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GGR216 Chp 6 and 9.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Jason Hackworth

Cities of Russia General Introduction - The current landscape of Russia is characterized by ornate tsarist-era buildings and monuments (palaces, churches, museums) with the utilitarian, concrete-and- steel structures of the Soviet era - Multicultural settlements eventually grew into towns and cities during the Tsarist Russian Empire - Commercial retailers, private transportation, and new housing construction have altered Russian social and cultural urban landscapes (Post-Soviet) - In the post-Soviet period, capitalist notions of efficiency have made such cities’ locations and industrial operations unprofitable, resulting in economic decline and population outflow - Early post-soviet period exposed many cities to increasing poverty, economic collapse, and restructuring. The Pre-Soviet Period: birth of the urban system - Historical settlement patterns have depended on access to water, transportation, and the location of military and economic outposts - The growing city of Moscow dominated this new region of settlement, cultural and economic growth in new direction (western euro) - Theologians envisioned Moscow as the “Third Rome” by building a new Russian empire firmly rooted in Christian missionary traditions with expansionist intentions - Tsar Peter the Great founded St. Petersburg in 1703 for economic and security reasons, to be a showcase naval and commercial port with crucial access to maritime routes “window on the west” - Therefore, urbanization focused on the west, physically and culturally The Soviet Period: new urban patterns - After the Russian Revolution (1917), Communist Party took steps to consolidate its political power and reshape the economy - This leadership moved the capital from St. Petersburg to Moscow - Communists focused on the East within the empire - Soviet doctrine privileged urban life over rural life as the proper environment for communist individuals - Urbanization was seen as necessary to create an industrialized working class that would embrace communist ideals - More than half of the population lived in urban places by 1979 - The government prioritized national over local needs; therefore, cities had little influence over local economic development, urban growth, and interal city structure - Private properties were abolished, creating kommunalka (communal apartments) during the era of urban industrialization (automobiles, natural resource) - After the WW2, military industrial complex (MIC) arose - Contradicting policy such as propiska (legal permission to live in a specific city) arose on limiting the population growth. Loopholes were to marry someone who has propiska in the city or find a job, which the employer secured a propiska Urban and regional planning under the soviet system - Cities consisted socialist ideas and urban planning included adopting urban growth boundaries in order to constrain city sizes, distributing consumer and cultural goods and services equitably to the population as a whole. (Minimize travel distances to work) - Within cities of soviet, basic building blocks known as “microrayon” was constructed to minimize journeys to work. Microrayon included units of high-rise apartment buildings, stores, and schools and became the soviet norm. - General plans were so detailed that a milk store could not built legally on a site designated for a bread store. Last soviet period: the beginning of change - Noticeable urban restructuring preceded the final economic and political collapse of the soviet system in 1991. - Phenomenon of “disappearing cities” revealed with a pattern of manufacturing and industrial decline - Towns in European Russia lost many people, more than half of these towns were in the industrial core region around Moscow and St. Petersburg - Shrinking towns revealed the impact of economic restructuring on the urban system - Mining towns and MICs became ghost towns - Soviet had secret cities that never appeared on maps with the estimating number of 40 Contemporary Russia: reconfiguring the urban system - In the post-soviet period (1992-present) heavy industry was especially hard hit by the reintroduction of market forces and the reorientation of the economy towards a consumer oriented capitalist market. - Economic restructuring away from manufacturing to increased extraction of raw resource and export means that cities dependent on manufacturing struggle to cope with high unemployment rates and few opportunities for new economic development. - The introduction of market forces in cities located in harsh and inaccessible places caused rapid increases in costs for energy and transportation, food, housing, and industrial production - Some cities are clearly thriving in the transition to a market economy, but those whose geographic locations are not conducive to taking part in transformation are struggling - A growing trend in suburbanization and new housing has developed outside city limits Contemporary Russia: Changing urban structure
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