The city on the Angara has been created for more than 340 years, and every century has left its memory. Irkutsk witnessed the events that are marked in the annals of Siberia, and also those of Russia. There are over 680 monuments of history and culture there, including churches, monasteries, merchant “lace” houses, stone and wooden estates.
Until 1917, the names of the streets in Irkutsk were fixed, as a rule, spontaneously. The new settlers located their yards on convenient sites, orienting their houses with the windows facing south not depending on neighboring buildings or passages.
However, as the city grew, main directions were laid, which later turned into streets. They were given the names of famous merchants (Trapeznikovskaya, Mogilevskaya, Basninskaya and others), the city churches and monasteries (Troitskaya, Blagoveshchenskaya, Tikhvinskaya). Many streets reflected the peculiarities of local natural conditions (Irkut Embankment, Podgornaya), economic activities (Workshop, Kuznetskaya). Each of them is a piece of history.
In 1920, after the decree on renaming was promulgated, 44 streets received new names. The renaming was mainly of a political nature. According to local toponymists, that initiative deprived Irkutsk of a significant part of its individuality, since those names are found in all Russian cities.
From 1920 to 1964 the signs on the houses of some streets were changed again. An archival document testifying to this is published by Irkipedia. Lunin Street, named after the decemberist who once served exile near Irkutsk, also did not escape this fate. It became Norilskaya Street. That happened in the 50s – early 60s, approximately when this name associated with the plant and the polar city appeared in large quantities in other Soviet cities. Norilskaya has added to the list of the streets that represent the geography of our country in Irkutsk: Donskaya, Volzhskaya, Tverskaya, Zhigulevskaya, Kubanskaya, Dalnevostochnaya and others.
Norilskaya Street is located in the residential area of Novo-Lenino. Once upon a time there were only steppes and groves in that place. Then the monastic estates were formed there. In 1894 the Innokentyevskaya railway station appeared on the territory of the monastery. After the war, the territory began to develop rapidly. In the days of the Soviet Union, the small ancient district, which included only three bus stops: Norilskaya, Roshcha and Shkolnaya, began to grow rapidly. New buildings appeared here and there. The situation changed dramatically in the 90s. Nowadays only 90 thousand people live in Novo-Lenino. There are 620 residential buildings there. 23 of them are located on Norilskaya Street which is 551 meters long.
Norilskaya intersects with two streets: after the Academician Obraztsov and Rosa Luxemburg. It is curious that the buildings of the 1920s are still preserved here. However, this is not surprising. The private sector is one of the features of Irkutsk. If most modern cities have private houses only on the outskirts – in Irkutsk they are everywhere. It is not uncommon to see old wooden houses located among high-rise buildings. Even walking among the sky-scrapers, you can hear dog barking or roosters crowing.
To know about Norilskaya Street in other cities read our A point on the planet section.
Text: Elena Popova, Photo: open sources