We invite you to familiarize yourself with the history of the tenement house. Some of the facts or circumstances described in the text were documented in the photos that we placed in the last gallery. We especially recommend taking a look at the numerous advertisements placed further down in the gallery, partly from the times when Łódź was still a multicultural city.
For lovers of the old days, the following story of the energy industry in Łódź and the biographies of a few people connected with the tenement house at Piotrkowska 37 may turn out to be extremely interesting.
The Dawid Szmulewicz tenement house at 37 Piotrkowska Street in Łódź.
The property at 37 Piotrkowska Street belonged in 1887 to Icek Lejb Kon. At that time, there was a one-story front building with an adjoining one-story outbuilding, and from the southern border there was a three-story outbuilding.
In 1894, Dawid Szmulewicz became the owner of the plot. At the request of Szmulewicz, in 1903, the architect from Łódź, Gustaw Landau-Gutenteger, developed a design for a new tenement house, with a facade in the then fashionable Art Nouveau style, with outbuildings. The project was implemented as early as 1904. An impressive five-storey tenement house was built, built on a rectangular plan, with a bay on the axis, with two outbuildings on the west, inclined to the front building, and one transverse closing the yard from the west. The outbuildings are three-story with attics.
A characteristic element of the tenement house is a three-story bay window supported by volute supports above the ground floor, emphasizing the central axis of the building. It is closed by a loggia covered with a canopy topped with a slender dome covered with a cupola with a soft arch. The lintels of the façade windows are decorated with an Art Nouveau ornament: leaves, ribbons, lion heads and female masks (mascarons). The windows on the first and fourth floors are rectangular, narrow and tall. The windows of the first and fourth floors and the windows in the upper part of the bay window are closed with a segmental - flattened arch. The architect also designed the door and window joinery, gate and grilles with a delicate drawing characteristic of Art Nouveau. The decoration of the entrance gate, the stair balustrade, as well as the stucco decor of the rooms and staircases have been preserved. The ground floor of the tenement house has been rebuilt. The interior is dominated by geometrical motifs, emphasizing both the vertical and horizontal division of the façade. The ground floor has always had a commercial character, and the upper storeys have been typically residential.
History of the inhabitants
He lived in a tenement house (Schatz), pharmacist and sports activist. Szac was born in 1873, he was the son of Uri and Róża Tal. He was the owner of a pharmacy at 12 Cegielniana Street (today Jaracza), opened in 1905, a mineral water factory "Distillation" at 4 Milsza Street (today M. Kopernika Street) and a chemical and bacteriological laboratory, initially at 49 Nowospacerowa Street (now 21 Więckowskiego Street), later at Piotrkowska 50. After his death, the laboratory became the property of Aleksander (Alon) Russak and the widow and minor children of the deceased. Nachum Szac was a long-term member of the board of the Society of Jewish Secondary Schools and the deputy chairman of the Łódź Jewish Gymnastic and Sports Society "Bar-Kochba" in Łódź. Nachum Szac died in 1924 and was buried in the cemetery at Bracka Street.
Szaja Lajb Hamburski, the owner of a bookshop, printing house, paper warehouse and bindery, also lived at 37 Piotrkowska Street. He was born in 1874 in Łódź, he was the son of Mojżesz and Perła née Prusinowska, brother of Emanuel and Mendel, also the owners of the printing house. In 1897 he opened a small bookstore and stationery store. After two years, he expanded his commercial activity, opening a material and stationery store at 178 Piotrkowska Street, and then the "Merkury" company at 42 Piotrkowska Street, where apart from the store there was a small printing house with a bookbinding workshop and a trade book factory. He was married to Hinda née Bezbrodów and he had children, all born in Łódź: Natalia, Estera Blima, Anna, Sara and Majer. He lived in the Łódź ghetto with his wife at 41 Lutomierska Street. He died in 1941 and was buried in the cemetery at Bracka Street.
There was also a textile company at Piotrkowska 37, "Bracia Mokrscy", co-owned by Jakub Lando. Lando was born in 1894 in Łódź, the son of Abram and Chana Frajden. He was a member of the board of the Jewish Community. In marriage with Ruchla née Lando, he had sons: Wolf Benjamin and Jeszua. After the occupation of Łódź by the occupiers, he became a member of the Council of Elders, approved on November 5, 1939 by the German occupation authorities. During the inaugural session of the Council (November 11, 1939), he was arrested by the Gestapo and taken to the police prison in Radogoszcz, then released. In the ghetto, he lived with his family at 17 Franciszkańska Street, then (from 1943) 13 Żydowska Street (today the Warsaw Ghetto Fighters). His and his family's further fate is unknown.
In 1918, along with several partners, Szmerel Lewi, a merchant and social activist, opened a large shipping office at 37 Piotrkowska Street. He was born in 1889 in Warta in the religious family of Mendel, a factory owner in Pabianice. He was the great-grandson of Chaim Urbach, rabbi of Łęczyca, author of the collection "Diwrei Chaim", and grandson of Szloma Urbach, rabbi of Kleczewski. Lewi worked in the "Rekord" shipping company until 1924. He was also interested in social life. He participated in the "Miszmorim" ("Guard") and "Night Ambulance" sections, accompanied by the care and help of "Linas Hacedek", where he was a board member for many years. Thanks to his help, the company received its first car.
Lampiarz and the history of the energy sector in Łódź
In front of the tenement house at 37 Piotrkowska Street there is "Lampiarz". The monument commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Łódź energy industry, which fell on September 18, 2007. Lampiarz, the nameless electrician, was unveiled on September 21, 2007. The monument shows a stylish lantern and an electrician (lamp holder) standing on a ladder supported by a pole. Next to it, there is a bag, which is also a seat-bench. The monument was placed in front of the former display of a luxury store called "American Diamant Palace", which was lit for the first time in Łódź on the evening of May 7, 1906 by electric light. They were supplied with a low voltage cable (120 volts) from the so-called "Provision I" located in the basement of the Grand Hotel. The monument is part of the Gallery of Great Lodzians, which since 1999 has decorated Piotrkowska Street with outdoor bronze sculptures standing on the sidewalks and commemorating famous people associated with Lodz. Its author is Marcel Szytenchelm.
In 1872, the first electric lamp was lit on Piotrkowska Street. Private, too. The perpetrator of this event was Ludwik Meyer, a factory owner from Łódź. In the basement of his Grand Hotel at the time, he installed a generator that powered the new light source in Łódź. The street lamp, which was lit on August 2, 1887, was also an advertisement for lighting in the hotel itself.
Lodz residents had to wait two decades for the next electric lanterns. Although in 1895 the German Joint Stock Society "Siemens & Halske" announced its intention to launch a city-wide power plant, for the following years it failed to start construction. In 1906, the society gave the license to the St. Petersburg Electric Lighting Society, which laid the first cable in the city in May of the same year. Low voltage was supplied by a generator installed in the basement of the Grand Hotel. The cable reached the property at 37 Piotrkowska Street, i.e. the American Diamant Palace store. On May 7, electricity ran through it, and the first illuminated window in the city attracted a crowd of onlookers to the street, which effectively blocked the traffic there. The first city electric lamps were installed in Łódź only in 1908. It was then that the concession giving Gazownia Łódzka exclusive street lighting expired. The first four lighthouses were placed on the New Town square, and a year later, several dozen more appeared on Piotrkowska Street.
Was Łódź drowning in darkness before electric lanterns lit it? A few words about the history of the "enlightenment of Łódź". The first lighting that dispersed the darkness of Lodz streets and alleys was the so-called lantern poles, which were placed in particularly frequented places, for example in marketplaces, at bridges and city tollboats, and even where there were no illuminated buildings. They were lamp posts with candles or wicks immersed in oil burning.
An important event in the life of Łódź was the introduction of street lighting with reverberant lanterns. They replaced lantern poles. The first mentions of the need to install reverberant lanterns can be found in Lodz archives as early as 1828. However, it was not until 1835, at the request of the residents, that the city bought 11 reverberant lanterns, which were placed on Piotrkowska and its extension - Nowomiejska Street. They were five-rail lanterns, hanging on iron "posts" in the shape of an inverted and rounded V-letter. The seatposts were attached to wooden poles 4.5 meters high, painted gray. The lantern had four silver-plated brass reverbers, i.e. sheets reflecting and amplifying the lamp's light. Two bottles held oil in which cotton wicks were dipped. When lighting the lantern, the caretaker first lowered it down the rope, then opened the door with a key, adjusted the cotton wicks and lit it. The lanterns burned from dusk until 1 am, but only from mid-September to the end of April. Candles and candlesticks were still used in private apartments and municipal offices. The costs related to the maintenance of reverberant lanterns were covered from the contributions of the inhabitants of Łódź. In 1837 there were 21 lighthouses, but all of them were on Piotrkowska Street and its extension in the Old Town. This caused dissatisfaction among residents of other streets, who also paid contributions. However, it was not until 1842 that 10 street lamps were placed in the side streets. The following year, the number of reverberant lighthouses in Łódź reached 39 and this state was maintained for several years. Lanterns were placed mainly at street intersections and bridges - 15 were lit in the Old Town, 14 in Piotrkowska, and the rest on the streets parallel to Piotrkowska. The outskirts of the city were still dark. In 1859, an official engineer of the Łęczyca poviat made an on-site inspection with members of the Łódź City Council and found that the wooden poles had crumbled and that the lanterns were beginning to fall over. Hanging lanterns were impractical, as they swayed in the wind, they gave uneven, flickering light, and oil spilled over the heads of passersby. Therefore, the city authorities decided to install new reverberant lanterns, permanently mounted on iron poles painted with black paint. In 1867, 52 such lanterns were lit in Łódź.
Already in March 1864, the City Council passed a resolution to replace oil lanterns with gas lighting. A two-pipe city square at Targowa Street, located close to factories and a plot designated for the railway station, was designated for the gas plant. A competition for the installation of gas lighting in Łódź was announced in "Dziennik Warszawski". Several candidates have applied. The most favorable conditions were presented by the London company William Cartwright Holmes et Co and with this company the city authorities of Łódź signed a contract for the construction of a gas plant in 1867. The company received a license to illuminate the city for 40 years, after which the gas plant and the pipe network were to become the property of the city free of charge. The construction of the gas plant was completed in the first months of 1869. At the same time, the Łódź Gas Society was established in Hamburg, to which the London company sold its concession and a gas company in Łódź for 278,000 rubles. The Łódzkie Towarzystwo Gazowe transferred the gas plant to the Town Hall of Łódź in 1909, it was leased to the Consortium of Leaseholders and only in 1920 passed under the direct management of the city.
According to the contract, 200 street lamps were set up on the streets of Łódź. 89 of them on Piotrkowska Street, one lighthouse from the other at a distance of about 85 meters, with the exception of 17 lighthouses on the section from ul. Pusta (today's Wigury) to the bank building at the Upper Market Square (Reymonta Square), which stood 170 meters apart. There were few houses in this section of Piotrkowska Street and there was less traffic here. To the north of Nowy Rynek (Plac Wolności), 51 street lamps were placed, at Nowy Rynek - 8, at Wschodnia - 4, on Widzewska (Kilińskiego) - 6. Only two of Piotrkowska streets received gas lighting: Dzielna (today's Narutowicza) 14 and Główna - 28 lighthouses. Therefore, the streets that were densely built-up or led to more important institutions, such as the post office, theater, or railway station, were illuminated with gas. Lanterns stood on iron poles, painted brown with oil paint. Lighting was charged to homeowners. The gas lamps on Piotrkowska Street were lit for the first time on July 13, 1869 at 9.30 pm. It was a great event in the life of the main street of the city. Residents left their homes to inspect the new devices. For the first few hours, however, the light was dimmed, and it was not until around two in the morning that the lanterns were lit with a bright flame. In the summer months, gas lanterns burned shorter: in July from 9.30 pm to 0.45 am (in December from 6.00 pm to 2.00 am). Only the street lamps at the intersections of Piotrkowska and its crossroads were lit all night.
As early as the next day after the introduction of gas lighting, complaints of the inhabitants of those streets where no lanterns were placed began to complain. It was said that they had been distributed unfairly, that there were as many as 28 street lamps on Główna Street, where “only poor craftsmen” live, and on South Street and Cegielnia Street, where the owners of squares begin to build two-story brick houses, there is not a single one. In the years 1870-1871, lanterns began to be placed on Piotrkowska streets. Zawadzka (Próchnika), Cegielniana (Jaracza), Szybka (today's Traugutta) and Nawrot streets were given two lanterns each. Eight lanterns were moved from Główna Street - six were placed on Przejazd Street (Tuwima), and two on Emilia (Bishop Tymienieckiego). Andrzeja Street, short and built-up with small, wooden houses, received only one lantern. South Street (today Revolution 1905 Street) did not have gas lighting at the beginning of the nineties. The number of gas lanterns increased almost every year and in 1886 there were 467 of them. It was then that the lighthouses on Piotrkowska, Nowomiejska and Dzielna streets were found to be too far apart and do not provide adequate lighting for the streets with the highest traffic intensity. Therefore, it was decided to put an additional 35 lighthouses on Piotrkowska Street. Moreover, many streets that were already inhabited had no lighting at all, even on some streets of Piotrkowska (part of Cegielniana, Andrzej, Rozwadowska, Anna, Karol, Radwańska). In 1891, there were 643 gas street lamps and 10 three-lantern candelabra (in the squares and in front of churches of three Christian denominations) in Łódź.
In the 1980s, the larger Łódź manufacturers began to introduce gas lighting in their enterprises. Scheibler already had its own gas plant to illuminate the factory in Księży Młyn. Other factories used city gas. Although the Łódź Gas Society had the exclusive right to lay gas pipes in Łódź, some manufacturers did not take it into account. In 1886, Poznański illegally installed a gas pipe on Ogrodowa Street, and Aleksander Skrudziński installed internal gas pipes in his factory at 21 Piotrkowska St., and for this reason he sued the Łódź Gas Society. The manufacturer, Ludwik Meyer, lit his luxurious villa with gas in the Meyer's passage at the corner of Mikołajewska Street (former Dzika Street, today Sienkiewicza Street). In the 1870s, in the 1870s, candles were used in hotels, as evidenced by the bills of the Polski Hotel at 3 Piotrkowska Street. Similarly, the hotel and theater "Victoria" (Piotrkowska 67), where there were gas lamps and lanterns with candles. Police regulations required theater directors to handle candles with care during performances.
At the end of the 19th century, Łódź, with a population of 300,000, did not yet have a power plant. Only some of the larger industrial plants had their own electricity generation equipment since the mid-1980s. They were of low power and were used to illuminate factories and factory palaces. In 1886, progress in this area was noted with satisfaction: “Electric lighting is gaining more and more use in the more significant factories of our city. Recently, we mentioned electrical devices in scheibler's workshops, made by Mr. Lenczewski from Warsaw. We are now finding out that electric lighting has been introduced in the plants of the Schwartz, Birnbaum and Löw companies (later S. Barciński's plants) and in the dye-works and apertures of Mr. Juliusz Heinzl ”. Electric street lighting, as already mentioned, was initiated in the Meyer Passage. Its owner, having built a few luxury houses to accommodate the provincial authorities (which eventually did not move from Piotrków to Łódź), installed electric lighting in them. In 1887, in Pasaż Meyer 3 there was a "dynamo-electric machine with a gas engine", located in the basement.
There were also water pipes and light gas lines in Meyer's houses. Gas lanterns in the streets were no longer enough. Dziennik Łódzki wrote: The lighting of our streets leaves a lot to be desired; between the two street lamps, also in the middle of the street, it is completely dark […]. One day in the evening [...] on the corner of Piotrkowska and Dzielna Streets, on the way to the German theater, one of the residents was forced to shine a match to see where the bridge and the ditch are ”. The municipality of Lodz has finally announced a tender for electric city lighting. In 1895, the German company "Siemens i Halske" (a joint stock company from Berlin) submitted an appropriate offer for the construction and operation of a power plant and in 1900 obtained a concession, but did not finance it. In 1906, the license was acquired by the St. Petersburg "Electric Lighting Society 1886" and commissioned a temporary power plant with a capacity of 60 kW, located in the "Grand Hotel" building at Piotrkowska Street.
At the same time, the construction of the actual power plant at Targowa Street began. In May 1906, a section of the cable was laid and connected to the electricity network from the "Prowizorium" located at 3 Krotka Street to the newly opened shop "American Diamant Palace" at Piotrkowska 37. Then the cable was laid along Piotrkowska Street - from the cathedral to the Old Market Square - from branches on some streets. In September 1907, the power plant at Targowa Street started supplying energy. At that time, it had 330 recipients. As the power increased, more consumers were connected, the number of which reached 7,642 in 1914. About 90% of the energy generated by the Łódź power plant was used to drive motors, and the rest for lighting. The first four electric lanterns appeared in 1908 in the New Market Square. Then part of Piotrkowska Street - from Nowy Rynek to Główna Street - and Dzielna Street were illuminated. In 1909, there were 86 electric lanterns in Łódź, and in 1914 - 163. The section of Piotrkowska Street from Główna Street to Reymonta Square received electric lighting only in 1927.
At that time, most streets in Lodz still had gas lighting. In 1892, 29 gas lamps arrived at Piotrkowska Street, and 198 here in 1904, and 1907 in the whole of Łódź. They were single and double-flame lamps (only two-flame at Piotrkowska Street). Expenses for the gas plant and streetlight maintenance were the responsibility of the residents of the illuminated streets, but in 1897, when an estimated property tax was established in Łódź, these expenses were charged to the City Council. Even at the beginning of the 20th century, many built-up streets did not have any lighting, and some were lit very poorly. This was also the case on Piotrkowska streets, especially at their ends. In the years 1904-1905, the Gas Society placed lanterns on the corners of the following streets: Zawadzka (Próchnika), Południe (Revolution 1905), Cegielniana (Jaracza), Short (Traugutta) and Benedykta (6 Sierpnia Street). In 1909, 2,313 gas lanterns were lit in Łódź. In June of that year, the gasworks were transferred from the German society to the City of Łódź, which, on the basis of a notional agreement, leased them to the citizens of the city on an anonymous lease. Gas and electric lighting generally did not reach private apartments (except for palaces and luxurious tenement houses). Candles and kerosene lamps were still used there. It was similar in many offices. Even at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the police detention facility in Łódź was lit with kerosene and candles. It was not until 1903 that gas lighting was installed in the Manufacture and Industry School. In the "Hotel Polski" at 3 Piotrkowska St. in 1907, guests used candles in their rooms - 10 kopecks each. In view of the high price of candles, kerosene spread.
As electricity became more common, gas lighting gave way to Piotrkowska. In 1912, gas lamps stood only in the section from Główna to the Upper Market Square. Cegielniana and Dzielna streets already had electric lighting, but the remaining streets of Piotrkowska were still gas-powered. On the building of the Town Hall, the illuminating gas initials of the tsar's names were replaced with electric ones only a few months before the outbreak of the First World War.
The front tenement house is an impressive six-storey building with two small outbuildings. Thanks to the involvement of municipal funds, for a year now, the façade on the side of Piotrkowska Street can enjoy a new look for passersby. When looking at the effects of the conservators' work, it is worth paying attention to the impressive bay window connecting the three floors, which was supported over the ground floor with volute supports, ended with a balcony at the top. The top storey is topped with a slender dome with an original shape, covered with a cupola. The lintels of the facade are decorated with Art Nouveau ornaments (leaves, ribbons, lion heads and female masks). The decoration of the main gate, the stair railing, and the stucco work in the rooms and staircases have been preserved. From the inside, the property is additionally built-up with two larger outbuildings from the west (four and five-storey ones), placed at an angle to the front building, and one transverse (five-storey), closing the courtyard on the west side.
Łódź - like most large Polish cities - has problems with the increasingly congested center. At rush hour, driving a car through downtown is a frustrating experience that tests the endurance of even the most patient driver. The example of large European agglomerations such as London or Berlin shows that the solution is fast urban rail transport.
The proximity of the Centrum stop on the route of the cross-city tunnel is a great advantage of the investment at Piotrkowska 37. Future residents will be able to quickly and conveniently move from the very center of the city to other parts of it. According to the announcements of the Łódź authorities, the stop will be located on Zielona Street, and therefore only a few minutes' walk from Dawid Szmulewicz's tenement house. Shuttle trains W1 and W2 are to run frequently, even every 8 minutes. The first trains will go through the tunnel in 2022.