The Soviet Super Cities

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.

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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”Smilie: ;) and was meant to be the ideal “Socialist” city with the principles of communal living as the building blocks.

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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!”.

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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.

Sources:

http://dlib.eastview.com/searchresults/article.jsp?art=15&id=13649553

http://dlib.eastview.com/searchresults/article.jsp?art=0&id=13768705

http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1968cities&Year=1968&navi=byYear

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/View_of_3B_kvartal,_Togliatti,_Russia.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/23/71_kvartal,_Togliatti,_Russia.JPG

http://85.26.162.207/images/upload/Togliatti_i_carta_new_20082009.gif

 

 

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10 Responses to The Soviet Super Cities

  1. You used some great images in this post. I spoke about the plan and its role out by Khrushchev and how there was no real oversight in my blog this week. The hands off approach caused many problems in the building of these high raises. I liked how you focused on the super cities. A very nice post.

  2. This is interesting since there was so much emphasis placed upon housing but it was never up to par. The Soviet government certainly seemed to spend more time on making sure that the factories were in top condition than ensuring that the housing conditions were somewhat decent. I also liked the pictures that you used. Good post

  3. It seems to be a common theme among Khrushchev and the higher-ups to overlook important details in their many big ideas to get the USSR back on track. Your post highlights how they forgot to think about the aspects of life outside of work in their super cities. Then in agriculture they failed to recognize that their plan was going to ruin the soil after just a few years of overuse. Even the space program neglected to cultivate a replacement for Korolev which allowed the US to catch up and put a man on the moon first. Imagine how much more successful the Soviet Union could have been if they would have had just a little bit of forethought.

    • That’s very true. The Soviet Union’s programs had incredible potential but due to impulsive leadership they were never able to ensure longevity. This is why it is important for an important leader to have some ability of foresight to be able to view things in the long-term scope.

  4. The Soviet Super Cities of the 1960’s definitely seem to be an interesting topic. I like that you included the note that they were built with “heroic intensity”. That was a very Soviet way to spin the hasty way that these cities were built. That same heroic intensity was likely part of the problem stated in the above comment of the lack of details and oversight. I noticed that the average age of a citizen in Togliatti was 26, so it was important that you mentioned that lack of entertainment in the city. Maybe if the average age was much older, the lack of entertainment would have been less of an issue, but what person in their 20s wants to work and then sit at home all of the time. I also wonder if the age, and lack of entertainment had anything to do with the level of crime in the city then and now. Good post.

    • I agree with you, I think it is really interesting how the Soviets or other various regimes will spin certain things in ways to make them sound prestigious. Of course characterizing a construction process by its “heroic intensity” is going to sound good but without the true delivery of quality it means nothing.
      I think if they had more entertainment within the city I think that it would have flourished a lot more than it actually did. With such a young population base, if you made them happy, the future of the city would have been much brighter.

  5. I thought you had a interesting point about how the Soviet’s spun their history in a way that benefited them. Often times people in power seem to do this and overlook issues it’s citizens are enduring. Really enjoyed reading this.

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