Moscow, 1931

Kuznetsky Most street, here

We have already published some photo galleries of Moscow from the 1980s and 1960s. Now a great leap follows back in time, to the beginning of the 1930s.

The Kremlin from the Bolshoi Kamenny Most, here

The Library of the University of California in 1971 received the photo legacy of photographer and travelogue lecturer Branson DeCou from his heirs. Between 1921 and 1941 DeCou traveled all over the world, and took about 8 thousand glass slides, not only on the historical monuments but also on the everyday life of the visited cities. He then regularly held presentations with projected slides in various cities of the USA. The library has recently started the digitization of the hand-colored slides.

The Kremlin from the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Most, here

Russian blogger Nikolas11 over the past few days looked over the already digitized material and picked out the photos representing Moscow. In addition, he also placed them, with a laborious work, on the map of the collective site “The photos of Old Moscow”. The links “here” in the following captions lead you to the respective point of the map.

The Kremlin from the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Most, here

These pictures are unique not only because of their fascinating atmosphere or the attentive representation of street life and faces. But also because perhaps this was the last moment when the old Moscow could be seen still intact and without the erosion of the following decades. Stalin had just recently blocked the new economic policy announced ten years earlier, and the period of collectivization and repressions as well as of the Socialist transformation of Moscow began. On almost each of the following pictures we see – for the last time – monuments that did not survive the end of the 30s.

The Mosvkoretskaya street and the Vasilevsky spusk from the Moskvoretsky bridge, here

Kremlin, Granovitaya Palace, here

Kremlin, the Blagoveschensky (Annunciation) cathedral, here

The Great Ivan bell tower, here

The Red Square, here

The GUM supermarket, here

Resurrection or Iversky gate (destroyed in 1931), here

Sverdlov (Theatre) square, here

Teatralny proezd towards the Lubyanka, here

The TsUM supermarket, here

The Second Moscow Art Theatre (then Central Children’s Theatre), here

TORGSIN, the “foreign currency” shop for foreigners (1931-36), here

Ohotny Ryad street, here

The Soviet square, here

Agitation poster for the five years plan on the Soviet square, here

Soviet square, Lenin Institute, here

Strastnaya square (where the giant lion was sleeping), here

Tversky square, with the still standing New Triumphal Gate, here

The Christ Savior cathedral, blown up in 1931, here

The Christ Savior cathedral, here

The Novodevichi monastery, here

The Pyatnitsa street with the Paraskeva Pyatnitsa church (destroyed in 1935), here

The Resurrection of Christ church in Sokolniki, here

Tower of the Church of St. Pantelemon of Athos, here


Anti-NEP propaganda

“Fire Protection Propaganda Station”

Sukharev Tower, blown up in 1934, here

The Vladimir Gate on Lubyanka square, destroyed in 1934, here

House of Culture of the “Kauchuk” factory, here

The “Zuev” House of Culture, here

The “Rusakov” Workers’ Club, here

Moiseevskaya square, here

Tram station on the Moiseevskaya square, here

New car in old Moscow, here

Foreigners taking photos at MosTorg, here

Foreigner taking photos, here

Kvas and mors (berry beer) seller, here

“A better customer service for the workers!”, here

Manifestation along Krasnoprudnaya street, here

Perhaps the interior of the TORGSIN (foreign currency shop), here

Queue in front of the shop of Armenian drinks along the Pyatnitsa street, here

Birzhevaya square, here

Sokolniki, Green theatre, here

Sylvester Stallone’s father selling foreign currency at the wall of Kitaigorod :) here

“Soyuzpechat”, newspaper seller at the wall of Kitaigorod, here

Taxi station at the Leningrad railway station, here

Carter along the Strominka, here

Worker’s Canteen Nº. 1, here

The post will be continued with the 1931 Leningrad photos by DeCou. Check back soon!

9 comentarios:

Languagehat dijo...

Fantastic photos, and I love the Old Moscow site! Can anybody identify the huge wall looming at the left of the TORGSIN photo?

MOCKBA dijo...

Thanks for sharing! A couple points for nitpicking sake: mors is sweetened cranberry juice drink (nonalcoholic) or sometimes other kinds of nonalcoholic fruit punch. Caoutchouc is the proper English spelling of rubber base, actually not much used in modern English.

Studiolum dijo...

Thanks, Москва, I’m always grateful for your comments – you’re the favorite nitpicker of Río Wang.

Concerning “Kauchuk”, I also hesitated whether to consider it the name of the factory (and transliterate it as I did) or its main profil: but in the latter case I either should have opted for “Caoutchouc” which I felt hopelessly awkward, or for a larger explanative translation. So finally I decided to give a plain transliteration whose meaning will be clear for the English reader anyway.

As to морс, whenever I took it on the streets of Russian cities, I always felt it slightly fermented. And the Russian Wikipedia also quotes from an authoritative source: Содержание алкоголя в морсе - не менее 1%, содержание сухих веществ - 3,5-4,4%.

MOCKBA dijo...

Hehe, it's a bit easier to try improving your wonderful blog one word at a time than to contribute whole sections!
Russian wikipedia is surprisingly off-base about mors. The only online reference there is to a cookbook with a dozen mors entries, all decidely tee-totaling. In fact you can trace barreled mors to XVI c. editions of the Domostroy homemaker manual (which absolutely insists on using yeast-free barrels). Supposedly it was a Byzantine borrowing <= Latin mulsum, a honey-sweetened drink.

But the mors gets murky at this point, because mulsum was alcoholic, and mors-based desert mixers are known as simply mors in a number of European countries.

Nowadays, single-drink pouches and liter boxes of morses are all over Russia, and the grand irony of the XXI century is that they make a lot of the stuff from American cranberry juice concentrate ... that's not half century after Yuliy Kim famously sang,

"все равно по количеству клюквы
не догонит Америка нас!"

And Kauchuk ... you may be right, but in the early 30s all rubber was still natural product, and the French word might have appropriately carried the flavor of the time. As the Congolese slaves of the Belgian King used to sing on plantations,

"The White Man demands Caoutchouc, Caoutchouc, Caoutchouc
But we reply: Caoutchouc, Caoutchouc, Caoutchouc is Death!"

After the advent of synthetic rubber, Russian and English parted ways. In English Caoutchouc was strictly Natural, but in Russia, everything prior to vulcanization.
I'm a bit partial both to the Old Moscow workers' club with its concerts, and to the stretchu polymer itself too. My granny met my grandfather through her work at the world's first synthetic rubber SK plant at Yaroslavl, and I interned at another, more infamous SK @ Sumgait, Azerbaijan. People don't realize that it was the Caoutchouc which gave birth to this grim city of future massacres. SK construction has been delayed by WWII; instead, a top-secret "Ozero" chlorine complex has been built across the tracks. Even the Nazi spies were unaware. In 1942, the Germans appointed management crew for the SK which didn't even churn out its first rubber until mid-50s, having been equipped with assorted "trophy" machinery from the German plants. Truly to say, Caoutchouc is death.

Anónimo dijo...

It is TSUM supermarket, rather than CUM :)

Rusa dijo...

@ Language

The wall is just a firewall of the adjacent building

Studiolum dijo...

@ Anónimo: Yes, you’re right. The abbreviation was taken over without modification by negligence from the Hungarian original of the post, where CUM was the correct form. Now I change it in this English version.

MOCKBA dijo...

Huh, I see that Araz never commented about Sumgayit!

Another connection to add ... The name of the TORGSIN currency-store chain survives in modern Russian, due to the ever-popular Murka, and archetypal Odessa underworld chanson.

Раньше ты носила туфли из Торгсина,
Лаковые туфли "на большой",
А теперь ты носишь рваные калоши,
И мильтон хиляет за тобой.

Studiolum dijo...

Yes, I have earlier quoted the song (even if this version only in link). Would be good to write in detail about it, so I’d be grateful for any audio version, background literature and info, and so on.