#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. In those years, people rarely wrote about Norilsk; the city was just opening up to the country. It is interesting that the modern reader of the geographical sketch of the polar city from 1958 will not be familiar with everything described.
“The wide Stalin avenue begins from the large oval of Octyabrskaya square. It stretches far into the tundra, dozens of new six-story buildings rise on both sides of the avenue. And yet, only the beginning of the future main thoroughfare of the city has been laid. Together with Nikolay Urvantsev we walk along Komsomolskaya street, along Eastern, Southern, Bogdan Hmelnitsky, Pushkin, Pavlov, Lomonosov ones… The streets of Gorstroy (the new part of the city) are no less beautiful than the highways of the oldest cities in the country. Octyabrskaya street seems to bridge the gap between the new and old towns. From Gorstroy, created in the Norilsk river’s valley, it leads to the foot of mount Schmidt, to the factory village.
In many new cities, such as Karaganda, Magnitogorsk and others, construction followed the same path: the first temporary settlements arose, then more comfortable areas near factories and mines, and finally a real beautiful city far from production buildings.
Walking today along Octyabrskaya street, which stretches for several kilometers, you notice how Gorstroy is replaced by a more ‘ancient’ district of Sotsgorod. There is a hotel, the sports palace, the metallurgists’ palace of culture, the plant’s management office, the city museum, and from Zavodskaya street begins the village that was a springboard for the advance of people onto the tundra. Zero Point, Ozernaya, Pyasinskaya streets, and finally, Gornaya – the first street in the city on which the first house of Norilsk has been preserved. It is immediately obvious that this area is much older and more unpretentious than the new buildings. There are also many small wooden houses (they are called balocks), inherited from the first years of Norilsk development.
Like any large industrial city, Norilsk has its satellites – workers’ settlements. There are many of them – Medvezhy Roochey, Zaozerny, Zapadny, Semerka, Kayerkan – you can’t count them all. Some of them – promising – will develop, grow, and improve.
For example, the village of Kayerkan is the future center of the coal industry of the entire region. In 1955, the first stone house appeared here – it seemed something extraordinary. And now the village already has six thousand people, a four-story kindergarten building, a school for working youth, a fashion studio, a gym and stadium, an excellent club, a post office, and seven three-story residential buildings with all amenities. An electric train covers 22 kilometers in half an hour, separating Kayerkan from Norilsk. Miners come to the city in their own cars and by regular bus.
Some other villages will also develop in the same way, but not all. Small, unsafe settlements will disappear, and residents will move to new buildings of the City Construction Committee. Thus, the villages of Rudny and Nagorny were demolished in the fall of 1958. Their population replaced the balocks with apartments in a new six-story building on Stalin avenue.
In the fall of 1958, I decided to visit the newly settled Komsomol members with whom I traveled to Norilsk in 1956. But I couldn’t find them right away. The fact is that it is rare that a Norilsk resident will show you a house by postal address. The city is accustomed to naming buildings by construction site numbers. Everyone knows house number 94 or 106, but few will say how to find house number 8 on Sovetskaya street. After all, Norilsk is a city of new buildings.
Everyone helps the builders, they know in advance who will live in the new apartments and get used to the number of the construction site, which is indicated in the newspaper and announced on the city radio. And since the building usually appears on the edge of the city, in the tundra, it is difficult to determine its postal address in advance. Yes, the scale of the Norilsk construction project is large, construction on permafrost requires special skills, technical courage, scientific knowledge…”
In the History Spot’s photo project, we told how journalists got to Hantaika in the 1960s.
Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive