It has all the features of the times that Norilsk has gone through. The same age as the first Norilsk metal, Sevastopolskaya street was the most representative and distinctive part of the city for many years. The street got its name on May 9, 1975 in honor of the heroic defense of Sevastopol. This is evidenced by the memorial plaque installed on house No.1.
The construction of the street began in 1940. The first to be built was house No.5, it was a three-story one. The second was house No.7, it had five floors. Its inhabitants could watch the cuckoo steam locomotive – it drove along the rails laid on the site of the future lawn.
Buses did not go down the street. But the “fifth district”, as it was called, still remembers how the convicts were led along it, and the inhabitants of the street stared at that gray crowd. Sometimes people in leather coats, with stone faces, came out of the cars passing along the street, and all the inhabitants of Sevastopolskaya understood that the fate of everyone in Norilsk depended on the decisions of those people.
Violets, oats and even American canola used to grow on the lawns of Sevastopolskaya street.
“It was beautiful, but for some creatures it was edible”, says Vadim Denisov in his book Unknown Norilsk. “Shaggy horses under a quilted blanket with carts of plumbers of the first Norilsk housing offices and belonging to the Horse-traction garage (that’s what it was called!) reacted to that greenery”.
There were also experimental greenhouses with onions and cucumbers. They even tried to grow potatoes and cabbage on a small experimental plot between Sevastopolskaya street to Gvardeiskaya square, but it did not work out, did not ripen.
From the recollections of old Norilsk residents: “In Norilsk of a new model – it was called Gorstroy – at first there really was only one street – Sevastopolskaya. And there was the house number 7 on it. Next to it there were old two-story buildings with a corridor system and without any amenities. At that time, the question was being decided: how to lay pipelines – above the ground or in permafrost. So the first water and heat pipelines were laid on Sevastopolskaya. They went from house to house on overpasses that formed fences and arches. Later the second variant was settled – permafrost. There was no trace of passenger transport connecting Sotsgorod with the new city. At best, people got there by cars”.
Since 1954, at 20 Sevastopolskaya, at the end of the street, on its even side, the building of the Norilsk drama theater was located and existed for three decades. It was modernized from a failed house-cinema (a branch of DITR – the most beautiful building of the 1940s). Young Innokenty Smoktunovsky played there in the 1950s, and from 1975 to 1982, the famous Russian director Leonid Belyavsky worked there.
On the opposite side, no longer in such beautiful houses, but still more similar to barracks, there were Norilsk industrial offices – repair, utilities, etc. In the courtyard of house No.8 there was a KGB building.
The street was the favorite and most elegant one in the city for many years. In 1979, the holiday of Sevastopolskaya street was even introduced there. No one expected that just little of it would be left soon. Due to the irreversible destruction in 1981, the city authorities decided to demolish the buildings of the war years of construction and erect nine-story buildings in their place.
Such a decision caused a huge public outcry: the Norilsk residents demanded to preserve the historical appearance of their favorite street. However, due to the fact that the buildings were dilapidated and “pose a threat to residents”, the city officials insisted on the demolition of the unique buildings.
The street was saved only partially. From the pristine Sevastopolskaya, there are only three houses now. Two are at the beginning of the street – No1 and No2. The legendary house No.7 has also survived, it was also called the bird house – it had two architectural wings, one of which was “cut off”.
In 2019, the art-resident of the Norilsk Museum, architectural historian Tatiana Efrussi, created the project Norilsk Sevastopolskaya. Archeology of the disappeared street. The artist succeeded in virtual reconstruction of the Norilsk street, the pride of the Norilsk people. The houses demolished in the 1980s also came to life.
The Transcaucasian history of Norilsk architecture was of particular interest to the residents. The decorative elements of the Armenian style on the buildings of Sevastopolskya street, built according to the designs of Mikael Mazmanyan, Gevorg Kochar and other architects who were forced to work far from their homes made the houses look solemn. Tatiana Efrussi researched archival materials from the funds of the Norilsk Museum, personally communicated with many Norilsk residents and bit by bit collected their memories about the disappeared street, city’s legends and the transformation of the architecture of the polar city.
Today on Sevastopolskaya there are buildings of the of Nornickel Polar Division and the city administration, a bank, shops and residential buildings.
In the 1980s, the square of Heroes Memory joined the street, we will walk there another time – there is something to tell about it as well.
Get acquainted with other routes of our guide in the Must see and must do section.
Text: Marina Horoshevskaya, Photo: Olga Polyanskaya and archives of Norilsk residents