This vintage photo
was taken c1903, in the days before the street was covered
with a web of overhead cables for the trams and trolleybuses. The
trams are long gone from the city's main street but the 'web'
This image is particularly
interesting because it shows on the extreme right, the old building
number 68. On November 28th 1941, this building received a direct
hit from a Nazi bomb and was so badly damaged the Nevsky facade had to be demolished.
From 1874 until 1918 this was a high school and the city gymnasium
No 12. Then in Soviet times the building was taken by the local
government offices. It became the District Council’s Executive
Committee and it stayed as the seat of the local Soviet government
until the German bomb blitzed it.
It took about three
years from 1947 to 1950 for Soviet architects N. Zhuravlev and
I. I. Thomin to design and complete a new Nevsky facing facade.
The demolition job was so thorough that instead of restoring the
building the authorities just built a new structure after the war.
The end result was an unobtrusive, tactful Stalinist structure that fits
well in its surroundings and creates no dissonance in the company
of the historic buildings it found itself amongst
is a continuation of the old neoclassicism, and classicism
before that, with aesthetic values going back to Greece
and Rome. But it has its own peculiarities. Instead of allegorical
figures of gods and goddesses, this architecture displays
Soviet symbols (most of them like the star originally Jewish
or Masonic) and figures of workers, farmers, and the like,
which give those buildings a distinctly outlandish, even
comical appearance. To an art aware contemporary they must
have appeared bizarre but time is the greatest cure and
those building no longer look odd, there’s a great
deal of charm about them.
In the history of St.
Petersburg this address is unofficially known as the Literary
House or Literature House because of its rich literary heritage.
V. N. Asenkova, the legendary Alexandrian Theatre’s actress
lived here in 1837. A. A. Kraevsky, a journalist and publisher
of Otecestvennye Zapiski (or Fatherland Notes) and of Literaturnaya
Gazeta or Literary Newspaper, had an apartment in the building
and worked here from 1830 until 1843. Literaturnaya Gazeta is
still around and is one of oldest surviving names among Russian
periodicals. From 1842 until 1846 Vissarion Belinsky, a writer
and literary critic also lived at this address and freelanced
for the Otecestvennye Zapiski in the same building. His apartment
was a literary salon of sorts and Nikolai Nekrasov, I. Goncharov,
Alexander Herzen, D. V. Grigorovich and Fyodor Dostoyevsky were
frequent visitors. Here Belinsky met Dostoyevsky for the first
time and supposedly told the young author that a great future
awaits him. Ivan Turgenev lived here from 1850 until 1851.
a Bolshevik newspaper was published here in 1905. The first meeting
of Vladimir Lenin and Alexeï Gorki took place at this address
in the Bolshevist newspaper’s editorial office.
At the turn of the
century one of the inner buildings held offices of Stroitel or
Builder, a company that specialized in manufacture of construction
materials and cement. In the inner courtyard was an exhibition
space where regular shows were held. The first exhibition of Futurists
took place at this address. A fashionable cinema Folies-Bergère
was also located here before the First World War as well as I.
D. Sytin’s bookstore.
The Nevsky facing (Stalinist)
building is now the “home” of the Leningrad District
Tax Inspectorate, whilst side and inner buildings have several
retail establishments, offices and apartments.
That last entry can now be consigned to the archives of history as
the 19th-century Literary House at 68 Nevsky Prospekt was demolished
in February 2011 because the city's planning office decided that Spb really
needed a new modern hotel at this precise location.
The Anichkov Bridge
(Anichkov Most), was the first and most famous bridge across the
Fontanka River in St. Petersburg. The current bridge, built in
1841-42 and reconstructed in 1906-08, combines a simple form with
some spectacular decorations. As well as its four famous horse
sculptures designed by the Russian sculptor, Baron Peter Klodt
(1849-50), the bridge has some of the most celebrated ornate iron
railings in the city. The structure is mentioned in the works
of Pushkin, Gogol, and Dostoevsky.
In 1941, during the
Second World War, when the bridge came under heavy fire from German
artillery, the sculptures were removed from their platforms and
buried in the nearby Anichkov Palace garden. The bridge suffered
serious damage during the war, but was fully restored shortly
after the war ended. As a memorial, the pedestal of one of the
statues retains the effects of artillery fire, with a plaque explaining
this to passers-by. Prior to the tercentenary of Saint Petersburg,
the statues were removed from the bridge again and underwent thorough
restoration. This was the third restoration of Klodt’s horses:
the first was before the First World War, and the second in the
mid-1970s but on this last occasion restorers were surprised to
find secret trap-doors on the back of each horse. The restorers
not only saved the sculptures but also conserved them for the
future. St. Petersburg scientists, in collaboration with a group
of experienced restorers, were the first to use a new method of
making a protective and decorative covering for monuments. With
the aid of the latest technologies they applied an unnoticeable
layer on to the bronze compositions, very similar in its properties
to natural patina, which will serve as a long durable protection
for the monuments.