The practical development of the port city of Gdansk was the time of the Teutonic Order, including the construction of the Radunia Canal and the Great Mill, and in the 15th century it was already a large and organized port. The Motlawa River was the marina. But it was only the membership of the Association of Hanseatic Cities that gave the city tangible benefits, which gave it a privileged place in European trade. Gdansk even had the right to mint its own coin, control shipping in the port and free transport of goods from Poland and Lithuania. The city grew in strength and quickly grew rich in trade, mainly with grain from Żuławy Steblewskie, nowadays Żuławy Gdańskie, the city was also rich in wood, which was delivered to the port of Gdańsk from the forests of the Gdańsk Highland.
The unique position of Gdańsk was strengthened by its monopoly on foreign maritime trade and the high aspirations of the patriciate, acting as the ruler of the city and patron of the arts. The citizens of Gdańsk were sensitive to art and curious about the world. The middle-class townspeople were characterized by a high level of culture.
The golden age of the city dates back to the 17th century. Gdańsk was then one of the largest and richest port cities in Europe. It attracted merchants, sailors, people of science and art from all over Europe. After a 12-hour working day, ordinary people were thirsty for rest and entertainment. In hams and taverns they spent time listening to music, dancing, sometimes they got hurt, and most of all they listened to sailors' stories about overseas countries and amazing adventures. Chess, cards, dice and dominoes were commonly played. Catholic holidays provided great attractions. Prima Aprilis was celebrated, in the summer Dominic was joyfully welcomed, and in winter the famous Gdańsk carnivals were held. The May knightly tournaments, which ended with a grand ball at the Main Town Hall or Artus Court, were very popular with both the plebeians and the patricians.
Agricultural crops were delivered from noble estates to Gdańsk from all over Poland, mainly by water (Vistula). Special relations between merchants from Gdansk and the peasants of Żuławy caused the peasants to get rich very quickly and thanks to trade with Gdansk they were much richer and better educated than this social class in other regions of Poland. The culture of Gdańsk, science, fashion and the way of resting after work and celebrating permeated Żuławy. Gdańsk Highland was an important economic base for the city. It was here, however, that the feudal system reigned, abolished no sooner than in the 18th century. It was here that the first factories strengthening Gdańsk's economy were built, and rich Gdańsk patricians built their manors and summer residences, creating a unique kind of Pomeranian nobility. The area also provided water and later, after the construction of several power plants, energy to Gdańsk.
In 1945, there was an almost complete exchange of people in Gdańsk. It was similar in Żuławy Gdańskie and to a much lesser extent in the Gdańsk Highland associated with Kashubia. Most of the native inhabitants were displaced to Germany, while repatriates from the east and people from Pomerania and central Poland were imported.