Wrzeszcz is today one of the borroughs of the Northern Polish city of Gdansk. The name Wrzeszcz is a little bit unusual even for native Polish speakers. It is derived from an ancient topographical name of the area i.e. Wrzost which is the old Polish equivalent of Wrzos or heather. The terrain used to house a forest and heather fields. Historical sources mention the name Wrzeszcz (Vriezst) in 1261 AD. The Cistercian Monks of Oliwa owned four or five water mills on the Strzyza in Wrzeszcz at the end of the 13th century. In 1412 AD the suburban village was granted to Gdansk city councillor Gerd von der Beke, an ally of the Teutonic Knights.
In the late 16th century and early 17th century the settlement was held by the Bischof family. It was slowly gaining a farming and residential character. From 1616 AD on the Koehne family started acquiring possessions in the Wrzeszcz area. The Gdansk patrician Zachzriusz Zappio acquired most of the ground between today's 'Slowackiego' and 'Do Studzienki' streets. He built for himself a city palace there. It must have been a very representative residence since king Jan III Sobieski visited there in 1677 AD. The little valley where the palace was located was renamed to Dolina Krolewska or King's Valley to commemorate the visit. Strictly speaking in the 17th century the name Wrzeszcz referred to a tiny market square sized 130m by 35 m on what today is known as Aleja Grunwaldzka.
Between 1767 - 1770 an ancient tract between Gdansk proper and Wrzeszcz was replaced by a four-lane, 2 kilometer, tree lined avenue called the Grand Avenue. Each row of the avenue was lined by 350 trees which were at the time imported from Holland. The avenue devoured (for the time) an immense sum of 100.000 guilders. The work was a personal project of the sitting Gdansk mayor Daniel Gralath.
In the 18th century residential construction aimed at the wealthy city folk took precedence. The erected residences were mostly classicistic with beatiful gardens and the obligatory tree lined drive ways. In 1804 Wrzeszcz was inhabited by approximately 900 people. Most of these workd in the wajdaz factories (a kind if ash used to bleach cloth), breweries, distilleries and regular small scale retail. On December 6th 1807, under French protectorate, the Gdansk-Prussian convention was signed which ceded Nowy Port, Oliwa, Wrzeszcz, Ostrow, Siedlce and Hel to the city. From mid 19th century onwards Wrzeszcz grew to become a fashionable and wealthy borrough. More and more beautifully decorated city villas were erected as well as spacious accomodation for the local labourers. In 1872 Wrzeszcz was joined to Gdansk by a horse drawn tram which rode on the Grand Avenue.
In 1904 the Gdansk Politechnic Grand Hall was built, soon followed by the city hospital which now houses the medical academy. World War II was relatively kind to Wrzeszcz as only a few buildings suffered during the war. More damage to the beautiful buildings occured soon after the war when the communist regime led a policy of eradicating the remnants of capitalism from the wealthy borrough. A lot of buildings were intentionally allowed to fall into total disrepair. Many owners were evicted and their houses separated into tiny appartments which were then leased to people with no means of maintaining them. Some buildings survive in good repair, among them the consulate of Germany, China, USA and several other countries as well as some houses whose owners resisted eviction during the communist era. The borrough is now slowly returning to its former glory. A lot of commercial acitivity is going on, many international firms such as Citibank, ING Bank, Fortis Bank, Shell etc. chose to located their offices in Wrzeszcz as opposed to the city center.