chapter  17
26 Pages

Warsaw

The radical change which Eastern Europe is now experiencing (1993) impacts visibly upon the major cities with each city struggling to reposition itself in its own context, and in the context of others. Arguably in this respect Warsaw presents a distinctly different case in comparison to other first-ranking East European cities. While the Warsaw of 1939 is remembered fondly, and perhaps with exaggeration, by old Polish expatriates in the West as ‘the Paris of the East’, after 1945 the image in the West is of the city wantonly destroyed and then rebuilt. Unlike, say, Prague or Budapest, where preservation from wartime destruction means that the historical base constrains the possibilities for change, the largely post-war inheritance of Warsaw is pregnant with such possibilities. Perhaps more reflective of its current situation is the view that it is a city for the visionary (Roskelly, 1993). The latter refers mainly to its prospects for the developer, but perhaps it should apply generally to all those who have a role in shaping the future of the city.