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St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG

From 1712 until 1918, St. Petersburg was the capital of the Russian Empire. Peter I (the Great) began the construction of the city as his "Window on the West" in 1703. During the subsequent three centuries, St. Petersburg was identified with the three major forces shaping Russian history: Westernization, industrialization, and revolution. The city was renamed Petrograd in 1914, at the beginning of World War I, because it sounded less German, was then named Leningrad after the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, and again became St. Petersburg in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Confusingly, the surrounding region (oblast) is still known as Leningrad.

In the early twenty-first century, with a metropolitan population of 4.8 million people, St. Petersburg is the second-largest city in Russia and the fourth-largest in Europe (behind Moscow, London, and Berlin). It is also Russia's second-most important industrial center, having benefited from Soviet investment in heavy industry, research and development, military-industrial production, and military basing and training. The city is a major international port and tourist destination, with tourists flocking there in May and June for the legendary "White Nights," during which the sun seems to never set.

capital of the russian empire

Peter the Great seized control over the confluence of the Neva River and the Gulf of Finland from Sweden in 1703. Inspired by a visit to Amsterdam, he decided to build a major city on this barren marshland to better integrate Russia into Western Europe and secure a Baltic port. Thousands of peasants and prisoners-of-war were pressed into service to build the city's numerous canals and palaces. When the harsh climate combined with malaria to kill tens of thousands of them, their bodies were dumped into the construction sites, leading to St. Petersburg's nickname as the "city built on bones." Construction was hampered by floods, which also ravaged the city in 1777, 1824, 1924, and 1955.

Empress Elizabeth, Peter's daughter, improved upon her father's vision by commissioning European architects such as Bartolomeo Rastrelli to construct baroque landmarks, including Winter Palace, the Smolny Institute, and the palaces of Tsarskoe Selo. Catherine II (the Great) subsequently purchased the paintings, drawings, and other priceless artworks that are now the core of the Hermitage Museum's holdings. She also established the Russian Academy of Arts to further aesthetic production, and she commissioned the Pavlovsk Palace, the Hermitage, and the Tauride Palace, later the meeting place of the first Duma and the Provisional Government.

The city's remarkable transformation from swamp to showcase paralleled the emergence of Russia as a major European power, from Peter's 1709 victory over the Swedes at Poltava to Alexander I's 1814 arrival in Paris. The city came to represent precisely this change from isolation to European integration. Petersburg's growing symbolic dominance preoccupied the country's intelligentsia and nobility alike, with Tsar Nicholas I

complaining that "Petersburg is Russian but it is not Russia."

During the imperial era, Russia's leading politicians, intellectuals, and cultural figures were brought together by the major institutions based in St. Petersburg to generate events that vitally affected the life of every member of Russian society. The Decembrist uprising of 1825 culminated in Senate (now Decembrist) Square. In January 1905, Father Gapon led a peaceful march of workers and their families to the Winter Palace to petition the tsar; the resulting slaughter is remembered as Bloody Sunday. Following that tragedy, the workers of St. Petersburg became increasingly militant. Forced to live and work in squalor due to Russia's rapid forced industrialization, they began to protest and strike for improved conditions.

By the dawn of the twentieth century, the city was the fifth-largest in Europe, behind London, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin, and was widely viewed as representative of imperial Russia's new military and industrial might. But with industrialization there also emerged a surging revolutionary movement, and "Red Petrograd" soon became the "cradle of the Revolution."

under the soviets

With the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Nicholas II russified the capital city's name to Petrograd. In the early days of the war, the streets of Petrograd were filled with young men volunteering for military service. But as Russian losses mounted and the economy declined still further, Petrograd became the focus of anti-tsarist sentiment. The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, founded in 1917 and modeled on a 1905 organization, was the most active. In March (February O.S.) 1917, workers struck and soldiers mutinied, leading to the eventual abdication of Nicholas II. A Provisional Government was installed, but constantly battled the Petrograd Soviet for control of the city. During the "July Days," the Soviet nearly succeeded in gaining power. On November 7 (October 25, O.S.), members of Trotsky's Red Guards stormed the Winter Palace, and the Provisional Government fled. For the next seventy-four years, the communists would control Russia.

The Soviet regime's shift of its seat of government to Moscow in March 1918 stripped Petrograd of many of its most creative and powerful institutions and prominent individuals. The city was renamed Leningrad after the death of Lenin in 1924. Its standing was further undermined by the December 1934 assassination of Leningrad Party leader Sergei Kirov in his office at the Smolny Institute, which precipitated Josef Stalin's mass purges. Mass graves containing the victims were still being discovered outside the city as recently as 2002.

World War II took a particularly heavy toll on Leningrad. For nine hundred days the Germans laid siege to the city, and there were anywhere from 700,000 to more than 1 million civilian deaths from attack and starvation. Although the Nazis never entered the city proper, they looted and burned many of the palaces in the environs, including Peterhof and the Catherine Palace.

During the post-Stalin era Leningrad was an important economic and intellectual center, though still trailing Moscow. Aside from Kirov, one of Leningrad's best-known political leaders was the rather ironically named Grigory Romanov. As first secretary of the Leningrad Oblast Party Committee from 1970 to 1983, Romanov encouraged production and scientific associations, as well as links among such groups to innovate and implement new technologies. As a result, Leningrad achieved enviable production levels. Romanov also made use of the city's extensive scientific establishment, linking the research and production sectors to improve production.

the post-soviet era

Although Romanov eschewed Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms, other Leningrad leaders embraced the changes. Anatoly Sobchak was elected to the first USSR Congress of People's Deputies in 1989 and in 1991 became the city's first elected mayor. A major figure in Russia's democratic movement, Sobchak oversaw a difficult transition in his city. His resistance to the hardline August 1991 putsch was critical to its defeat. Following the coup's collapse, Sobchak immediately renamed the city St. Petersburg. As the city's economy suffered under the national shift to capitalism, St. Petersburg experienced a severe rise in organized crime. Sobchak was unable to eradicate corruption, and in 1996 lost his bid for reelection to Vladmir Yakovlev.

St. Petersburg is the cultural capital of Russia. Among its most famous residents were the painters Marc Chagall and Ilya Repin; the writers Nikolai Gogol, Alexander Pushkin, Anna Akhmatova, and Fyodor Dostoevsky; the composers Peter Tchaikovsky and Dmitry Shoshtakovich; and the choreographers Marius Petipa and Sergei Diaghilev. Among its many art galleries, the Hermitage, the Russian Museum, and the Stieglitz boast collections unparalleled in the world. St. Petersburg is the home of the renowned Mariinsky ballet company (known as the Kirov in Soviet times). Shostakovich named his Seventh Symphony Leningrad. Falconet's Bronze Horseman sculpture of Peter the Great, located in Decembrist Square, was commissioned by Catherine the Great and immortalized by Pushkin in a poem of the same name. Many palaces and Orthodox churches have been restored, including the Romanovs' Winter Palace, St. Isaac's Cathedral, and the Kazan Cathedral. On the north bank of the Neva, the Peter and Paul Fortress has a long history as both a prison and, in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, the burial site of all the Romanov tsars from Peter I to Nicholas II.

St. Petersburg had begun to recapture some its lost splendor by 2003. UNESCO designated the city a World Heritage site. Extensive renovation, funded in part by a $31 million loan from the World Bank, took place in preparation for the city's tercentennial celebration in May 2003. Partly contributing to the city's renaissance was the fact that President Vladimir Putin was born in St. Petersburg. In addition to promoting the tercentennial commemoration, Putin oversaw the renovation of the Peterhof Palace into a world-class conference center. There was also talk of creating a presidential residence in St. Petersburg and even some sentiment to move the capital from Moscow. Whether or not St. Petersburg regains the political eminence of a century ago, it remains a vibrant, culturally rich European city, much as Peter envisioned.

See also: academy of arts; admiralty; bloody sunday; catherine ii; decembrist movement and rebellion; elizabeth; museum, hermitage; peter i; peter and paul fortress; winter palace

bibliography

Glantz, David M. (2002). The Battle for Leningrad, 19411944. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press.

McAuley, Mary. (1991). Bread and Justice: State and Society in Petrograd, 19171922. New York: Oxford University Press.

McKean, Robert B. (1990). St. Petersburg between the Revolutions, June 1907February 1917. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Ruble, Blair A. (1989). Leningrad: Shaping a Soviet City. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Sablinsky, Walter. (1976). The Road to Bloody Sunday: Father Gapon and the St. Petersburg Massacre of 1905. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Salisbury, Harrison E. (1969). The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad. New York: Harper & Row.

Ann E. Robertson

Blair A. Ruble

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"St. Petersburg." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"St. Petersburg." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/st-petersburg-0

"St. Petersburg." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Retrieved June 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/st-petersburg-0

St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG

ST. PETERSBURG. Founded in 1703 and by 1712 already the capital of Russia, St. Petersburg existed in the mind of Peter the Great (ruled 16821725) and on the planning boards of his architects almost before construction began"the most abstract and intentional [or, 'premeditated'] city in the whole world," in the words of Dostoevsky (Notes from Underground, 1864). In contrast to Moscow, which grew organically over the centuries in concentric circles, St. Petersburg was planned from scratch (like Washington, D.C.) by west European architects who attempted to impose geometric street patterns on the swampy delta of the Neva River. Echoes of the city's planned origins are preserved in the not-so-romantic names of several north/south streets on Vasilii Island: Second/Third Line Street, Fourth/Fifth Line Street, and so forth (each of these streets was originally intended to be a canal, with a numbered line of houses on each side of the canal).

LOCATION

St. Petersburg is located far to the north, at about 60 degrees latitude, above the middle of Hudson's Bay in Canada and slightly above that of Juneau, Alaska. It is situated on the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea in the delta of the Neva River, which flows from Lake Ladoga forty-six miles to the east. Though short, the Neva carries a large volume of water (sixth largest in Europe) and its currents are strong. Winding through St. Petersburg, the Neva divides at the tip (strelka, or 'arrow point') of Vasilii Island, the Large Neva to the south, the Small Neva to the right. Some one hundred islands dot the delta. The largest, Vasilii Island, was originally envisioned as the future city center, but security and supply considerations prompted a shift to the left bank. The left bank itself is not "mainland": several rivulets, notably the Moika and the Fontanka, flowed through the area and were preserved as canals in the city center. Because the flat territory of the city is close to the level of the Gulf of Finland (only six feet above it at the western end of Vasilii Island), and because storms and tides sometimes combine to back up water in the entire delta, lowlying areas of the city periodically flood. In 1703, as Peter the Great was starting to build the city's fortress (a not unwise choice, given that the area belonged to Sweden at the time), a flood carried off construction materials. In 1777 a major flood destroyed buildings and some fifty fountains in the Summer Gardens. The gardens were restored, but not the fountains; the adjacent Fontanka River/Canal was named for the fountains. Snow lies on the ground some five months a year, and the river and nearby gulf typically freeze over for two to four months each year. Nevertheless, prevailing winds from the west over the Baltic have a slight moderating effect on the climate. There is no good building stone in the area. In the early eighteenth century, a stone levy was placed on carts and boats entering the city, each one required to bring in stone for building foundations. As in Venice, many buildings in eighteenth-century St. Petersburg were set on wooden pilings driven into the mud.

PETER THE GREAT'S MOTIVES

Why did Peter persist in building the city in this inhospitable location? He had first tried to gain access to the Black Sea in the south, but he failed militarily to hold a position there. In any case, the Neva and the Gulf of Finland promised more direct contact with the countries of northern Europe with which he wanted to communicate and trade. From his youthful experiences among foreigners in Moscow and his two trips to western Europe, Peter was enamored with the accomplishments of west Europeans in science, industry, military and naval technology and training, and political administration. Sea power and maritime commerce captured his attention, and he determined to gain access to the sea for Russia by establishing a port city like Amsterdam. Moscow, with its narrow winding streets of logs or mud, its buildings of wood that fueled the city's frequent fires, its traditional culture, was for Peterto use a modern termbackward and underdeveloped. "Sanktpiterburkh"as he named the city in a Germano-Dutch spellingwas his initial experiment in transforming Russia into a sea power and giving his new Russian Empire an impressive European capital. In the twenty-one-year-long Great Northern War (17001721), Peter defeated Sweden's army and naval forces and formally annexed territory on the Baltic.

ST. PETERSBURG IN 1725

The rapidity with which St. Petersburg was created is remarkable. As of 1703, when the city was founded, there was one Swedish fortress in the immediate area and a few modest fishing villages. By 1725, when Peter died, St. Petersburg had some forty thousand residents and over six thousand buildings. James Cracraft, in his authoritative study The Petrine Revolution in Russian Architecture, lists the reasons why the city was built up so quickly: the government commanded the resources of the entire nation to be devoted to the cause; conscripted and convict labor was used; foreign architects and artisans were imported; Russian students were trained in architecture and building in St. Petersburg and abroad; training and city planning were standardized and coordinated by newly established government offices; and factories were established for bricks and other building materials. The costs were high; thousands of laborers perished in the harsh conditions. While St. Petersburg acquired the epithet of "Venice of the north," it was also described as "built on bones."

ARCHITECTURE

For Peter, architectural style per se did not matter much, but he admired the sober practicality of north European restrained baroque, and he recognized that the Dutch use of brick as a construction material was appropriate for St. Petersburg. In any case, architecture was an integral part of the west European cultural package that he sought to implant in St. Petersburg (minus restraints on the ruler's authority). His chief architect, Domenico Trezzini, a Swiss-Italian, created most early structures: the Fortress of St. Petersburg (later called the Peter and Paul Fortress, after the name of its cathedral, which Trezzini also designed), the Summer Palace and Gardens, the Twelve Colleges government administrative building, the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, and others. Peter's daughter, Empress Elizabeth (ruled 17411762) and her favorite architect, Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli, added extravagant rococo concoctions (the Winter Palace, Smolnyi Convent, the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoe Selo). During Empress Catherine II the Great's reign (ruled 17621796), the city acquired numerous neoclassical ensembles designed by west Europeans, including the Hermitage Theater and State Bank by Quarenghi, the Marble Palace and Sliding Hill Pavilion at Oranienbaum by Rinaldi, the Cameron Gallery at Tsarskoe Selo and Great Palace at Pavlovsk by Charles Cameron. In addition, Russian architects, trained in west European neoclassical principles, made contributions, notably I. E. Starov, who built the Tauride Palace and rebuilt the Trinity Cathedral in the Alexander Nevsky Monastery.

Catherine's most famous contribution to the city is the equestrian statue of Peter the Great, designed by the Frenchman Étienne-Maurice Falconet, later called the "Bronze Horseman," after Pushkin's poem (1833) of that name. St. Petersburg symbolizes Russia's turn to Western culture, and, as such, is a historic rival of Moscow, which symbolizes traditional Muscovite culture.

See also Catherine II (Russia) ; Elizabeth (Russia) ; Moscow ; Northern Wars ; Peter I (Russia) ; Russia ; Sweden .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brumfield, William Craft. A History of Russian Architecture. Cambridge, U.K., 1993.

Cracraft, James E. The Petrine Revolution in Russian Architecture. Chicago, 1988.

Egorov, Iurii Alekseevich. The Architectural Planning of St. Petersburg. Translated by Eric Dluhosch. Athens, Ohio, 1969.

Hamilton, George Heard. The Art and Architecture of Russia. 3rd ed. London, 1983.

Shvidkovsky, Dmitri. St. Petersburg: Architecture of the Tsars. Translated from French by John Goodman. Photographs by Alexander Orloff. New York, 1996.

Jack Kollmann

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Saint Petersburg (city, Russia)

Saint Petersburg, formerly Leningrad, Rus. Sankt-Peterburg, city (1990 est. pop. 5,036,000), capital of the Leningrad region (although not administratively part of it) and the administrative center of the Northwest federal district, NW European Russia, at Neva Bay (the head of the Gulf of Finland) on both banks of the Neva River and on the islands of its delta. St. Petersburg's port is linked by deepwater canal with Kotlin Island, where the outer port and the Kronshtadt naval base are located.

Russia's second largest city and its former capital, St. Petersburg is a major seaport, rail junction, and industrial, cultural, and scientific center. Although the harbor is frozen for three or four months annually, icebreakers have prolonged the navigation season. The seaport is one of the world's largest, but it handles relatively little traffic because the volume of foreign trade for Russia is small. The river port, one of the most important in the country, stands at the end of two artificial waterways, the Volga-Baltic and the White Sea–Baltic. A series of canals within the city carries considerable cargo. Neva Bay is separated from the Gulf of Finland at Kotlin Island by a 15.8-mi (25.4-km) flood-control dam (completed 2011) that allows for closing the navigation channels to prevent the flooding of the city; the causeways, bridges, and a tunnel built in conjunction with the dam form part of the city's ring road. St. Petersburg's diverse industries include shipbuilding, metallurgy, oil refining, printing, woodworking, food and tobacco processing, and the manufacture of machinery, electrical equipment, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, and textiles.

Points of Interest

The city's main thoroughfare is the celebrated Nevsky Prospekt. On it are the high-spired admiralty building; the Winter Palace, built by Rastrelli; the Hermitage museum; and the Kazan Cathedral. Nearby on Senate (formerly Decembrists) Square are the huge domed Cathedral of St. Isaac (1858); Russia's Constitutional Court, in the Senate and Synod buildings; and the equestrian statue of Peter the Great, Falconet's masterpiece and the subject of Pushkin's poem "The Bronze Horsemen." The city's oldest building is the fortress of Peter and Paul (1703), which served as a political prison in imperial days. Among the baroque buildings of the early 18th cent. are the Alexander Nevsky monastery (1710), the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (1733), the Winter Palace (1762), and the Smolny convent (1764). Neoclassical buildings of the late 18th and early 19th cent. include the Academy of Arts (1772), the Marble Palace (1785), the Taurida Palace (1788), the Kazan Cathedral (1811), and the Exchange (1816). Among the city's educational institutions are the St. Petersburg State Univ. (est. 1804) and the St. Petersburg State Univ. of Economics and Finance. There are numerous theaters, museums, scientific and medical institutes, and libraries, including the 18th-century Maryinsky Theater (including a new ballet and opera house, opened 2013), the Saltykov-Shchedrin Public Library (1795) and the Academy of Sciences library. Outside the city are Pushkin, with the summer palaces of Catherine II and Alexander I, and the former imperial residences of Peterhof and Gatchina. A striking phenomenon of St. Petersburg is the prolonged twilight, or the "white nights," of June and July.

History

The city was built by Peter I (Peter the Great), who sought an outlet to the sea and a port for trade through the Baltic. It was built in 1703 in what was then Ingermanland, an area conquered from Sweden during the Northern War. The fortress of Peter and Paul was erected to defend the projected new capital, which was to be a modern city and a "window looking on Europe." Construction was carried out at tremendous human and material cost. The capital was moved from Moscow in 1712, although the land on which the city stood was not formally ceded to Russia until 1721. Italian and French architects planned the city, giving it the spacious, classical beauty that it has retained.

St. Petersburg soon replaced Arkhangelsk as Russia's leading seaport and became an important commercial center. From the second half of the 18th cent., it was also the country's principal industrial center, at first for shipbuilding and engineering and later for textiles. In 1851, a rail link with Moscow was completed. One of the world's most brilliant capitals and cultural centers, St. Petersburg was immortalized in the novels of Pushkin, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy. Its apex as an international center of literature, music, theater, and ballet and as the scene of lavish and reckless social life was reached in the late 19th and early 20th cent.

Under the surface, however, the seeds of social upheaval ripened, especially among industrial workers. Secret revolutionary societies arose, and an attempt by city workers to petition the czar precipitated a revolution in 1905. The city was renamed Petrograd in 1914. The workers, soldiers, and sailors of Petrograd also spearheaded the revolutions of Feb. and Oct., 1917. Although it lost much of its former glamour, the city remained the economic and cultural rival of Moscow, which replaced it as capital in 1918. Petrograd was renamed Leningrad in 1924. During World War II, the city was cut off from the rest of the USSR by the fall of Schlüsselburg (now Petrokrepost) to the Germans (Aug., 1941). It was besieged for over two years, during which many hundreds of thousands died of famine and disease. The city's original name was restored in 1991. In the 1990s, the city struggled to convert its heavily military-related industries to civilian purposes.

See K. Clark, Petersburg: Crucible of Cultural Revolution (1998); W. B. Lincoln, Sunlight at Midnight: St. Petersburg and the Rise of Modern Russia (2001); D. M. Glantz, The Battle for Leningrad, 1941–1944 (2002); A. Reid, Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941–1944 (2011).

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Leningrad

Leningrad between 1924 and 1991, the name given to St Petersburg in honour of Vladimir Ilich Lenin (1870–1924), the principal figure in the Russian Revolution and first Premier of the Soviet Union 1918–24.

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Leningrad

Leningrad: see Saint Petersburg, Russia.

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Leningrad

Leningrad Former name for St Petersburg

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Leningrad

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