Houses in Tykocin

Old house near town square in Tykocin

Many of the houses in Tykocin look like barns, with what appears to be a hayloft in the attic space, but you can tell they are dwellings because they are right next to the sidewalk and have curtains in the window. Note the cobblestone street in front of the house.

The house that is shown in the photo below is a log house, weathered to a natural gray color; notice the tin roof. All of the houses in Tykocin are built close to the very narrow streets. I didn't select these particular houses to photograph because they are unique; most of the houses in Tykocin look like this.

Old log house with tin roof in village of Tykocin

If these barn-like houses look familiar, it may be because you have seen houses just like them in the movie "Fiddler on the Roof." After Poland was partitioned for the third time in 1795, Tykocin was located in the section that came under the control of Russia. Between 1835 and 1917, Tykocin was included in the Pale of Settlement, the reservation where the Jews were forced to live by decree of Russian Czar Nicholas I. The movie depicts the life of the Jews in the Pale and ends with the start of their expulsion in 1881 after the assassination of Czar Nicholas I during the revolutionary activity, that was just beginning, which finally culminated in the overthrow of Czar Nicholas II by the Communists in 1917.

Two million Jews were expelled from the Russian sector of the former country of Poland between 1881 and the start of World War I in 1914. Most of the Jews from the Pale came to America, but some settled in Germany or the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1917, some of the Jews from the Pale of Settlement, who had emigrated to America, returned to fight in the Communist Revolution.