Industrial Heritage Tourism: a Regional Perspective (Warsaw)
When touring a region, one of the things previous generations certainly overlooked were the industrial areas. With the exception of the old saltmine "Wieliczka" in the south of Poland, industrial heritage was mainly unknown. Industrial landscape (mills, factories with chimneys emitting all-blackening smoke, poverty-stricken workers' houses) have been regarded with dislike and considered grim.
Using the example of Warsaw's industrial heritage revitalization projects, we examined already modernized historic buildings, which sought to respond to tourist and leisure needs (museums, art galleries, cultural centres). We were interested in their new functions and meanings for urban space quality. We wanted to consider how much revitalized architecture help to change (socially, culturally, economically) declining areas and their painful "inner-city" image (Thorns 2001). Our research (carried out in 2005-2006) covered nine historic industrial compounds, already converted and having new functions. Results of our inquiry polls (taken in 2005-2006) confirmed the thesis, that revitalized historic industrial architecture might enrich urban space with values visible in many dimensions: social, historical, aesthetical and economic (Evans 2005). Although selected and studied cases in Warsaw were not completed equally successfully, due to the objective barriers or carelessness in the planning process, all show good results in space quality and cultural services improvement, appreciated by the local community members and visitors relevantly.
Once neglected run-down Warsaw districts (Wola, Praga) now draw benefits from new identities, attracting tourists and enhancing the local community's sense of belonging and well-being. Similar cases were described by scholars after studies in other European cities (Jones 2006).