Part of the 1960’s in the Soviet Union was characterized by a state-wide movement to increase the number of citizens working in the factories so that the industrial numbers of the Soviet Union continued to grow. In order to facilitate this desire the Soviet government began building large cities to house all of the new citizens entering the area.
The city of Togliatti, located on the Volga River, was the home of the Volga Automobile Factory, one of the largest factories within the Soviet Union, and also over 150,000 citizens. The city had enough housing to accommodate over a quarter-million citizens and the buildings were large, high-rise apartment buildings that were built very quickly (with “heroic intensity” and was meant to be the ideal “Socialist” city with the principles of communal living as the building blocks.
According to the Soviet government, Togliatti was the home of broad streets and squares, bright, multi-storied houses, schools, movie theatres and anything else that a Soviet citizen could want or need. Along with this description, the government hailed it as a major cultural and research center and a home of roughly 2,000 students.
While the Soviet government praised the city, the locals did not speak so fondly of it. One citizen, Mikhail Shatrov spoke about Togliatti, saying “Don’t think we have everything in order here…what’s there to do in the evenings?…not a single movie theater or Palace of Culture. There’s no place to go!”.
The issue with the city was the citizens would spend eight hours a day working in a modern factory with many amenities, but as soon as they left they would be in an over-crowded and low quality city with no means of enjoyment. Because of this, the citizens felt that their only purpose of living was work, certainly not what they had in mind when they moved to the new “super cities”.
This is an example of what can happen when a top-level leader gets so wrapped in production that they forget about the people actually doing the work. Togliatti was a good city in the sense that its factories were up-to-date, but without a happy work force, there is only so much production that can be pulled from the city.