Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Trenton, My Trenton: The North Poles

NORTH TRENTON -- They arrived between 1880 and 1950 and built this chunk of the city along Brunswick Avenue between Olden Avenue and Mulberry Street and Princeton Avenue and New York Avenue. There is no landmark sign, but this part of North Trenton is known as "Little Poland." Slovaks, Slovenians, Czechs and Russians live here, too.

Little Poland is where you come to eat authentic kielbasa and pieroges and stuffed cabbage and "Best Rye Bread" and savory pastries and drink Polish fizzy lifting drinks at Cosmo Food Market and Rozmaryn's and Henry's and European Bakery and Villa Polonia. Little Poland is home to St. Hedwig's, one of Trenton's eye-candy churches, built in 1919 by Polish immigrants. Nine years earlier, Polish-born royal architect Fredryk Poszky designed the Polish Falcon Hall, a community center where to this day Poles congregate. Poszky fled Russia on the eve of the Communist Revolution, according to Wikipedia. Little Poland is home to the Polish-American Democratic Club, built in 1927, for the purpose of teaching young Poles about American politics "with the hope of getting them involved in politics."

The 2000 Census listed Polish people as 3% of Trenton's population of 84,319, about the same percentage in 2010, and in Little Poland they live on streets named after states (Ohio, Indiana, Vermont, Pennsylvania) or trees (Mulberry, Spruce, Pine, Myrtle).

I walked those blocks for about 90 minutes today and took these photos along with a video and audio clips.

The dome of St. Hedwig's in the background

Most posted bills in business windows are in Polish

A small Russian population lives in Little Poland

How long has this Yellow Pages been on the porch?

It's a Man's World (Gym)

Metro Goldwyn Trenton?

There are lots of flowers in Little Poland

And a handful of churches

Soon after that photo I crossed the street to walk along the north side of Brunswick Avenue. I stumbled upon an elderly couple gardening on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning.

Their names are Wesley and Christina Kamnisky. They have lived in Little Poland for about 50 years and had kids, whose kids are starting college, and they owned a travel agency and a fishing store. I asked Christina to say something in Polish:

The near building is the now-closed fishing store, and the travel agency is the corner building across the street. They've since leased that building.

Christina told me the story about these decorative fish that in a wire fishing net at the entrance of that building.

Here's a visual of how that electronic ladder works:

Christina also told me about a Polish deli that I hadn't heard about. It's across the street from Christopher Columbus Elementary School, right on the edge of Lawrence Township:

So I went there and bought this for early lunch: kielbasa, which was great, and Polish fizzy lifting drink, which was cold, fizzy and satisfying.

And here are the rest of the photos of today's adventure in Little Poland, North Trenton:

St. Hedwig's Church

I unknowingly walked into Lawrence Township. Oh, and "steamy goodness!"

Saw this Lawrence woman riding her board and clicked away.

Back in Little Poland, North Trenton, home of stately & tree street names

Man in truck on Pennsylvania Avenue

This little piece stopped the big machine cold

Damn fuel pump thing

Tried to get him to talk in Polish. He didn't understand my request.


  1. Beautiful day in Trenton looks like.. love the flower photos.. the pink especially. I'd love to know why there's a replica of David in front of a 'man's world gym.'

  2. I miss this old neighborhood, growing up on Cherry Street. The street people from the ghetto are slowly destroying this area.That's why I moved. Thanks for the photos.

    Paul Varga
    Simpsonville, So. Carolina