The history of Karowa street
In the beginning was a gorge. It was exceptionally steep compared to those from which neighbouring Bednarska and Mostowa street emerged. Down the gorge the brooks draining water from where Piłsudski Square is now, hillside streams, and, with city expansion, community sewage were flowing.
The beginnings of the street date back to building a dike connecting the hill with the river embankment. A narrow track is approximately 4 metres, enough to fit wheelbarrows passing by, transporting municipal waste to the settlers of the river embankment. The street becomes refuse dump of the city and the carts known as kary (Latin currus) give rise to the name of the street. Karowa appears officially on the map of Warsaw in 1770. In 1855 the first symbols of the city, the gate with a fountain and a mermaid statue, appear near the embankment along Krakowskie Przedmieście.
As Marconi waterpipe is built the carts are replaced by the pipes pumping water to the water tower in the Saxon Garden and the city sewage into the Vistula. At the end of the nineteenth century Marconi waterpipe yielded ground to the sewage pumping station in Powiśle, a part of Lindley‘s waterwork system.
Below Karowa street, in the area of Hotel Bristol today, a huge overflow chamber appears. It pipes the excess water through storm drain to the Vistula during heavy rain. Urban ambitions of municipal authorities to convert the city into a representative artery connecting Powiśle with Krakowskie Przedmieście put an end to the characteristic gate with the fountain and the mermaid statue. A snail-shaped viaduct, a new symbol of the street, appears in their place. As there were plans to build underground in Karowa street, the viaduct, as its predecessor, was meant to be destroyed, which never happened.
Karowa is one of the most peculiar streets of Śródmieście, comprising three distinct parts: the upper, stretching from Krakowskie Przedmieście to the viaduct, the snail-shaped viaduct, and the lower part which, as the riverbed receded from the embankment, would extend to Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie. Karowa has never fully come into being. It is the street of two worlds, worse Powiśle and the city whose ambitions have never been realized. The ghost street...
More on the history of the street can be found in the guide KAROWA published by the HMH and available in Księgarnia XX wieku bookshop.