Giszowiec in Katowice
Giszowiec is an eastern district of the city of Katowice, created as a coal miners’ settlement in 1907. Initially consisting of about 3,300 miners and their families, the district’s population have grown over the years to over 18,000. Although Giszowiec’s architectural originality suffered major damages in 1970s and 1980s due to large scale urbanization, its early unique character can be still felt in the surviving miners’ housings, the marketplace, numerous individual buildings and structures, as well as the relatively well preserved general design of a “Garden city”.
This workers’ colony designed by the same pair of brothers responsible for Nikiszowiec, Georg and Emil Zillmann , took inspiration from the theories of Ebenezer Single, creating a ‘garden city’ for Katowice’s miners. Accommodating 600 families were a web of streets spinning from Pod Lipami Square. Modelled on English village dwellings the detached, steep-roofed houses came with electricity, and were built with the miners’ families in mind. Completed in 1910 the project included a communal laundry, bathing facilities for wives and offspring, three schools, hostels for single men, a theatre and a strict set of by-laws ensuring the tone would not be ruined; these included statutes governing everything from which plants could be grown to which animals could be kept. Possession of a goat, for instance, would be enough to see you expelled from this Utopian setting. In 1927 a further American-style colony was added, though sadly Gizowiec is a shadow of what it once was. In the 1970s moves commenced to build new accommodation for the workers, and you can just about guess the shape and size they took. Nonetheless, what has been preserved merits the visit, and stands as a super tribute to a foregone time.