The earliest information in which the name of Brzeziny appears is from the mid-14th century and it is related to the local parish church.[1.1] In the beginning Brzeziny belonged to the royal demesnes. Its first owner known by name was the governor of Łęczyca – Borzywój. Other places which belonged to Brzeziny were: the town of Brzeziny, the village of Brzeziny, and the villages of Lipiny and Polik. The first mayor of the town was Mikołaj (known only by his first name) in 1426. In the Renaissance period, i.e. in the second half of the 16th and at the beginning of the 17th century there were about 300 workshops and Brzeziny became the most important centre of cloth production in Poland. In the 16th century the town was inhabited by Scots, whose main occupation was brewing. In 1752 also Germans, mainly craftsmen, settled in. The growth of the town was halted in the second half of the 17th century.[1.2] The development of the cottage industry tailoring ended the economic collapse of the town in the late 19th century and started its rapid growth.[1.3] Brzeziny became a significant centre of clothing production. Cheap products were intended for the Kingdom of Poland lower-class buyers. A large part of the clothing production was exported to the Russian markets. Since then the growth of the town was closely connected with the economic situation in the clothing industry.
During annexation the economy of the town plunged into stagnation. The industrial area of Łódź did not influence Brzeziny. In addition, the town was far from the main communication routes.
The economy based on agriculture, distillation, brewing and tanning, while craft and trade were not of the first importance. During the interwar period the cottage industry tailoring developed rapidly.[1.2] In 1937 there were 649 tailoring workshops in Brzeziny County. The total number of firms was 2623, comprising 1456 Jewish and 1167 Christian ones. After the Second World War, on 1 June 1945 the First Mechanical Tailoring Plant was set up, which produced army uniforms. Two years later the firm was transformed into ”Mechanical Sewing Factory No. 8” which belonged to the Polish State Tailoring Factories in Łódź, and later transformed into Brzeziny Clothing Industry Workshops – Damina. In 1963 Damina employed 1322 workers and produced women’s wear. The 1970s were the best years in the history of that firm.[1.2]
Four catholic churches founded between the 14th and mid-18th century are the only remnants of Brzeziny old buildings. Until 1882 houses were built mainly of wood. In 1860 there were 334 houses including only 5 which were built of bricks. In 1875 fire destroyed a few dozen houses in the town centre including the whole Jewish district with its wooden synagogue. New Neo-Renaissance, eclectic and modernistic tenement houses were built in place of the burnt ones. About 80 of those buildings survived, mainly in the streets: 3 Reformacka, 1, 13, 15, 16/18 Św. Anny, 1 Staszica, 10 and 12 Mickiewicza, 2 Berka Joselewicza, 13 Sienkiewicza and 18 Piłsudskiego Streets.
The process of shaping the Brzeziny area, which at present is 22.4 km2, ended in 1853. The town belonged to the Russian Empire to 1915 and between 1915 and 1918 Brzeziny were under German occupation. The town was a capital of the district until 1975. Between 1975 and 1998 the administrative town belonged to Skierniewickie Province.[1.6]
[1.1] Nowak T., Rosin R., Wiklas H., Brzeziny i okolice do schyłku XVI w. [w:] Brzeziny. Dzieje miasta do 1995 roku, red. Badziak Kazimierz, Łódź – Brzeziny 1997, s. 43
[1.3] Kołodziej J., Wizerunek Brzezin [w:] Brzeziny na starej fotografii, red. Elżbieta Putyńska, Brzeziny 1997, s. 5
[1.6] Kołodziej J., Wizerunek Brzezin…, s. 5
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