guide, "Nowa Huta - once an autonomous town, presently a Krakow neighborhood - arose in the 1950s, and represents the fullest, most interesting realization of the socialist realism architectural ethos. The unique urban layout of Nowa Huta - surprisingly monumental and symmetrical - has been given the status of Krakow's historical monuments."
"Its wide streets and well-furnished houses were foreseen as the birthplace of a new socialist society planned by the Communist Party leaders." Today, the wide streets, mature trees, and neat apartments give the community a gracious and well-ordered look. Compared to the rows of nasty high-rise people's housing I have seen in Moscow, Bogota, south Chicago, and Rockaway Beach, Nowa Huta looks pretty good.
The central square where the main roads converge is now known as Plac Centralny im. Ronalda Reagana. Never in their wildest capitalist nightmares could the original designers have dreamed that a main boulevard of their planned socialist reality community would be renamed aleja Solidarności, after a political movement that eventually freed Poland from communism. And even more amazing, the main plaza was renamed after the American president who contributed greatly to the downfall of the Soviet Union and its corrupt puppet states in Eastern Europe.
I took these photographs with a Rolleiflex 3.5E twin-lens camera with 75mm ƒ/3.5 Xenotar lens on Kodak Tri-X 400 film. Film looks right for historical topics like this.