M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentKaplan Ruth
SubjectManufacturing a Sense of Belonging Urban Space of Jewish
Textile Workers in an East European Industrial
Town 19th Century Lodz, Poland as a Case
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor PROFESSOR EMERITUS Rachel Kallus
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


This study is focused on the Jewish district of the city of Lodz, which functioned as ghetto during the first half of the 19th century, with the wealthy industrial town in the background. It examines Lodz's Jewish district's spatial development and the everyday life of its Jewish inhabitants. As an urban-historical research it seeks to answer two broad questions: How can one learn about a place that no longer exists? And, can we trace communities that have disappeared by exploring the morphological structure of a place?

Lodz’s development as a19th century East European industrial town has been widely researched, especially in the fields of urban studies and urban morphology. But, despite the city’s rich Jewish past, the urban morphology of the Jewish district in Lodz, although demolished during WWII and later, in the Communist era, has acquired less attention.

This research examines the urban morphology of the Jewish district in Lodz to add information of its past Jewish inhabitants. Its methodology is grounded in urban morphology’s claims of the urban form ability to express the history of communities that once resided in the place. The Jewish district’s spatial development is correlated with the everyday life of its inhabitants and their use of urban space. Analysis of the district's formal and typological development is aided by additional information extracted from literature, prose and archival material such as photos, documents, private diaries and periodical newspapers. These answer further questions: Was the development of the Jewish district related to its residents’ identity? And, did the Jewish district exhibit a “Jewish character”?

The findings of the study do not indicate a formal Jewish identity of the Jewish district in Lodz. They suggest that the district's morphological difference derives from its location in the mediaeval village of Lodz against the new town, established in early 19th century, and well planned by the authorities. Religious edifices, which can serve as prominent elements in city plans and imply the predominance of a local religious community, are barely to be found in the district. Nevertheless, the district was defined as Jewish by municipal authorities. Archival material related to the Jewish community in Lodz exhibits 'Jewish use' of private and public spaces in the district, and later, as indicated in spatial evidences, in a wider area occupied by Jews, with the Jewish district as its core.

The research shows that a spatial examination alone cannot indicate the character of the Jewish district in Lodz. Morphological examination, as well as an understanding of the history of Lodz as an industrial town, historical factors that led to the establishment of the Jewish district and the arrival of Jewish immigrants, attitude of Jewish inhabitants to urban space and to their temporary homeland - Poland, and attitude of non-Jewish city residents and city authorities to Jewish inhabitants, provide an ambivalent answer to research questions; the built form alone is not enough to analyze a place that does not exist and to trace communities that have disappeared.