When Poland regained its independence in 1918, it did not immediately get a long awaited access to the sea. The ceremony of Poland’s marriage to the sea only took place on 10 February 1920 when the Treaty of Versailles was ratified and gave Poland a strip of the coast—without a port.
Within less than 3 months after the ceremony in Puck, a search began for the most suitable place to build a port.
On 23 September 1922, the Polish Parliament passed a resolution “on building a port at Gdynia in Pomerania as a public port.” The national investment paid for itself even before the Second World War, also acting as a catalyst for public verve and patriotism. Thanks to Gdynia, Poles came to believe that they could make the 20th century’s most ambitious dreams and challenges come true. On 10 February 1926, Gdynia received its city charter.
Today Gdynia has Poland’s second largest seaport in terms of handling volume. It specialises in container handling, but is also considered the most versatile port on the Polish coast. It is also the main passenger port of the Tri-City of Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot.
Since the 1990s, Gdynia has been developing a finance sector and has been opening office buildings for companies from various industries. The Pomeranian Science and Technology Park has been operating since 2001. After an expansion in 2013, it became the largest research and development facility in Poland in terms of size.
On 16 March 2015, Polish President Bronisław Komorowski awarded the status of a historical monument to downtown Gdynia’s urban layout.
Gdynia’s urban layout, with an area of over 90 ha, was shaped in the twenty-year period between the World Wars. This is a very densely developed area with some 450 buildings. The historical layout was determined by three stages of settlement: rural, holidaymaking and urban.
Together with 10 Lutego Street and Jana Pawła II Avenue, Kościuszko Square is Gdynia’s calling card.
The junction of the Square with Świętojańska and 10 Lutego Streets is Gdynia’s central point.
It is a favourite place to go for walks for both locals and tourists. This is where the Dar Pomorza and ORP Błyskawica are moored, with the Oceanographic Museum and the Sea Aquarium nearby.
This is also where the passenger port terminal is located. Skwer Kościuszki is one of the favourite places to go for walks for both locals and tourists, and a venue for many concerts, festivals and other events.
Polish destroyer, one of two destroyers of the Grom class, was commissioned in 1937. It took part in World War II operations from the first to the last days of the War in Europe, fighting in the Atlantic, the North and the Mediterranean Sea, including in the Norwegian Campaign and the evacuation from Dunkirk, the Battle for the Atlantic, Operations Torch and Overlord and the Battle of Ushant. It ended its operations at the side of the Allies with Operation Deadlight. In May 1946 the Błyskawica was taken over by the Royal Navy and returned under the Polish flag on 1 July 1947.
After undergoing repairs and rearmament it returned to active duty as the flagship of the Polish Navy and also served as a training vessel for the personnel of the Polish fleet. After a boiler room malfunction in 1967 further repairs were deemed uneconomic and from 1969 it remained in Świnoujście as a stationary anti-aircraft ship. Since May 1976 it has been moored in the Port of Gdynia as a museum ship, the oldest existing destroyer in the world.
Monument to the People of the Sea
The Monument stands in the Port of Gdynia at Gombrowicza Square in the direct vicinity of the Maritime Station and the harbour master’s office.
The Monument was unveiled on 22 July 1965. It bears an inscription “To the People of the Sea ” and a quote from the Medieval Chronicle of Gallus Anonymous as translated by Franciszek Fenikowski: “Today the sons are not afraid of the storms or the swoosh of the sea waters.” The entire Monument is made up of four post-glacial erratic boulders (taken from the sea floor when Gdynia’s port had been dredged) symbolising the four maritime professions: longshoremen, seamen, fishermen and shipbuilders.
The navy harbour is located in the district of Oksywie in the eastern part of Gdynia. Initially, the harbour operated as the “Temporary Naval and Fishing Harbour” (today’s Francuskie Wharf in the Port of Gdynia). The construction of the navy harbour in Oksywie began in 1925. In 1926, the navy harbour command was transferred from Puck to Gdynia.
The headquarters of the Emigration Museum in Gdynia is right by the sea. It is housed in the historical building of the Marine Station, which was erected during the period between the World Wars.
The Marine Station was the central hub of pre-World War II passenger traffic. Legendary Polish ocean liners – such as the MS Batory – were moored here. When it was opened in 1933, it was one of the most modern buildings of its kind in Europe. It was deeply integrated into the emerging city – it formed the main part of the extensive emigrational infrastructure aided by the Transit Warehouse (Main Departure Hall), Emigration Camp in the district of Grabówek, and quarantine hospital in Babie Doły. It was through here that hundreds of thousands of people departed from Poland before the outbreak of the war. In later years, the maritime passenger traffic was restored on a much more modest scale, while the last Polish ocean liner was decommissioned in 1988.
The emerging Emigration Museum in Gdynia is one of very few institutions that speak of history in a place that was indeed connected to the subject: in a building that serviced emigration traffic for decades.