Grigori Chudakov, Olga Suslova, and Lilya Ukhtomskaya, eds.: Pioneers of Soviet photography. New York: Thames and Hudson. 1983.

The First Moscow Metro Riders. Grigori Chudakov, Olga Suslova, and Lilya Ukhtomskaya, eds.: Pioneers of Soviet photography. New York: Thames and Hudson. 1983.

The Moscow Metro was one of the Soviet Union’s greatest accomplishments. To the Soviets, the completion of the Metro was a symbol of exactly what they could do. The Moscow Metro was and still is one of the most beautiful metro’s in the world. Building the metro was not the challenge for the Soviets. The challenge was convincing the people it was a good thing. But, if there is one thing the Soviet government was good at, it was propaganda.

Since Russia was so far behind the West in industrialization, the concept of a somewhat forward thinking machine was foreign to the citizens of Moscow. In fact, there was an article in the New York Times in June of 1935, the same year the Moscow Metro opened, about how the people of Moscow reacted the metro. The author of the article states that the Moscow Metro is a , “…test of whether the Russians are adaptable to the machine age…” (Denny). The government knew that this massive and difficult undertaking would fail if the people of the city did not use it or like it.

This is where the government’s propaganda came in. The government started early by making heroes out of the metro builders. There was even a movie called Volunteers made to memorialize the metro builders (“The Moscow Metro”). After tunneling was complete, the Party and the Leauge of Young Communists sent out a plea for workers across the country and workers flocked to the city (Denny). The workers were then divided into brigades (Denny). The brigades were then set against each other in competition resulting in, “…American college spirit raised to the nth power”(Denny). The sense of competiton among the workers led to, what the Soviets claimed, world record completion of a metro (Denny). Also, for a bit, voulenteer work was utilized in construction (Denny). Citizens of Moscow would come in on “free days” and do extra work on the metro (Denny). However, this was short lived as the voulenteer workers undermined the work of skilled laborers (Denny). However, this gave the citizens of Moscow a feeling of pride as they could say they helped build the metro (Denny).

 Artemii Lebedev: Moscow Metro. 1996.

Detail from Kiev Station, Moscow. Lebedev: Moscow Metro. 1996.

Upon completion, the Moscow Metro was considered the most beautiful in the world. It was, surpisingly the most clean metro in the world as well. The Moscow Metro was a showpiece for the Soviet Government (“The Moscow Metro”). Not only was it a feat of engineering, but also a place of beauty. In fact, the underground stations were soon deemed “Underground Palaces” (“The Moscow Metro”). Before the opening of the Metro, the Soviets made sure they had everything close to perfection. They rain empty trains months before the opening so that the train drivers could be trained and the engineers could  work out any kinks (Denny). Workers were also hired to maintain strict control of the crowds in the underground stations (Denny). These workers also kept the metro”…as clean as the day it was open…” (Denny).

Opened in 1935, the Moscow Metro has not changed much from that year. New stations have been added with the same care for detail as the orginal stations. The Moscow Metro is still a pride of the city. Each station has its own theme and is decorated with variations of stain glass and different metals. The Moscow Metro is still extremely clean. Also, a someone who has been in several different metro and subway systems around the world, the Moscow Metro is defanately my favorite. So, thank you Soviets for making travel around Moscow not only easy but beautiful at the same time.

Map of the Moscow Metro Today

Map of the Moscow Metro Today

 

MOSCOW FINDS SYMBOLS IN ITS SUBWAY: The New Metro, Quickly Built …By HAROLD DENNYMOSCOW.New York Times (1923-Current file); Jun 16, 1935;ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2009) pg. SM7

“The Moscow Metro”: http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1934metro&Year=1934