The Soviet Face of Moscow

It had been over 200 years since Moscow had last been the Russian capital, and it had been almost totally destroyed during Napoleon’s occupation of the city in 1812.  Moscow, while still retaining some old beauty in the Kremlin and elsewhere, was ripe for reinvention.  The new capital would soon become the capital of the new Soviet Union and, as such, it needed to look the part.

The image on display comes from a set of porfolios relating to the enormous buildings erected in Moscow under Stalin.  Those that were completed are known today in English as the Seven Sisters, but the set includes eight portfolios – and the image here also shows the ninth and most dramatic of the new buildings planned for the city, the Palace of the Soviets.  The eighth Sister was never built, and the project of Palace of the Soviets lost both momentum and, eventually, support.

The scale of the new Soviet skyscrapers is shown against the darker skyline of the city’s prominent pre-Soviet buildings.  The impact of the October Revolution on the physical city would be dramatic.

Vysotnye zdaniia v Moskve : proekty (1951) CCA.54.5

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