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Опубликовано в библиотеке: 2021-08-31
Источник: Science in Russia, №6, 2010, C.82-89

by Olga VIKTOROVA, journalist


The logo of the Moscow rapid transit railway, which marked its 75th anniversary in May 2010, is made in the form of a laughing sun with its many-colored rays directed towards all sides (authors, Andrei Belonogov and Yana Kutyina). It represents a radial-circular structure of the underground railway, which repeats the historically formed city planning. In the year of the jubilee of the most popular means of transport in our capital, the second in the world (after Tokyo) in utilized capacity and the first in intensity, volume and reliability of transportation and artistic design, we shall visit the People's Museum, which displays materials related to its history.


This unusual cultural and educational institution, located in the building of the southern lobby of Sportivnaya metro station, was founded in 1967 on the initiative of veterans of the Moscow metro. At first the museum displayed mainly documents, but over the years its exhibits became more diversified. Today we can learn here a lot about the formation and development of the first underground railway in the country, its people and equipment, providing comfortable conditions for passengers, as well as see active models of the engine-driver's cabin, turn-

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stiles, traffic lights, different control panels, etc., and a small escalator model right at the entrance.


London pioneered the introduction of "the offstreet railway" in 1863. This initiative was quickly taken up by Berlin and New York, and in 1875 the first national proposal was put forward to construct it in Moscow from the Kursk railway station via Lubyanskaya and Pushkinskaya squares to Maryina Roshcha. Other ideas, such as to connect all city's railway stations by an annular underground route or to lay diametric lines of underground railway through its center were discussed too. The project designed to connect Zamoskvorechye with Tverskaya Zastava was most sensational (a special show-case is devoted to this project in the museum) and was submitted to the city council in 1902 by engineers Pyotr Balinsky and Yevgeny Knorre, but was declined unanimously "due to the absence of finances" and protests of the Archeological Society and the clergy.


In 1912, a new idea was put forward by a business group, intending to undertake all construction expenses. In the place of the present Moskva Hotel they planned to construct a giant central railway station connecting it by tunnels with Kursky and Nikolaevsky (today Leningradsky) railway stations and later on with other Moscow railway stations. The city council studied all proposals and prepared its own plan in 1913–to construct three underground diametral main lines connected with the railways. However, its implementation was hindered by World War I of 1914-1918 and revolutionary developments of 1917.


In the second half of the 1920s, the problem of passenger traffic in the capital became critical. In 1925-1930, specialists of the Department of Moscow municipal economy worked out a project of underground transport envisaging four diametral and one annular lines with a total length of about 50 km. It was taken as a basis for a decision adopted by the country leadership in 1931: "To immediately start preparatory works for the construction of a metropolitan railway..." as a main way out of the existing situation.


Meanwhile, the carriage-building works (today ZAO Metrovagonmash) was operating in Mytishchi, Moscow Region, since 1896. It was founded mainly due to the efforts of an energetic entrepreneur and well-known patron Savva Mamontov. This enterprise equipped with the most sophisticated machinery of that time produced and repaired the rolling stock for the city "horse tramway", trams and railways, and from 1926 also for the first electrified railways Baku-Sabunchi in Azerbaijan (opened in 1926) and Moscow-Mytishchi (1929).


All the aforesaid served as "a starting site" for the transition of the works to a brand new level, i.e. equipping of the metropolitan railway (its construction started in 1932) with its products, which was intended to become the biggest transport system in the capital. A specially designed coach of the A series had a streamline form to reduce air resistance, its interior was decorated using fine finishing materials, such as flexible paper-base laminate (wall paper with fretwork imitation), linoleum and original lamps.


On the night of May 15, 1935, a good many people, who dreamt to go for a drive on an unusual transport, gathered at entrances to all 13 metro stations ready to receive passengers. At last the lobby doors opened, and at 7:00 a.m. the first train started on the route Sokolniki-Park Kultury (with a branch from Okhotny Ryad station to Smolenskaya its total length made up 11.2 km). Travel ticket No. 1 handed over by its owner is kept at the museum as an invaluable relic. Displayed here are photos, posters and main instruments of labor of the metro

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builders of the 1990s, such as a spade and a jack hammer, and also a piece of a rail. Show-cases made in the form of coach windows present newspaper cuttings describing the start of the underground railway operation and its traffic plans of different years.


It is probably difficult for us, who have long got used to the most reliable, all-weather and fastest means of transport, to understand the feelings of the people, who for the first time went down to underground palaces on that day. They faced the works of prominent national architects and designers*. Suffice it to mention the magnificent Krasnye Vorota station (Ivan Fomin et al., 1935) with its monumental red supports illuminated from above by blue light or Kropotkinskaya station (Alexei Dushkin and Yakov Likhtenberg, 1935) with its fan-shaped columns broadening upwards.


In 1937, the following lines were put into operation: Smolenskaya-Kievskaya, Ploshchad Revolyutsii-Kurskaya and in 1938 Ploshchad Sverdlova (today Teatralnaya)-Sokol. It must be emphasized that a majority of these stations are considered to be most beautiful in the Moscow metro even today. We must mention, first of all, the works by Alexei Dushkin: Mayakovskaya station with its elegant arches, finished with polished steel and a tesselated ceiling,



See: A. Firsova, "Art Deco in Russia", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2010.–Ed.

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and also Ploshchad Revolyutsii station with its 76 bronze sculptures (initially 80) made by Matvei Manizer.


Several kinds of marble, granite, ceramics, art fretwork, frescos, sculpture and bronze casting were used for decoration of wonderful constructions, which became a pride of the most popular transport means of the capital. The exposition section devoted to the metro architecture displays marble specimens from Armenia, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Altai and Ural, photos of elegant platform halls. Nearby displayed are diplomas received at the International Architectural Exhibition in Paris in 1937 by Nadezhda Bykova for decoration of the Sokolniki station and Alexei Dushkin for creation of Kropotkinskaya station.


Soon after, the Great Patriotic War of 1941 - 1945 came to our land. As the Germans advanced deep into our country in the summer of 1941, the government organized evacuation of a number of enterprises and export of valuables from Moscow, as well as dismantling of the metro equipment. But on July 22, the enemy made the first air raid on the capital and inflicted heavy damages. Worst hit were

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central workshops, a water-main near the Belorussky railway station and an overhead cover of the tunnel between Smolenskaya and Arbatskaya stations. Special equipment was used to pump out the water so that it could not get into the generator room of escalators and the tunnel with people hiding there during air raids. The metro workers managed successfully to help these people; they put deck chairs and folding beds for them on platforms and railtracks, stocked up with drinking water and organized medical posts.


The metro became a reliable shelter for population during the German bombardments. But as soon as the danger stepped back, the train traffic resumed. The metro workers organized sale of milk and white bread for children at the stations and provided regular work of escalators, very important for rapid transportation of thousands of Moscovites to shelters, carried out special control over ventilation, which affected the physical condition of people. Fire-prevention measures were a responsibility of people, who, like other metro workers, selflessly worked there.


On November 6, 1941, the workers of Mayakovskaya station brought furniture to the platform and set up a rostrum there with a red carpet leading to escalators. There in the evening of the same day a solemn meeting of the country leadership was held, and the head of the state Joseph Stalin made a speech. This event and also a military review of troops on the Red Square next morning inspired confidence in the enemy defeat into our countrymen and strongly impressed the whole world. In the middle of 1942, all metro equipment was restored to the design capacity, and the metro started functioning in full strength.


The exposition show-cases devoted to those hard years display photos of bomb-proof stations (including Mayakovskaya station crammed with folding beds and overcrowded with women and children), the switch VAB-2 made for the Moscow metro by Elektrosila works in Leningrad during its blockade in 1942 and delivered from the city along the Road of Life across the frozen Lake Ladoga.


The construction of the underground railway continued also during the war, what is more, at a higher technological* and artistic level than in the 1930s–the most striking specimens of the Soviet Empire style** were created at that time. For example, Elektrozavodskaya station (1944, architects Vladimir Shchuko, Vladimir Gelfreikh and Igor Rozhin): its platform hall is decorated with bas-reliefs devoted to the subject of labor (author, Georgi Motovilov), and the Metro Builders sculptural group (Matvei Manizer) is installed at the entrance.


After the end of the Great Patriotic War, the Koltsevaya line was put into operation and the existing radial lines were extended. The decor of underground palaces now reflected the spirit of triumph and steadfast faith in the might of the state, which had overthrown fascism. The theme of Victory and Military Glory is distinctly felt in the decoration of



See: F. Petrov, "I Have the Honor to Be a Prospector...", Science in Russia, No. 4, 2006.–Ed.

** See: A. Firsova, "The Empire Style in Soviet Architecture", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2010.–Ed.

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platform halls and vestibules of Oktyabrskaya-Koltsevaya station (architect, Leonid Polyakov, sculptor, Georgi Motovilov, 1950), Komsomolskaya-Koltsevaya station (Alexei Shchusev, 1952) and Arbatskaya station of Ar-batsko-Pokrovskaya line (Polyakov and coauthors, 1955).


Outstanding national painters took part in the decoration of vestibules and platform halls of the Moscow metro in the 1930s-1950s. Thus, Komsomolskaya station of Sokolni-cheskaya line was decorated using a majolica panel by Yevgeny Lansere devoted to labor achievements of young

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metro builders, and mosaic plafonds decorated with patriotic themes created by Pavel Korin were installed at the station of the same name on the Koltsevaya line. Korin's sketches were used in glass paintings on the pylons of Novoslobodskaya station (1952) designed by Alexei Dushkin et al., one of the most remarkable Moscow stations, and a wonderful mosaic frieze (a decorative belt under the vault) in the vestibule of Smolenskaya station of Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya line (architect, Igor Rozhin et al., 1953).


Running ahead we shall point out that among the most beautiful metro stations, passengers mention also several stations built in recent years, for instance, Sretensky Boulevard station (2007), where 24 panels decorate the pylons in the form of flat steel applications with silhouettes of trees, views of the Boulevard Ring, flowerpots, monuments, etc., fixed over marble plates (painter, Ivan Lubennikov). Slavyansky Boulevard station (2008) has an exquisite and singular appearance, where three benches in the form of a boat and slim metal "trees" with luminous lanterns atop are installed in the platform hall, and the walls are faced with green marble.


The rolling stock of the Moscow metro was constantly improved with account of national and foreign innovations. The models 81-717 and 81-714 mastered by the industry in the 1970s became an essential step forward, when there first appeared new different purpose coaches (without cabins, intermediate and head coaches), capacity of their driving motors became one and a half times higher as compared with the previous modifications, other technical characteristics became better too.


And now let's discuss novelties. According to specialists, Yauza coaches designed in recent years are very comfortable and spacious. These high-speed coaches are equipped with an on-board computer in the engine-driver's cabin, an automatic fire-extinguishing system and high-efficiency ventilation. The Rusich coaches carry passengers in a "light" (elevated) metro, which connects suburban residential districts with radial lines. Contrary to the conventional coaches they are of smaller size, have reduced noise level, a capable of passing crooked road sections with sharp turns, and operate both indoors and outdoors. The evolution of the Moscow metro rolling stock can be traced on the photos and models displayed on the stands.


It should be noted that the museum collection was gathered grain by grain. Its organizers attracted materials of the Department of Moscow Metropolitan, the stocks of the Archives of Cine-Photo Documents, the State Lenin Library (today the Russian State Library) and used equipment. You can find here once well-known turnstiles with an indicator board: "Make ready 5 kopeck coins" and a fragment of an engine-driver's cabin. Many exhibits were presented by individual persons. For example, a curious collection of tickets and tokens of different time and cities was formed with their participation.


The small lecture hall houses nicely decorated display show-cases, which tell visitors about cooperation of the Moscow metro with its colleagues from the CIS countries, Berlin, Paris, Budapest, Prague, etc. Since 2006, there are carried out video excursions, which acquaint people with the past of Moscow, its main public transport and its present, and which make possible a short journey to the underground railways of St. Petersburg and Minsk.

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© Olga VIKTOROVA () Источник: Science in Russia, №6, 2010, C.82-89

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