The Marvelous Metro

Walking into any of the Moscow metro stations today, as shown in these pictures, you’re stepping into a place that could be described as an underground art gallery. From intricate arches to massive murals, these metro stations are worlds different than the DC metro that a majority of us are more accustomed to. However, these metro stations have come a long was since the first part of the Moscow metro was completed in 1935. During the initial stages of the metro development, Soviet leaders took note of railroads that were currently being developed in countries such as London and Germany. In fact, when the metro was first being developed, Stalin brought in engineers that had worked in London to build their metro system. However, as the metro plans truly began to unfold, “Stalin worried that they were learning too much about they layout of the city, so he had them tried for spying and deported [them]” (NPR).

This close attention to others mistakes and successes was extremely important to the Soviet leaders due to the massive amount of resources that were going into this project; which resulted in the public following along with the project as well. Thus, when the metro ultimately became a success, it showed “how effectively the socialist state could mobilize itself for great projects,” something which reflected well on the party leaders (von Geldern, The Moscow Metro). This can be seen in the image displayed above, which states, “We have a Metro! Long live our great Stalin. There is no fortress that Bolsheviks cannot take – Stalin” (Lebedev, Moscow Metro). This shows how closely related the success of the metro was related to Stalin’s government.

If you look at this video, entitled Moscow Metro (1935),  you can see just how lavish the metro stations were from the start. However, these metro stations were so much more than just a pretty place to sit while you waited for the cars to arrive, they served a variety of different purposes. One of these purposes being to act as a bomb shelter during the Second World War. In the station pictured here, “Stalin made a speech in the station in November 1941 to celebrate the 24th anniversary of Bolshevik revolution, as the Nazis bombarded the city above” (The Guardian). Another, vastly different, purpose was connecting people from different parts of the area. This allowed for anything from people being able to move go further for work, or giving “young people [a] place to meet and fall in love” (von Geldern, The Moscow Metro). All these things, in combination with the immense amount of work and detail that was put into the creation of the metro, shows just how big of an impact it had on Soviet society. Between giving insight to the culture of this time period, to starting the transition for a more modern society, the metro is a very significant part of the past and the present.

Works Cited

Artemii Lebedev, “Moscow Metro,” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, (Soviet History MSU, 1996), available at: http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1934-2/the-moscow-metro/the-moscow-metro-images/#bwg75/526

Becky Pemberton, “The Dream Commute? Forget Dirty Tube Stations, Moscow’s Stunning Underground Network Looks Like Spectacular Palaces,” Daily Mail, (Daily Mail UK, 2015), available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3293287/The-dream-commute-Forget-cramped-dirty-subway-stations-STUNNING-underground-metro-networks-Moscow-look-like-spectacular-palaces-no-tacky-adverts.html

Corey Flintoff, “Glory of Moscow’s 80-Year-Old Subway Tainted by Stalin Connections,” National Public Radio, (NPR, 2015), available at: http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/06/02/410487989/glory-of-moscows-80-year-old-subway-tainted-by-stalin-connections

James von Geldern, “The Moscow Metro,” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, (Soviet History MSU), available at: http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1934-2/the-moscow-metro/

Nick Van Mead, “Celebrate the Moscow Metro’s 80th Birthday with a Journey Throughout the City’s History- in Pictures,” The Guardian, (The Guardian, 2015), available at: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/gallery/2015/may/14/moscow-metro-80-anniversary-city-history-in-pictures

Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, “Moscow Metro (1935),” available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EMZsaEJoCE

 

red star This post earned a “red star” award from the editorial team.

 

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7 thoughts on “The Marvelous Metro

  1. I enjoyed the comparison between the DC Metro and the Soviet Metro. I think that the rapid mechanization of society under Stalin definitely helped achieve the “successes” of what can be seen as a modernization and propaganda project.

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    1. I developed my mass transportation legs on the Moscow Metro, and even after all these years, I get a bit of culture shock when I go to DC. The trains are so much smaller and slower. Just a different scale entirely.

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  2. Stalin’s desire to appeal to Western engineers but also to outshine the metros of England and Germany is fascinating. I like that you highlighted the multiple purposes the metro served beyond transportation such as a WWII bomb shelter and a beacon of Soviet art and architecture. You also included an excellent list of sources, specifically the Moscow Metro video!

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  3. Great post. I think there’s another post on the same topic. The video really helped me conceptualize the whole project. Metro’s really were a work of art and pride for the Russians, as well as a useful bomb shelter

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  4. I like your primary sources and your comparison between the utilitarianism of the DC metro vs the Moscow metro. It really shows what a big deal it was to the Soviet government that they would spend so much money on extravagant station designs.

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  5. I enjoyed reading your post as I too wrote about the Moscow Metro. The link to the pictures you added was great, I knew their stations were well built and detailed but I had not seen just how marvelous they were. Interesting fact that Stalin had the English engineers tried for spying and deported, sounds a lot like something Putin would do.
    P.S. typo in the third sentence, I believe you wanted to say “come a long way” instead of “come a long was”

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