The Toils of Tol’iatti

The cities that sprang into existence in the 1960’s were unlike any Soviet cities that had come before. The city of Tol’iatti was transformed during the 60’s through industrialization. Prior to the transformation, Tol’iatti was known as Stavropol. It was renamed after the Italian Communist Party leader Palmiro Togliatti. The city’s revolution started with the creation of the Kuibyshev Hydroelectric Station that generated huge amounts of electricity for the increased industrial production. Following that, the Volga Automobile Factory was established in 1966. The creation of the factory also introduced a new section of the city. This Avtograd (auto town) was completely comprised of auto workers and their families.

A map of Tol'iatti after the creation of the new housing districts
A map of Tol’iatti after the creation of the new housing districts

The population of the city was incredibly young. The average age of the city’s inhabitants in the 1970’s was 26 years old, the youngest in all of the USSR. The young tenants of the city also engaged in many acts of “hooliganism”. The city became famous as a ‘crime capital’ due to the amount of crimes reported.

In addition to the high amount of crime, Tol’iatti was often thought of as a cold and heartless city. The city was constructed with what was thought of as “heroic intensity”. In all actuality however, the large and booming housing structures were thought of as depriving the city of an atmosphere of warmth.

The city of Tol'iatti in 1975
The city of Tol’iatti in 1975

The construction of the city also encountered many problems according to an article from The Current Digest of the Soviet Press. As of January 22, 1969, only 29,000 square meters of housing space had been constructed. However, 137,700 square meters should have been constructed. The housing feat was so large that there was not enough manpower to build the towering city. However, the city still grew astronomically as a result of the industrialization that was brought to the city.

Works Cited:

To’liatti Picture: Flicker, 2010.

Map of To’liatti:

Bolshakov, V., Vorobyev, A. On the Construction of the Volga Automobile Plan: Changing Horses in Midstream- Why Plans for the Opening of Housing for Tenancy in the New Borough of Togliatti are being Disrupted. 22 January 1969. Current Digest of the Russian Press, Pages 32-33.

3 thoughts on “The Toils of Tol’iatti

  1. Good post! I like that you touched on how the city was too large for the man power to build it. I also like that you mentioned the “heroic intensity” with which the structures were built because that same “intensity” led to shoddy materials being used in the buildings that led to the citizens dissatisfaction with their conditions.

  2. The average age of the inhabitants made me think about the generational gap between the baby boomers and their parents. The parents grew up during the two world wars and experienced times of hardship and depravity. However, the 26-year-olds were born during or right after the war, therefore they were a part of a revolution which brought about a completely different Soviet era Russia. If these were the same people who became stilyagas by following western trends, it’s very interesting that they were associated with “hooliganism.” It’s hard to separate these two facts and to think that the new generation were “troublemakers” of sorts.

  3. I really like the inclusion of the picture of the town. It almost looks like a military base we might find here in the US, which is obviously in sharp contrast to the type of behavior its inhabitants engaged in. I’m curious as to why the city harvested such a culture of rebelliousness when compared to the rest of Russia.

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