Remarkable 93-year-old film showing construction of Łódź sewer canals found in America

Showing workers laying down pipes, the footage is the only film documenting the construction of the city’s sewage system, which was considered a technological marvel at the time. IPNtvPL

Unique footage from 1927 showing the construction of Łódź’s sewer systems has been found in the United States.

The 93-year-old video was discovered by the Polish Army Veterans Association which took it during a pre-war tour they made of the city.

The 1’48-second film was shot in 1927.IPNtvPL

Showing workers laying down pipes, the footage is the only film documenting the construction of the city’s sewage system which, designed by British engineer William Heerlein Lindley, was considered a technological marvel at the time.

Mateusz Wika from the Sewerage and Water Supply Department of the City of Łódź (ZWiK) said: “The works on the sewerage collectors were documented in photographs, but not recorded on film.

On August 8th, 1927, a group of veterans from General Józef Haller’s ‘Blue Army’ (military unit formed in France in 1917), arrived in Łódź.IPNtvPL

“After all, the construction of the sewage system was an epochal event in the history of our city - a huge effort of the local government, which tried to compensate for civilization's backwardness".

At the beginning of the 20th century, the expanding industrial city of Łódź had no sewer system nor running water.


The 500,000 residents poured sewage directly onto the streets and drew water from shallow, often contaminated backyard wells.

The dramatic sanitary conditions, made worse by overpopulation, led to epidemics breaking out in the agglomeration.

As well as being a tourist attraction the sewer canals have also appeared in films, most noticeably Agnieszka Holland’s Oscar-nominated film In Darkness.Grzegorz Michałowski/PAP

When work began on the new sewers it was often showed to dignitaries and guests visiting the city.

On August 8th, 1927, a group of veterans from General Józef Haller’s ‘Blue Army’ (military unit formed in France in 1917), arrived in Łódź.

The new sewers were often shown to dignitaries and guests visiting the city.IPNtvPL

The Sewerage and Water Supply Department of the City of Łódź will use the newly-discovered film, together with an extensive archive of photos, plans, and drawings to present the system's history on its 95th anniversary this year.Muzeum Kanału Dętka/Facebook

Their stay was documented by American filmmakers.

Wika said: "The fruit of the filmmakers' work was found in the archives of the Association of Polish Army Veterans in America and digitally processed by the employees of the National Film Archives and the Institute of National Remembrance.

“Thanks to the courtesy of Dr. Teofil Lachowicz, the Association archive’s caretaker, it has become possible to make this extraordinary film public.”

Mateusz Wika from the Sewerage and Water Supply Department of the City of Łódź said: "The fruit of the filmmakers' work was found in the archives of the Association of Polish Army Veterans in America and digitally processed by the employees of the National Film Archives and the Institute of National Remembrance. Grzegorz Michałowski/PAP

The veterans visited the underground storm drain at the junction of Pienista and Denna streets - the largest overflow channel in Łódź.

Today, tourists can discovery of Łódź canals by visiting the ‘Dętka’ museum, which is located in the underground structures.

The Sewerage and Water Supply Department of the City of Łódź will use the newly-discovered film, together with an extensive archive of photos, plans, and drawings to present the system's history on its 95th anniversary this year.