Jeffersonville has something in common with Gdansk. Both cities have extensive tracts of waterside property once devoted to building boats.
The former Jeffboat, meet the former Lenin Shipyards.
There’s an obvious difference in scale as well as historical experience. The shipyards in Gdansk occupied a huge expanse of ground, while Jeffboat’s footprint is long and narrow.
Clark County has no alumni with quite the pedigree of Lech Wałęsa, although the latter never refereed NFL games, as former Jeffersonville mayor Dale Orem did.
In both instances, there is considerable redevelopment potential.
The word shipyard is synonymous with Gdansk, due in the main to the social and political phenomenon that was Solidarity, the trade union movement which exploded out of the shipyard amid the strikes of 1980. Since then, the name Gdansk for many has conjured up images of masses of striking workers led by a small man with a bushy moustache, while in the background hulked the giant cranes of the shipyard – the Lenin Shipyard. Well it appears that this shipyard is about to change forever and in doing so reflect changes, more than anywhere else in Gdansk, that it helped bring about over 30 years earlier.
In the spring of 2013 plans were presented to the public showing the future of a large swath of the Gdansk Shipyard. These plans, as we will see later, propose to revitalise this historic area and to re-connect it to the main city of Gdansk a short distance away along the Motlawa river. The new development is to be called Mlode Miasto (Young City) and while this name might look like the result of months of work by a high-powered PR agency’s image team, it in fact in recognition of the first organised settlement of the area over 600 years ago.
Although work connected to ship building and maintenance continues in many parts of the shipyard area today, the bulk of what was once the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk has slowly been rotting away since the fall of communism. The collapse of the system which Solidarity helped to bring about, saw demand for ships that were built here to collapse as well. The yard today stands largely empty and as work begins on the initial projects relating to the creation of Young City Gdansk, there is an opportunity to take a look at what is left of this historic area.
As for the high-powered PR agency, this might be the one. The quality of the mock-ups exceeds those typically produced by New Albany’s redevelopment commission.
Młode Miasto or Young City Gdansk has always had a significant role in the development of the City. Since the first official mentioning in historical chronicles in 1380 it has been recognized as a new and attractive settlement area for future generations. More than 600 years of different purposes for this land will have a continuation now. With such a rich past the identity of the new neighbourhood should be built around it.
In closing, stay tuned for the inevitable photographs of this and other experiences in Gdansk.