7 More of the Most Polish Cities Outside of Poland
#lifestyle & opinion
The Polish diaspora numbers about 20 million and often forms large and influential communities within cities outside of Poland. The first edition of this article listed well-known Polish hotspots like Chicago and London, but in this follow-up we take a look at some smaller cities that are no less Polish at heart.
This city in the state of New York is sometimes called the Dyngus Capital of the World. Dyngus is short for Śmigus-dyngus, the traditional Polish custom of throwing water at passers-by on Easter Monday. In Buffalo there’s a whole festival devoted to this joyful tradition. It includes a parade, traditional costumes and… water pistols. Buffalo’s ties to Poland date back to its very beginnings since the first survey of its streets was made by a Pole named Jan Stadnicki. Today almost 150,000 people in the Buffalo area declare Polish as their primary ancestry.
Since the 1900s people of Polish origin have been among the most numerous ethnic groups in the city. Polish influences in Milwaukee can be seen in the architecture of the city’s South Side area. In the late 19th century, many Poles purchased small plots of land there and build simple cottages. As their economic situation improved, they started adding brick foundations. Such houses are often called Polish flats by people living in the Milwaukee area. About 115,000 Milwaukeeans have roots in Poland.
There was a time when the Italian and Afro-American workers of Detroit’s car factories learned Polish to communicate with their colleagues – that’s how strong the Polish presence once was in the city’s industry. In the 1940s, a US government study found that Poles were the biggest cultural minority in Detroit. Today Motor City is far less Polish as most of the 350,000 Polish-Americans living in the Detroit area reside outside of the city itself. Nevertheless, you can still find Polish churches and restaurants in Detroit.
With over 45,000 people with Polish roots, Melbourne is the most Polish city in the Land Down Under. There were two significant waves of Polish immigration. The first occurred after World War II, and the second took place in the 1980s as a consequence of the political and economic troubles experienced by the communist regime. Now Polishness can be encountered in a number of Melbourne landmarks, like at Borsch, Vodka and Tears, a café serving Polish soups and vodka, or at Polish Rye Crust Bakery, which sells traditional Polish bread.
This city in Connecticut is Polish enough to have earned the nickname ‘New Britski’. One in five out of the 70,000 residents is of Polish origin. Poles started coming here in large numbers in the late 19th century, which led to the formation of a Polish neighbourhood along Broad Street. Unlike many other expatriate enclaves in the US this area hasn’t lost any of its character over time. Nowadays you can still easily order lunch or book a plane ticket in Polish on Broad Street.
Fans of The Wire, the award-winning TV series about Baltimore, will remember that some of the key characters were Polish-Americans dock labourers. This is no coincidence ‒ the job used to be common among the city’s Polish community, which was and still is established around the Fells Point neighbourhood. Nowadays, there are only 18,000 people with Polish roots in the city, but you can still see Polish stores and signs around the city.
Before World War II, Lviv was part of the Second Polish Republic, and one of the country’s most vibrant cities at that. Science and culture flourished; the city was home to the phenomenal Lviv School of Mathematics, which immensely contributed to global scientific development, and to the artistic collective Artes, which created pioneering naïve art paintings. Today the city is situated in Western Ukraine, but its Polish heritage is alive and well, and over 10,000 Poles live there.
lifestyle & opinion
Author: Marek Kępa, May 2016
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