Gdynia (Gdingen (until 1939), Gotenhafen (1939-1945); ) is a city in the Pomeranian Voivodeship of Poland and an important seaport at Gdańsk Bay on the south coast of the Baltic Sea.
Located in Kashubia in Eastern Pomerania, Gdynia is part of a conurbation with the spa town of Sopot, the city of Gdańsk and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the Tricity (Trójmiasto), with a population of over a million people.
The first known mention of the name "Gdynia" was of a Pomeranian
) fishing village, in 1253. Oxhöft, now known as Oksywie
, a part of Gdynia, was mentioned even earlier, in 1209. It was there that the first church on the this part of the Baltic Sea coast was built. In 1380 the owner of the village which became Gdynia, Peter from Rusocin, gave the village to the Cisterian Order, so in the years 1382–1772 Gdynia belonged to the Cistercian
abbey in Oliva, now Oliwa
. In 1789 there were only 21 houses in the village.
The area of the later city of Gdynia shared its history with Pomerelia (Eastern Pomerania); in prehistoric times it was the center of Oksywie culture; it was later populated by Goths and eventually Slavs with some Baltic Prussian influences. As a part of Pomerania, it was a province of Poland from circa 990–1308. In 1309-1310 it was conquered by the Teutonic Order (1309–1454/66), but afterwards became part of Royal Prussia within the Kingdom of Poland (1466–1772). In the First Partition of Poland in 1772 it was annexed into the Kingdom of Prussia (1772–1870), and as part of Prussia became part of the German Empire (1870–1920).
In 1870, the village of Gdingen had some 1,200 inhabitants, and it was not a poor fishing village as it is sometimes described. It was a popular tourist spot with several guest houses, restaurants, cafes, several brick houses and a small harbour with a pier for small trading ships. The first Kashubian mayor of Gdingen was Jan Radtke. After the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, Gdingen or Gdynia - as it was now called - along with other parts of former West Prussia, became a part of the new Republic of Poland; simultaneously, the city of Danzig and surrounding area was declared a free city and put under the League of Nations, though Poland was given economic liberties and requisitioned for matters of foreign representation.
Construction of the seaport
The decision to build a major seaport at the Gdynia village was made by the Polish government in the winter of 1920, in the midst of the Polish-Soviet War (1919–1920). The authorities and seaport workers of the Free City of Danzig felt Poland's economic rights in the city were being misappropriated to help fight the war. Despite these demands, the workers went on strike, and Poland realized the need for a port city it was in complete control of, economically and politically.
Construction of Gdynia seaport was started in 1921, but because of financial difficulties was conducted slowly and with interruptions. It was accelerated after the Sejm (Polish parliament) passed the Gdynia Seaport Construction Act on 23 September 1922. By 1923 a 550-metre pier, 175 metres of a wooden tide breaker, and a small harbour had been constructed. Ceremonial inauguration of Gdynia as a temporary military port and fishers' shelter took place on 23 April 1923, and the first major seagoing ship arrived on 13 August 1923.
To speed up the construction works, the Polish government in November 1924 signed a contract with the French-Polish Consortium for Gdynia Seaport Construction, which by the end of 1925 had built a small seven-metre-deep harbour, the south pier, part of the north pier, a railway, and had also ordered the trans-shipment equipment. The works were going more slowly than expected, however. They accelerated only after May 1926, because of an increase in Polish exports by sea, economic prosperity, the outbreak of the German–Polish trade war which reverted most Polish international trade to sea routes, and also thanks to the personal engagement of Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski, Polish Minister of Industry and Trade, also responsible for construction of Centralny Okręg Przemysłowy. Till the end of 1930 docks, piers, breakwaters and many auxiliary and industrial installations were constructed (such as depots, trans-shipment equipment, and a rice processing factory) or started (such as a large clod room).
Trans-shipments rose from 10,000 tons (1924) to 2,923,000 tons (1929). At this time Gdynia was the only transit and special seaport designed for coal exports. In the years 1931–1939 the Gdynia harbour was further extended to become a universal seaport. In 1938 Gdynia was the largest and most modern seaport on the Baltic Sea, as well as the tenth biggest in Europe. The trans-shipments rose to 8.7 million tons, which was 46% of Polish foreign trade. In 1938 the Gdynia shipyard started to build its first full-sea ship, the Olza.
Construction of the city
The city was constructed later than the seaport. In 1925 a special committee was inaugurated to build the city; city expansion plans were designed and city rights
were granted in 1926, and tax privileges were granted for investors in 1927. The city started to grow significantly after 1928 and the population grew rapidly to over 120,000 in 1939.
In 1930 the Baltic Institute in Toruń, an institution designed to research Polish heritage in Pomerania, opened its branch in Gdynia.
Gdynia during World War II (1939–1945)
The city and seaport were occupied in September of 1939
by German troops and renamed to Gotenhafen
after the Goths
, an ancient Germanic tribe. Some 50,000 Polish citizens, settled by the Polish government at the area after the decission to enlarge the harbour was made, were repatriated to the General Gouvernment
. The harbour was turned into a German naval base. The shipyard
was extended in 1940 and turned into a branch of a Kiel
shipyard (Deutsche Werke Kiel A.G.
). Gdynia became a primary German naval base, and being relatively distant from current war theater
homed most of German large ships - battleships
and heavy cruisers
. Both seaport and the shipyard witnessed several air raids by the Allies from 1943 onwards, but suffered little damage. The seaport area was largely destroyed by withdrawing German troops in 1945 (90% of the buildings and equipment were destroyed) and the harbour entrance was blocked by the German battlecruiser Gneisenau
that had been brought to Gdynia for major repairs and refit.
The city was also the location for the Nazi concentration camp Gotenhafen, a subcamp of the Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig.
The harbour of Gotenhafen was also used in winter 1944-45 to evacuate German troops and refugees trapped by the Red Army. Some of the ships were hit by torpedoes from Soviet submarines in the Baltic Sea on the route West. For example, the ship Wilhelm Gustloff sank taking about 9,400 people with her — the worst loss of life in a single sinking in maritime history.
Gdynia after World War II
On March 28
, Gdynia was captured by the Soviets and assigned to Polish Gdańsk Voivodeship
In the Polish 1970 protests, worker demonstrations took place at Gdynia Shipyard. Workers were fired upon by the police. The fallen became symbolized by a fictitious worker Janek Wiśniewski, commemorated in a song by Mieczysław Cholewa, Pieśń o Janku z Gdyni.
One of Gdynia's important streets is named after Janek Wiśniewski. The same person was portrayed by Andrzej Wajda in his movie Man of Iron as Mateusz Birkut. Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the archenemy of the character James Bond known for his white persian cat, comes from Gdynia.
On December 4th, 1999, a storm destroyed a huge crane in a shipyard, which was able to lift 900 tons
Notable companies that have their headquarters in Gdynia:
- Cargo statistics:
- 1924: 10,000 tons
- 1929: 2,923,000 tons
- 1938: 8,700,000 tons
- 2002: 9,365,200 tons
- 2003: 9,748,000 tons
- 2004: 10,744,000 tons
- 2005: 12,230,000 tons
- 2006: 14,199,000 tons
- 2007: 17,025,000 tons
- See also: Ports of the Baltic Sea
There are currently 8 universities and institutions of higher education based in Gdynia. Many students from Gdynia attend also universities located in the Tricity.
- Privately owned:
- See also: Education in Gdynia
- Antoni Abraham (1869-1923) Kashubian representative to the Versailles Treaty, political activist and proponent of Polish Kashubia
- Józef Michał Hubert Unrug (1884–1973) German-born Polish vice admiral who helped create the Polish navy
- Marian Mokwa (1889-1987) maritime painter, traveller, social activist
- Franciszek Stefan Sokół (1890-1956) author, Commissioner of the government of Gdynia and the city's chief promoter and defender
- Antoni Suchanek (1901-1982) maritime painter
- Karol Olgierd Borchardt (1905-1986) maritime author and educator
- Kazimierz Ostrowski (1917-1999) painter
- Irena Loroch (b. 1931) sculptress
- Zbigniew Szczepanek (b. 1933) author of textbooks, considered one of the best watercolor artists in Europe
- Jacek Fedorowicz (b. 1937) satirist and actor
- Gunnar Heinsohn (b. 1943) German sociologist
- Jörg Berger (b. 1944) German football trainer
- Franciszka Cegielska (1946-2000) politician and Solidarity movement activist
- Mirosław Tomaszewski (b. 1955) writer, playwright, and inventor
- Ryszard Krauze (b. 1956) computer science entrepreneur
- Marcin Mięciel (b. 1975) footballer
- Alexandra Nice (b. 1976) actrice
- Adam Michał Darski, Nergal (b. 1977) composer, vocalist, and guitarist for blackened death metal band Behemoth
- Michael Klim (b. 1977) Polish-born Australian swimmer, Olympic medalist, World Champion
- Magdalena Brzeska (b. 1978) gymnast
- Małgorzata Warda (b. 1978) writer, painter, and sculptress
- Stefan Liv (b. 1980) Polish-born Swedish ice hockey player
There are many popular professional sports teams in Gdynia and Tricity area. Amateur sports are played by thousands of Gdynia’s citizens, as well as in schools and universities.
Sports in Gdynia
Members of Parliament (Sejm
) elected from Gdynia/Słupsk constituency
- Marek Biernacki, PO
- Jolanta Szczypińska, PiS
- Jarosław Sellin, PiS
- Robert Strąk, LPR
- Joanna Senyszyn, SLD-UP
- Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka, SLD-UP
- Kazimierz Plocke, PO
- Tadeusz Aziewicz, PO
- Jerzy Budnik, PO
- Zbigniew Kozak, PiS
- Kazimierz Kleina, PO
- Ryszard Kaczyński, PiS
- Stanisław Lamczyk, PO
- Lech Woszczerowicz, Samoobrona
Members of Senat elected from Gdynia/Słupsk constituency
Sights and tourist attractions
Gdynia is a relatively modern city and there are not many historical buildings. The oldest building in Gdynia is 13th century St. Michael the Archangel's Church in Oksywie. There is also a 17th century neo-Gothic manor house located on Folwarczna Street in Orłowo.
However, what attracts most tourists in Gdynia deals with its recent past. In the harbour there are two anchored museum ships, the ORP Blyskawica destroyer and the Dar Pomorza Tall Ship frigate. Gdynia is famous for its numerous examples of early 20th century architecture, especially monumentalism and early functionalism. Recently reconstructed Świętojańska street and Kościuszko square are also worth a mention.
The surrounding hills and the coastline attract many nature lovers. Leisure pier and a cliff-like coastline in Kępa Redłowska as well as the surrounding Reservation Park are also popular locations. A 1.5 kilometre long promenade leads from the marina in the city centre to the beach in Redłowo. Most of Gdynia can be seen from Kamienna Góra (54 metres asl) or a newly built observation point near Chwaszczyno.
You can also take a hydrofoil or ship trip to Gdańsk Westerplatte, Hel or just see the port.
There are also two remarkable observation towers, one at Góra Donas, the other at Kolibki.
Gdynia is also the host of the Heineken Open'er Festival, one of the biggest contemporary music festivals in Poland. The festival welcomes many foreign hip-hop, rock and electronic music artists every year. The second most important summer event in Gdynia is Viva Beach Party, which is a large two-day techno party made on Gdynia's Public Beach. Usually organized in August.
Modern division into neighbourhoods
- Babie Doły
- Chwarzno Wiczlino
- Działki Leśne
- Kamienna Góra
- Mały Kack
- Pustki Cisowskie-Demptowo
- Wielki Kack
- Witomino Leśniczówka
- Witomino Radiostacja
- Wzgórze Św. Maksymiliana
Population and area
|| Area |
|| 6 km² |
|| 66 km² |
|| 66 km² |
|| 73 km² |
|| 75 km²|
|| 134 km²|
|| 134 km² |
|| 136 km² |
|| 136 km² |
|| 136 km² |
|| 135.49 km² (after GUS - Central Statistical Office in Warsaw) |
|| 136 km² |
Monopoly Worldwide Edition
- In 2008, Gdynia made it onto the Monopoly Worldwide Edition board after being voted by fans. Gdynia occupies the space traditionally held by Mediteranian Avenue, making it the lowest voted city to make it onto the Monopoly Here and Now board.
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- (ed.). S. Gierszewski, Gdynia, Gdańsk 1968
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