Teacher | Student
Originally produced in:
Also available in: en

1. Extract from the memoirs of Ignacy Baliński titled Wspomnienia o Warszawie, published in Warsaw in 1987

Shopping and walking took place on most main streets, which were then Krakowskie Przedmieście and Nowy Świat, Marszałkowska from Jerozolimskie Avenue to Saski Garden, Wierzbowa and Czysta (Ossolińskich), Senatorska, crossed by the Theatre Square and to a lesser extent Miodowa and Bielańska. Commercial traffic, wholesale, especially concentrated in the vicinity of Nalewki Street, and secondary and tertiary in the vicinity of Żelazna Brama Street and Kercelego Square (...). The walking audience usually walked on the right side of Krakowskie Przedmieście Street and Nowy Świat from the Castle, but when entering Ujaz-dowskie Avenue near my old junior high school number four they moved to the left, leaving the right side. This happened always with firmness and precision of the Gulf Stream. Signs for shops had to be either in Russian or in two languages, Russian and Polish, or, finally, in one of the foreign ones - mostly French - in quotation marks. In general, any poster or placard outside the house - even such as "doctor", in Russian, "wracz" could not do without the Rus-sian text, with the exception of the hourglass, as a notice of someone's death and burial was called, placed at the entrances of churches. In Vilnius and outside the Kingdom, in the former territories of the Republic and in the Suwalki region, the Polish language in all notices, even next to the text in Russian, was banned. (...) In general shop-windows were not large, only in new stores bigger ones appeared. Displays were more informative than alluring and tempting. My good friend Stefan Zyndram Kościałkowski, who moved to Warsaw from Zmudz and in the years 1888 - 1892 “played” at the maintenance of the tobacco warehouse in Ujazdowskie Avenue, almost opposite Krucza Street, boasted that he brought from Vienna a huge black man, holding a tray of cigars, because this figure gathered many onlookers around the shop and served as an ad. In the windows of first-class ladies’ hairdressing salons more and more wax heads appeared with variously arranged hairstyles, but any retailer of stockings not even dreamed of a model of a calf exposed in flesh-colored stockings, often extending beyond the knee; I doubt, moreover, whether the police would allow it.

Source: I. Baliński, Wspomnienia o Warszawie, Warszawa 1987, s. 156 – 158; quoted by: G. Cho-micki, L. Śliwa, Wiek XIX. Teksty źródłowe. Tematy lekcji i zagadnienia do historii w szkole średniej, Kraków 2001, s. 331 – 333.


Ignacy Baliński (1862 – 1951) Polish writer, journalist and social activist, a lawyer by educa-tion. Before World War I he worked in the Prosecutor's Office of the Kingdom of Poland in Warsaw. At the same time he wrote articles for magazines and newspapers in Warsaw. In 1918 he became a Supreme Court judge and president of the Warsaw City Council, and per-formed this function until 1927. From 1922 to 1927 he was a senator from the National De-mocracy. Since 1939, he lived in the UK.


  1. Where didthe wealthy citizens do their shopping and where did the wholesale take place?
  2. How did the political situation of Poland after the Third Partition affected everyday li-ves of the population in Warsaw?
  3. What were the shops in Warsaw like in the second half of the nineteenth century?
  4. How did thesellers encourage customers to purchase goods offered by them?

Display teacher's view to find the answers.

Description and Analysis

  1. Wealthy citizens did their shopping in stores located in the streets: Krakowskie Przedmieście, Nowy Świat, Marszałkowska from Jerozolimskie Avenue to Saski Garden, Wierzbowa and Czysta (Ossolińskich), Senatorska, Miodowa and Bielańska. Wholesale trade concentrated in the vicinity of Nalewki Street.
  2. According to the treaty concluded by the partitioning powers (Russia, Austria and Prussia) during the congress in Vienna in May 1815, the lands of the former Duchy of Warsaw (with the exception of the departments of Poznan and Bydgoszcz) were attached to the Russian Empire. In December 1815, the Constitution of the Polish Kingdom signed by Alexander I (as a Polish king) was announced , which guaranteed the status of a separate state, its territory, the Polish central and local government, national parliament and the army, its own budget and monetary system, a separate educational system. The repression suffered by the Poles after the November Uprising and January Uprising, aimed at eradi-cation of autonomy and assimilation of the Polish Kingdom to other provinces of the Rus-sian Empire. After the fall of the January Uprising Russian authorities also acceded to the intensive Russification of Polish society. It was a process in which the Russian state ai-med at denationalization of Poles by the gradual imposition of language, culture, art, reli-gion and customs of the Russians. In 1867the rest of the autonomy of the Polish Kingdom, known as Przywiślański Country, was abolished. In the years 1869-1885, the total displa-cement of the Polish language of the school system followed, completed in 1885 by brin-ging it to the role of additional and optional language . The Polish language has been dis-placed even from shop signs - Ignacy Balinski wrote about it in his memoires.
  3. Shop-windows in Warsaw in the second half of the nineteenth century were not very lar-ge, only in the newly established stores they were higher. The shop displays were created to inform customers about the range of products of the store.
  4. Sellers encouraged to purchase goods offered by them with the use of advertising. For example, a black man encouraged customers to buy tobacco in one of Warsaw's shops, and at the hairdressing salon exhibitions there were wax heads with wigs with variously arranged hairstyles.

Geographical/Historical Context

The economic development of the Polish lands that began in the mid-nineteenth century rea-ched its apogee in the second half of the nineteenth century. It has led to social change, parti-cularly migration of population from rural to urban areas, which was a necessary condition for industrialization. Among the causes of migration to urban areas, agrarian reforms and the affranchisement act, which increased the number of landless, should be mentioned.The co-llapse of the November Uprising and the liquidation of the regular army meant that demobili-zed soldiers remained in the cities of the Kingdom of Poland. Then most of these people created the group of hired industrial workers employed by manufacturers (textile industry) or in factories (mining and metallurgy), which created favorable conditions for the industrializa-tion process of the Polish lands. Owners of factories, plants, rich merchants (bourgeoisie) in the Kingdom of Poland, Greater Poland, Upper Silesia, descended mainly from non-Polish background, and the workers were mostly Poles. Economic development also influenced the landowners that experienced the impoverishment and indebtedness due to the involvement of the Duchy of Warsaw in the Napoleonic Wars, leading often to property sale and moving to the city. They took up professions writers, teachers, officials, journalists, editors, doctors, lawyers and became the nucleus of a new social group - the intelligentsia. Social transforma-tion (migrations to the cities, the emergence of new social groups) and the process of indus-trialization gradually influenced the development of Polish towns, where there was a concen-tration of industry and factory. Population grew in these cities. In the Kingdom of Poland Warsaw developed intensively with the population of about 80 thousand in 1815, in 1830 already 175 thousand and in 1890 - 456 thousand. In the capital of the Kingdom of Poland new representational buildings appeared (Belveder), new streets and squares, which were illuminated. Other cities of the Kingdom of Poland developed, mainly related to the textile industry: Łódź (in 1900 already 315 thousand people), Pabianice, Konstantynów, Alexandrów, Zgierz. Urbanization was a reflection of the process of industrialization. Cities developed and modernized its infrastructure in every field.