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Warsaw, a city of Old World charm that was turned to rubble and ash by Nazi Germany, has been reborn twice since then.Almost three decades of postcommunist economic growth have produced a booming city of modern glass architecture, cutting-edge museums and revitalized historic buildings.Investment accelerated further when Poland joined the European Union in 2004, with 17.5 billion zlotys ($4.7 billion) invested in hundreds of projects since 2007, soon after Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz took office, according to city spokesman Bartosz Milczarczyk.In recent years the city of more than 1.7 million people has received a second metro line, 400 kilometers of new bike paths and modern wastewater treatment and water purification systems. Gentrification has also produced soaring real estate prices, with the cost of apartments 26 percent higher today than even a year ago in Warsaw's central district, according to Karolina Zubel, an economist with the Center for Social and Economic Research in Warsaw.Even commercial rents are rising fast as large business centers relocate to Warsaw from cities like London and Paris, she said.Milczarczyk, the city spokesman, says the skyscrapers are needed to attract international capital.Magdalena Barcik, who moved to Warsaw 20 years ago from the small town of Myszkow, measures the progress also in the greater citizen participation allowed in city decisions and in seemingly small changes – like people finally being allowed to sit on the lawns of the elegant Lazienki Park, once the grounds of a king.
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