Modern Marvels: Moscow Subway

Every great city on Earth is known for having a public transportation system that allows its citizens to move about more freely in the city and to get from one place to another without causing a great deal of congestion. Some cities were able to plan and execute their ideas for public transportation well, while others are known for how bad it is to try and take a bus or metro to get to their destination. In 1934, Stalin felt as though Moscow needed to join the ranks of cities like London and Paris and build a subway system, after the surface rail car system was completed.

Devoting many resources to the transportation project allowed Stalin to make sure that the best possible job would be done. Nikita Khrushchev and Lazar Kaganovich were two planners who had to stake their reputations on the success or failure of the ambitious project. Beginning their planning by first examining the models of other successful projects, they planned on building the metro the way Germany did; open pit style. This was much more efficient but did not allow the metro as much mobility as they had wanted, and also prevented them from going under buildings because they were limited to existing roads, which further congested the city during construction as entire motorways would be unavailable. Realizing this, they opted for the British style, which meant going deep underground, but allowed the much more flexibility, as well as the fact that the city was not deadlocked during the construction as the roads would remain open. Once completed, the subways were an architectural masterpiece, ornately decorated and resembling palaces. They were also very efficient at getting their job done, and therefore are known for being a modern marvel.

In terms of the political, cultural, social, and economic impacts that the subway had, there are many. Economically speaking, this allowed the city’s workers to travel faster from their home to their job, which meant they could spend more time working, much to the state’s delight, Im sure. People were also much more connected to one another, more than ever before, providing both a social and cultural benefit, as society could intermingle much more deeply by allowing those citizens without their own transportation a means of getting from one end of the city to the other in a very short amount of time. In terms of political impacts, this project was extremely ambitious. Being a resounding success meant that the government could flaunt the project as another product of the communist regime, and a victory of the workers. It also provided a means of shelter during the coming World War, another unseen benefit. Overall, the project meant great things for Moscow and its people, as well as the government.

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A fine example of some of the decorations inside many of the metro stations

 

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What the city must have looked like during the open pit style of construction for the metro. Note how much of the road is taken up by the construction; no small wonder that entire sections of the city would be cut off during the construction.

 

Sources:

http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1934metro&Year=1934

http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&show=images&SubjectID=1934metro&Year=1934&navi=byYear