Crespi d'Adda is a historic settlement and an outstanding example of the 19th and early 20th-century 'company towns' built in Europe and North America by enlightened industrialists to meet the workers' needs. The site is still intact and is partly used for industrial purposes, although changing economic and social conditions now threaten its survival. Since 1995 it has been on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.
In 1869 Cristoforo Benigno Crespi, a textile manufacturer from Busto Arsizio (Varese), bought the 1 km valley between the rivers Brembo and Adda, to the south of Capriate, with the intention of installing a cotton mill on the banks of the Adda.
Cristoforo Crespi introduced the most modern spinning, weaving and finishing processes in his Cotton Mill. The Hydroelectric power plant in Trezzo, on the Adda river just a few kilometers upwards, was built up around 1906 for the manufacturer Cristoforo Benigno Crespi. The settlement which was built in 1878 next to the cotton-mill was a village, a residential area provided with social services such as a clinic, a school building, a theatre, a cemetery, a wash-house and a church.
Both the town and the factory were illuminated thanks to electric light. The village of Crespi d'Adda was the first village in Italy to have modern public lighting. The workers houses, of English inspiration, are lined up in order along parallel roads to the East of the factory. A tree-lined avenue separates the production zone from the houses, overlooking a chequer-board road plan. The whole architecture and town planning (except the first spinning department, created by engineer Angelo Colla), was submitted to the architect Ernesto Pirovano.
In 1889 the son of Cristoforo, Silvio Benigno Crespi, started work in the factory as a director, after spending time in Oldham, England. He turned away from the large multiple-occupancy blocks in favour of the single-family house, with its own garden, which he saw as conducive to harmony and a defence against industrial strife. He put this policy into practice in 1892 and the years that followed, with success, since there was no strike or other form of social disorder for the fifty yers of Crespi management.
The Great Depression of 1929 and the harsh fascist fiscal policy resulted in the Crespi family being obliged to sell the entire town to STI, the Italian textile enterprise, which transferred it to the Rossarl e Varzi company in 1970. It then passed to the Legler company, which sold off most of the houses. It was last in the hands of the Polli industrial group, which employed some 600 people, as compared with the 3200 employed during the years of maximum activity.
Today the village is inhabited by a community largely descended from the original workers. The factory stopped production only in 2004, its field of activity throughout its working life having been cotton textile production.References:
The Cloth Hall in Kraków dates to the Renaissance and is one of the city's most recognizable icons. It is the central feature of the main market square in the Kraków Old Town (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978).
The hall was once a major centre of international trade. Traveling merchants met there to discuss business and to barter. During its golden age in the 15th century, the hall was the source of a variety of exotic imports from the east – spices, silk, leather and wax – while Kraków itself exported textiles, lead, and salt from the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Kraków was Poland's capital city and was among the largest cities in Europe already from before the time of the Renaissance. However, its decline started with the move of the capital to Warsaw in the very end of the 16th century. The city's decline was hastened by wars and politics leading to the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century. By the time of the architectural restoration proposed for the cloth hall in 1870 under Austrian rule, much of the historic city center was decrepit. A change in political and economic fortunes for the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria ushered in a revival due to newly established Legislative Assembly or Sejm of the Land. The successful renovation of the Cloth Hall, based on design by Tomasz Pryliński and supervised by Mayor Mikołaj Zyblikiewicz, Sejm Marshal, was one of the most notable achievements of this period.
The hall has hosted many distinguished guests over the centuries and is still used to entertain monarchs and dignitaries, such as Charles, Prince of Wales and Emperor Akihito of Japan, who was welcomed here in 2002. In the past, balls were held here, most notably after Prince Józef Poniatowski had briefly liberated the city from the Austrians in 1809. Aside from its history and cultural value, the hall still is still used as a center of commerce.
On the upper floor of the hall is the Sukiennice Museum division of the National Museum, Kraków. It holds the largest permanent exhibit of the 19th-century Polish painting and sculpture, in four grand exhibition halls arranged by historical period and the theme extending into an entire artistic epoch. The museum was upgraded in 2010 with new technical equipment, storerooms, service spaces as well as improved thematic layout for the display.
The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art was a major cultural venue from the moment it opened on October 7, 1879. It features late Baroque, Rococo, and Classicist 18th-century portraits and battle scenes by Polish and foreign pre-Romantics.