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Saint-Petersburg by Building Age
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When I was in Saint-Petersburg last November I briefly met a friend of a guy called Nikita Slavin.

He had a cool project involving mapping out the age of 55,000 buildings in Saint-Petersburg. TLDR, Saint-Petersburg is really the city of Nicholas II – an absolute majority of buildings in the center were built during the 1900-1916 period.

As you can see from the statistics bar at the bottom, the pace of construction would not exceed Tsarist levels until mass khrushchevki came along from the 1950s.

Anyhow, I am happy to see that his project has recently culminated.

Here is the map itself:

And here is a longread (in Russian) on how he made it:

• Category: History • Tags: Infrastructure, Real Estate, Saint-Petersburg 
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  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

  2. WHAT says:

    I wonder what he thinks about that Varlamov clown.

  3. melanf says:

    Saint-Petersburg is really the city of Nicholas II – an absolute majority of buildings in the center were built during the 1900-1916 period

    This is clearly an incorrect statement. Buildings that form the face of Saint Petersburg-among them there is not a single building of the era of Nicholas II. In the tourist center of St. Petersburg (which is much smaller than the “historical center”), these buildings do not make up the majority even as a background. But if you just estimate the number of buildings, then St. Petersburg is the city of Khrushchev and Brezhnev.

    As you can see from the statistics bar at the bottom, the pace of construction would not exceed Tsarist levels until mass khrushchevki came along from the 1950s.

    Counting by the number of houses (and not by housing area) is clearly incorrect in this case

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  4. It is now 1917 St Petersburg across the Western world, we are living in the same kind of transformation, society totally inverting rather quickly, under the ‘new Bolsheviks’ who are pushing on all fronts, as Lenin did

    The history of Saint Petersburg in that fateful 1917 merits our full attention

    In line with what AK has noted in his highlighting of ‘biological leninism’ as detailed by Spandrell –

    We see the USA especially, now crumbling under the leninist tactic of pumping up minorities who will gain status via revolution, and help the elites rule over the great middle normie mass … who already sense they must go along or be destroyed, as happened in Russia after 1917 St Petersburg … many already literally kneeling to the new order

    Facts and truth matter increasingly less, as leninists in the West consolidate control of both media, and government-legal machinery … It is now just Who? Whom? before leninist kangaroo ‘authorities’

    There is even a Wojak Lenin

  5. @melanf

    But I was specifically referring to the center. And the columns 1900-1920 are much higher than all the others until the 1950s.

  6. unit472 says:

    I know the Germans did not physically occupy St. Petersburg but they did lay siege to the city for several years. How much damage did they inflict on the pre war city?

    • Replies: @melanf
  7. melanf says:

    But I was specifically referring to the center. And the columns 1900-1920 are much higher than all the others until the 1950s.

    The Germans and Finns shelled Petersburg with heavy guns and the lutwaffe bombed, but in General the destruction was small and almost everything destroyed was restored. German troops blew up palaces in the suburbs but they were carefully restored (some palaces are still being restored)

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  8. @melanf

    That’s beautiful.

    • Agree: mal
    • Replies: @mal
  9. mal says:
    @reiner Tor

    Thats in the suburbs. St Peterburg is a very pretty city, i didnt want to leave when I was visiting family last January.

    Those 80’s era high rises are showing their age though. Thats where family lives, they are made with cement and some small tile, and it just looks drap and dirty and ugly now. I wonder when/how they are going to renovate those things.

    New construction looks awesome though, North Side by Begovaya metro station is very SWPL, mini parks and murals and Belgian/Irish beer bars.

  10. Sparkon says:

    Unfortunately, Russian cities are not 3D mapped in Google Earth, nor are China’s. I was hoping to get a look at St. Petersburg’s skyline with the towering new 462 meter Lakhta Center that was erected by 2019, and is now the tallest building in Europe. No previous high rise in St. Petersburg was more than 125 meters in height, so this new tower is really a remarkable, if not startling but entirely graceful and beautiful addition to the city’s skyline, and a strong expression of Russia’s economic vitality showing itself outside Moscow with this bold addition.

    Image Wikipedia

    The Lakhta Center takes the title of Europe’s tallest building from Moscow’s Federation Tower, completed in 2017, which stands at 374 meters (1,227 feet). Moscow is also home to five of the next six entries in the list, interrupted only by London’s Shard, which was briefly the continent’s tallest in 2012, at 310 meters (1,016 feet) tall. Both St. Petersburg and Moscow are located geographically in the European part of Russia.

    In Moscow, construction continues on the 400 meter One Tower, which will be the city’s tallest when completed in 2024. Just over the last 10 years, Moscow has added these five new, very tall skyscrapers, each over 300 meters, giving the Russian capital legitimate claim to the most impressive skyline in Europe, with 15 of Europe’s 25 tallest buildings located in Moskva.

  11. Iaxan says:

    Soviets had transformed palaces and merchant houses of St Petersburg into communal houses:

    Good for them, they started the Revolution 🙂

    • Replies: @melanf
  12. melanf says:

    Well, this is a propaganda article that depicts a rare relic of the past as a kind of mass phenomenon

  13. @Sparkon

    One Tower doesn’t look very pretty to me, it’s just a glass board when viewed from a distance
    Mercury and Evolution tower look more appealing

    • Replies: @songbird
    , @melanf
  14. Apparently, quite a lot of the pre 1914 buildings were roofed with Welsh slate. I was asked to find a route to market for the Welsh slate quarry that provided them. There is always a demand for maintenance. I couldn’t find a way in. Some roofs are quite chequered.

  15. SIMP simp says:

    Was this the result of an official policy or just of the prosperity of the late imperial period?

    • Replies: @melanf
    , @Anatoly Karlin
  16. songbird says:

    Lakhta Center reminds me of an ICBM, and Evolution Tower makes me think of a nuclear shockwave, with a second vaguer suggestion of radiation-induced mutation.

  17. melanf says:

    One Tower doesn’t look very pretty to me, it’s just a glass board when viewed from a distance

    From a distance, the skyscraper looks like a Cathedral tower. Due to its simple proportions, the skyscraper looks quite elegant, in contrast to Moscow skyscrapers that are made with an accentuated unnatural “modern” shape

    • Replies: @Korenchkin
  18. melanf says:
    @SIMP simp

    Was this the result of an official policy or just of the prosperity of the late imperial period?

    The same exact picture is everywhere in Europe (in Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Stockholm..). the Beginning of the 20th century was the era of mass construction of 5-6-storey houses in cities (on the site of wooden or low-rise buildings). Nicholas II had nothing to do with this process – this freak left behind nothing but ugly churches

  19. I never went to SPB but, from what I am reading about it (in particular in the Red Wheel), it seems that Peter really chose the most inconvenient, unhealthy location to build his city, did not he? The climate there seems to be atrocious, without even a nice crisp continental winter like in Moscow. I would love to hear more about that from commenters familiar with the city.

    On a somewhat related note: if someone loves Mediterranean weather AND want to live in Russia, what would be the closest approximation? Sotchi?

    • Replies: @SIMP simp
    , @AP
    , @mal
    , @melanf
    , @E
  20. @SIMP simp


    Interesting. How [un-]safe is it to invest in real estate in Crimea currently?

  21. Due to EU/US sanctions, I am afraid it’s extremely risky business for a EU-based person to invest in Crimea and thus in Sebastopol currently. Diverging opinions welcome 🙂

  22. AP says:
    @Guillaume Tell

    When I visited it in winter, it was indeed miserable compared to Moscow. Humid, +1 Celsius, and with freezing rain. Such weather (the humidity) makes it feel colder than Moscow’s typical crisper, -5C to -10C winter days.

    Conversely, summers are cool; if you are with a woman who enjoys wearing short skirts it will not be comfortable for her, though the natives are used to it. But it’s a nice break if Moscow has a heat wave.

    • Replies: @mal
  23. mal says:
    @Guillaume Tell

    St Petersburg was build as giant ‘Fuck You’ to Sweden, which, at the time, was a very powerful empire and the worlds most advanced military power. Sweden annihilated Russian army at Narva (Estonia) four years prior to the city’s founding, and then proceeded to crush Russia’s European allies in the Northern War.

    If you only look at the map, it seems idiotic – only a madman would build a capital city right on the front line of a powerful enemy state. But maps are deceptive because the place is a logistical nightmare that makes it impossible for armies to operate. It is all swamps and forests.

    It is so difficult to move that it was easier for Sweden to go to Ukraine (battle of Poltava) and Turkey than to go a few miles in Karelia. Same for Napoleon and Germans in both world wars – it was easier to cover hundreds of miles and go to Moscow than travel 20 miles in St Petersburg suburbs.

    The same works in reverse of course. Soviet armies had terrible time against Finns in Karelia, and could not eliminate German Narva pocket during WW2, despite driving to Berlin. Terrain is just that difficult.

    So the city served as both the window to the West, with shipyards and sea access, and a ‘Fuck You, come and get it’ to the West at the same time. For what it’s worth, Sweden was no longer a major power at the end of the Northern War.

  24. mal says:

    Don’t know about Moscow, but in SPB shortness of skirts seems to vary with age, and weather affects the thickness of tights. But skirts and dresses are worn regardless.

  25. melanf says:
    @Guillaume Tell

    it seems that Peter really chose the most inconvenient, unhealthy location to build his city, did not he?

    This place was most convenient as the only possible seaport connected by waterways to the Central part of the country. But as in any seaport in St. Petersburg, high humidity and strong winds. Since the city was built among forests, the products had to be transported from far away, which in the 18th century greatly irritated the feudal nobility.

    When a foreign traveller enters a state, he usually looks for the capital among the most fertile and most favorable places for life and health; in Russia, he sees beautiful plains enriched with all the gifts of nature, overshadowed by lime and oak groves, and cut off by rivers
    navigable, whose shores are picturesque to the eye, and where, in a temperate climate, the well-balanced air contributes to good life, – sees and, regretfully leaving these beautiful countries behind, enters the Sands, swamps, and sandy pine forests, where
    poverty reigns….

    But today these disadvantages have become advantages-St. Petersburg is surrounded by forests, huge beaches are available for swimming, the air is cleaner than in Moscow thanks to the wind. This probably affected the current pandemic – in St. Petersburg, the epidemic was much weaker than in Moscow.

    Here is the area of St. Petersburg where I live

    Unhappy residents of Moscow come here on vacation

  26. @Sparkon


    I’d have much rather they’d constructed Russia Tower (612 meters), which was canceled in the wake of the 2008 crash.


    • Agree: Korenchkin
    • Replies: @Sparkon
  27. @SIMP simp

    Urbanization was happening at unprecedented levels (in absolute terms), so it was a natural development.

  28. @melanf

    I’m talking about the new one being built in Moscow, not Lakhta, I like the Shard

  29. Sparkon says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Yes, I agree the cancelled Russia Tower would have been a more handsome building, and a more graceful addition to Moscow’s skyline.

    Generally, I don’t think asymmetrical tall buildings are pleasing to the eye, but it seems to be a recent trend, witness the lopsided and busy 30 Hudson Yards in NYC, or the less-extreme One Manhattan West, both finished in 2019, which feature angled facade elements reminiscent of One Tower.

    Still, I would like to see the finished product in Moscow from various angles, especially not so close to ground level. Time will tell, but once it is completed, I suspect One Tower may not hold the title of Moscow’s tallest building for long, at least if Moscow’s recent surge of skyscraper construction offers any clue.

    Skyscraper construction is a good visual representation of a country’s economic health. Wealthy countries tend to build big skyscrapers in their major cities.

    For example, Shenzhen in China has several new proposals on the table for very tall skyscrapers, including what would be the world’s tallest building at 830 meters, narrowly unseating Burj Khalifa (828 m), along with proposals for other towers at 760 m, 680 m, 608 m, and 580 meters to accompany the existing 600 meter Ping An IFC in Shenzhen.

    Finally, say what you will, at least One Tower does not rise to the standard for building ugliness set by Carbuncle Cup winner 20 Fenchurch Street in London, affectionately dubbed “Walkie Scorchie” by the British press after light rays reflected from the building partially melted a Jaguar XJ.

    Constructionenquirer dot com

    20 Fenchurch Street, London – “Walkie Scorchie”

    Sticking out like the proverbial sore thumb…

  30. inertial says:

    an absolute majority of buildings in the center were built during the 1900-1916 period

    What is the definition of “center”? It it is “the city as it was in 1916” then the result is a tautology.

  31. E says:
    @Guillaume Tell

    The climate is pretty bad, yes, not helped at all by the city architecture which creates wind tunnels everywhere. Despite the swamp being hidden under asphalt and stone, one still feels like one is in a cold, northern swamp.

    In autumn and winter, it is wet, very windy and cold. In summer, there are many mosquitoes that find their ways into homes (or so it was when I visited; perhaps the city has improved the leakiness of its water pipes since then?)

    The weather of Novgorod, the original window to Scandinavia, really is a lot more pleasant.

    St. Petersburg is a symbol of humanity forcing its will upon nature. A giant FU, not just to Sweden and the West, but to nature itself.

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