The Warsaw palm tree on the de Gaulle roundabout is one of the symbols of the capital. In connection with the modernisation of the underground cross-city line, the roundabout is to disappear from the city’s landscape, as the Polish State Railways (PKP S.A.) are planning a new railway stop there. According to officials, the changes in this part of the city centre will make it easier for public transport passengers to change trains and will be beneficial for pedestrians. And what about the palm tree?
The Polish State Railways (PKP) is planning to carry out a major overhaul of Warsaw’s cross-city line, the rail link between the West and East railway stations. This will require digging up the very centre of the capital for several years, so the city wants to carry out changes to the road system in the city centre at the same time. The changes are to take place by the end of 2030.
Warsaw’s palm tree in 2015. Photo Валерий Дед, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
One of the biggest changes will be the reconstruction of the General Charles de Gaulle roundabout and the creation of a regular intersection there, according to plans that have been known for years. The local plan for the area, adopted in 2017, indicates that the roundabout there is overscaled, too large in relation to the surrounding road system. This causes, among other things, an impediment to smooth public transport transfers and impedes pedestrian and cycle traffic in the area. The planned removal of the de Gaulle roundabout will be a return to the pre-1961 state of affairs, when there was a regular intersection at this location. As part of the works, the other famous Dmowski roundabout will also disappear.
As a result of the redevelopment, the central island will be removed, so the artificial palm tree will have to change location. It was placed in the middle of the roundabout in 2002 as Joanna Rajkowska’s art project ‘Greetings from Jerozolimskie Avenue’. The original idea for the installation envisaged a whole row of trees of this type. Ultimately, Rajkowska decided to set up a single palm tree. It was made by the American company Soul-utions.com from plastic and natural materials. Approximately 15 metres high, it is waterproof and stability is ensured by being set on a metal structure weighted down with precast concrete.
The installation refers to the former Jewish settlement of New Jerusalem, from which Jerusalem Avenue takes its name. Similar plants to the Warsaw imitation grow in Israel. In 2007, the palm underwent a renovation, during which the bark on the trunk and leaves were replaced, which completely changed the shape of the artificial tree’s crown.
According to the 2017 local plan, the palm tree can remain in the urban space. City officials ensure that this peculiar symbol of the capital will not disappear, and the area around the new intersection of Jerozolimskie Avenue and Nowy Świat is being considered as a new location.
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