VLADIVOSTOK: A HISTORIC WALKING TOUR
by Maria Lebedko
Spectacularly situated on a bay of the Sea of Japan, Vladivostok was founded as a military post in 1860. It became the main Russian port on the Pacific Ocean in 1873, and received city status in 1880. With a population of about 700,000, it is today the capital of Primorye--the Maritime Territory of the Russian Far East--and home to the Russian Pacific Fleet.
Thanks to its advantageous location in close proximity of China, Korea, and Japan, Vladivostok early on became a center of international trade, diplomacy, and cooperative business ventures. A significant assistant in these cosmopolitan affairs was the Great Northern Telegraph, owned and managed by Denmark, which swiftly connected Eastern Russia with Europe by way of telegraphic lines in Nagasaki, Shanghai, and Vladivostok. During the 1890s and early years of the 20th century, the city was a boom town of tumultuous growth, lively cultural opportunities--and crime. In a parallel with todays rapid development, numerous commercial agents, individual businessmen, and diplomats representing many countries flocked to the city. But the outbreak of World War I, the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the ensuing Civil War changed things. For much of the Soviet period, Vladivostok was a fortress city closed not only to foreigners but also to all Soviet citizens without special permits. It was officially opened again in January 1992.
Vladivostok : A Historic Walking Tour outlines some of the historical background to the fine architectural monuments of the city center. Often compared to San Francisco, Vladivostok offers breathtaking views, steep hills with streetcars, and turn-of-the-century buildings. But, although it exhibits certain Western features, Vladivostok is not an imitation of other places; as this tour shows, it reflects the history and culture of its own unique location. For it is a Russian city in Asia, with a proud history in both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, and with a hopeful Pacific-Rim future.
Birgitta M. Ingemanson
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Copyright 1999 Maria
Lebedko. All rights reserved.