by Jochen on
The history of Gdansk ranges back millennia, through which is has been conquered many times, belonging to many nations. The city joined the Hanseatic League in 1316, making it one of the most wealthy European cities by the 16th century. Trade and shipping was always a the core of the city's character. The city was, amongst others, Prussian and German and has been Polish since the end of the Second World War. This is one of the reasons this site exists, mapping today's Polish names to the old German names. For me, with a rich family history in Gdnask, this has been instrumental in looking up where my ancestors lived and to find today's locations, buildings, streets. Gdansk was almost completely destroyed by allied forces in 1945, and some of the old streets were redefined as part of the rebuilding efforts.
Street names have changed throughout the centuries, and their names reflect a rich history, named after professions, people, or their previous uses (such as, for example, Brabank).
The metro area consists of many towns that you will encounter on these pages. Let's start by digging into the old part of town, the towntown area.
A number of rivers run through the downtown - the Motława, called Mottlau in German. The river forks and runs around and island, the Wyspa Spichrzów (Speicherinsel). This island, still today, contains the old buildings merchants used to store their goods (Speicherinsel, translates to literally warehouse island), just like you'd find in some of the other Hanseatic League cities like Hamburg.
West of the Wyspa Spichrzów is the Main City, called Rechtstadt (now: Główne Miasto). This part contains some of the historic city buildings, including the large St. Mary's church, the Langer Markt with the city hall and Artus Court (Artushof in German, Dwór Artusa in Polish).
Personal anecdote: Many of my ancestors were merchants and members of the Danziger Börse (Gdansk Mercantile Exchange). The picture below shows the members of the mercantile exchange at the Artushof in the 1840s, with my 4th great-grandfather, Otto Wilhelm Rosenmeyer, being on the top right.
North of the Rechtstadt is the Altstadt ("Old Town," Stare Miasto today). While historically slightly less significant. The Altstadt was for centuries inhabited by craftspeople and merchants, reflected by many of the street names such as Böttchergasse, Töpfergasse, Tischlergasse, Pfeffergasse.
East of the Wyspa Spichrzów is the old Niederstadt ("lower city")
South of the Rechtstadt is the Vorstadt (literally "Forecity"), containing the Trinitatis Church (Trinitatiskirche) and, for example, Vorstädtischer Graben.
History of Gdansk (Wikipedia)
Metro Area and Suburbs
Over the course of the centuries, maybe smaller towns and suburbs were absorbed into today's Gdansk. The following outlines a short overview, and the Wikipedia entry on Gdansk can provide more detail.
Worthy of mentioning, whether through personal relevance or historical significance are
Wrzeszcz (German: Danzig-Langfuhr), North-East of the city and birth place of Günter Grass
Sopot (German: Zoppot), a beach town on the Baltic and known for, amongst other things, it's casino.
Today's Polish Name
Pelonken (Hof VII)
Stadtmitte (mit Altstadt, Rechtstadt, Neugarten, Hagelsberg, Bischofsberg, Vorstadt, Speicherinsel, Bleihof, Langgarten, Niederstadt, Strohdeich)
A more detailed view can also be found on Wikipedia.