• A lucky chance makes history

    Katowice is perceived as an industrial city whose development cycle is determined by the boom and decline of heavy industry. The local steelworks and mines indeed generated wealth and attracted thousands of people to Katowice for long decades. However, a direct factor leading to the founding of the city was the rail, which came here by chance in the mid C19th, when Franz Winckler, owner of the village in the east of Prussia, convinced investors that the new line to connect Wrocław to the Russian border should run through his land. Many of the later unexpected turns in the history of Katowice were also a product of top-down policy decisions, rather than of any logical industrial development process. The shaky lot of the city is well demonstrated by the fact that its name changed five times in just a few decades.
  • Development enhances dispersion

    Contemporary Katowice is an "agglomeration" of towns, settlements and villages which, as a result of the political decisions of the last hundred years, have fallen within one administrative area. Each of these areas had a different origin, impacting on its urban patterns. For a long time, these patterns were determined by agricultural activity and the distribution of farmland. Later, the decisive factor was the location and availability of mineral reserves as well as the process relationships and transport links within the local large-scale industrial conglomerates. An important factor for the city centre was the proximity to the railway station, which is why tenement houses and villas were tightly packed into clusters separated only by the streets. Although the buildings have survived, we are unable to see the logic of their origins or development.
  • Contrast provokes stereotype

    Half of Katowice’s surface area is covered by green vegetation such as woods, parks, lawns, river valleys and former industrial wasteland undergoing rehabilitation. Not all residents, however, enjoy unrestricted pedestrian access to these areas due to their specific location, resulting from the history of local spatial development. The largest green complexes found themselves within Katowice’s city limits due to the incorporation of subsequent districts and rehabilitation of degraded land. The city centre, on the other hand, was provided with small lawns and green squares to complement the dense building systems. This situation affects the perception of contemporary Katowice city, so statistical and urban studies remain the only method to address the stereotypes of the "Black Silesia" and the "City of Gardens".
  • Optimism surpasses uncertainty

    Periods of Katowice’s rapid growth have been inspired by enthusiastic visions or business interests of the city rulers. After the initial tenure of wealthy industrial magnates, came the authorities of interwar Poland with an ambition to build an avant-garde city. These, in turn, were followed by the representatives of the communist state of the 60s and 70s, who went on to create a new metropolis with even greater impetus. Dubbed the American City, it was not only a promised land giving people work, but was also made to undergo the most complex of transformations at breakneck speed and with no regard for own heritage. Katowice’s landscape and identity were largely shaped by mining and metallurgy. Currently, the city is looking for alternative ways of grow and find a new "Katowice dream" for the future.