• It is very difficult to find out the most famous bridge of St. Petersburg in this picture

  • Winter crossing operated from 1894 to 1910

  • Pond near the Anichkov bridge belonged to the category of elite and had a good selection and high prices

  • Sometimes stalls for bathing were rolled out in the Bay by hand, without the use of horses

  • It was possible to ride on water bicycles and boats across the ponds in Kirov Park in 1950s

Letter from Past: Water in History of St. Petersburg Postcards

Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and water is an integral part of its harmonious appearance. Views of the Northern capital are often called «postcard views». However, the postcards that were produced in Russia, represented not only the main Petersburg. We suggest you to make small but fascinating walk into the past and see what the rivers, bridges, beaches and other water bodies were.

1. Palace bridge, 1900 – 1910. In the early twentieth century the ferry was not constant, but floating. The bridge spans were placed on small, wide flat top barges – pontoons. These vessels were standing across the Neva, fixed by anchors. The railing was wooden and lampposts were iron. It happened that the barges on which all rested, were drowning, traffic on the bridge had to be closed, and the reliability of the structure caused great doubts. At the initiative of the public authorities decided to build the permanent drawbridge. The floating version left only memories: it's been moved to the Senate square where it was burned in 1916. In the same year the new Palace Bridge was opened.

2. Ice tram on the Neva, 1900 – 1907. Once St. Petersburg citizens were able to take a tram right on the frozen river for just two cents at any time of the day. At first the path was paved on an incline, and the railcars were moved by gravity. Then electricity was used: wires were stretched between the pillars, which were frozen into the ice. During winter the tram was used by 900 thousand citizens. Every year, before the opening of the line the police checked the ice strength.

Routes were laid from the Winter Palace to Mytninskaya embankment, from the Senate square to the Rumyantsev square, and from the Suvorov square to Sampson Avenue and to the house of Peter I. The transport was reliable; no accidents were recorded until 1910-11, when the movement stopped. Regular tram gradually replaced the ice one.

3. Fontanka. Living fish tank, 1903. These barges in the late XIX – early XX century can be seen not only on the Fontanka, but also on the Neva River, the Little and the Big Nevka. They represented a kind of shopping malls that provide the residents of St. Petersburg with fresh fish. On each barge there were a shop and a warehouse where workers and clerks lived. The living fish cages were slit with a slatted bottom that allowed storing the fish directly in the river water. Each species – perch, bream, whitefish, smelt – had its place. Frozen beluga and caviar were also traded. In winter they brought here the fish caught under the ice of the Gulf of Finland, and placed in vats, where it quickly came to life.

4. Sestroretskiy resort, beach, 1913. It is difficult for a modern man to understand what is shown on this card, and why the wagon rides out to the sea. In fact, is a bathing cabin. Such devices were once used on all the beaches of Europe, and Sestroretsky resort as well. First, the bathing machines were allowed to observe the social etiquette of the time: campers came into cabin fully dressed, changed their clothes and went down the stairs right into the water. Thus, no one could see them in bathing suits on the shore. Second, mobile stall were especially useful for the Gulf: people didn't have to take a long walk in shallow water. They reached the depth, and swam.

5. Water stadium in Kirov Park, 1954 – 1955. In 1950s the Park on Elagin Island was not a place of quiet rest, as it is now. On the 3rd North pond there was the largest Leningrad water stadium. The complex included a 50-meter pool with eight lines, two 25-meter pools with four lanes each, two fields for water polo game, a special pool for swimming training, a tower for water jumps with a height of 3.5 and 10 meters, as well as stands to accommodate the spectators. The competitions were held regularly. Further, Krestovsky Island became the center of sports and other active recreations, and now only boats and ducks are floating across the ponds of Kirov Park. Swimming in the Park is not allowed.

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