Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Russia's Magnificent Metro Stations

THE ECONOMIST -- One of the first things you notice when using mass transportation in Moscow or St. Petersburg is the depth and beauty of the two cities' metro systems. Gulliver recently spent some time in both cities' subway systems, but there aren't any photos to show you: it's still illegal to snap pictures in Russian metros (one of the reasons they were built so deep underground was to serve as bomb shelters.)

Despite the restrictions, some fearless Wikipedians and flickr users have taken some beautiful pictures of metro systems all across the former Soviet Union, and Treehugger has put them together into a gorgeous (and informative) slide show (see samples above).

MP: For some stats on the Moscow subway system, see Wikipedia listing here, e.g. daily ridership of 7 million, 177 stations, 12 lines. Especially compared to the U.S., the Russia metro stations are more like museums, basilicas or churches than grimy, subway stations, with marble, chandeliers, columns, and stained glass.

Originally posted at Carpe Diem.


At 8/25/2009 1:32 PM, Blogger KO said...

Wow, those train cars look way out of place in the stations.

At 8/25/2009 1:40 PM, Anonymous Machiavelli999 said...

Isn't the new Athens subway system basically a museum? I heard the artifacts on display in the stations.

At 8/25/2009 2:37 PM, Blogger Andy said...

I've been in most of the stations in Moscow and some in St. Petersburg, and my favorite is probably Mayakovskaya (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayakovskaya_%28Moscow_Metro%29).

At 8/25/2009 2:44 PM, Anonymous Admiral said...

Great post!! Very pretty.

At 8/25/2009 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dislike the escalators.

At 8/25/2009 3:09 PM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

Do the municipal authorities in Russia know about naming rights for stadiums and arenas in the U.S.? Subway Sandwiches could provide tidy annual payments for the rights to the: The Subway Subway Station. This would be a brilliant way to enter the Russian market and coontribute to keeping the marble shiny.

At 8/25/2009 3:11 PM, Blogger Shawn said...

built under communism, I assume? Just goes to show what can be done when a government only focuses on one thing...everything else sucks, of course, but THIS is awesome.

Reminded of stalin's canal to moscow, as described in Gulag.

At 8/25/2009 5:15 PM, Blogger Donny Baseball said...

I was in Moscow and (then) Leningrad in 1987 and rode the Moscow subway alot...very beautiful scenery indeed, but a soulless place to be. No life, no vibrancy, it was depressing. Then there was the danger...As was getting lifted off my feet and shoved into cars by small armies of thick elderly babushkas.

At 8/25/2009 7:41 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

The stations stand in stark contrast to the people passing through them.

The escalators are long, narrow and steep. More than once we had the terrifying experience of a drunk falling back on us as we rode the escalator. During rush hour, the crowd turns into a near riot trying to board the damn things.

After exiting the station, you have the "pleasure" of returning to your Soviet built, dilapidated communal apartment.

I've tried, but I've never been able to take pleasure in the metro.

At 8/25/2009 8:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I said, I dislike the escalators (in both Moscow and St Petersburg). As the previous poster mentioned, the drunks falling from behind can be frightening but worse is when the station is relatively empty and you're the only one on a giant escalator. It's fine when people are in front of you but when no one is...it's a long view down.

Of course, some of the stations are not underground at all so no escalator worries!

They increase the fares on December 31st of each year and it's still incredibly inexpensive.

At 8/25/2009 8:30 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Interesting...I didn't know it was illegal to take pictures; I have many. The Metro is definitely a study in contrast; women dressed in the latest fashion, men drinking beer at 9:00 am, nobody looking at each other, nobody talking, and definitely nobody smiling.

At 8/25/2009 9:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All built with stolen wealth for the glory of the state, not the individual.

Just like Alexanderplatz in old East Germany, walk a few blocks from the showpieces and you'll find abject poverty.

The same holds true in the US. One should wonder whether the opulence is supposed to assuage feelings of oppression or to further insult the repressed.

Look at Saddam's palaces, Beijing, Pyongyang, and Washington DC for examples. No American city is gaining as much 'stimulative', worthless, spending projects as DC.

At 8/25/2009 9:51 PM, Blogger QT said...

Nice to see that not everyone is fooled by architectural fripperies.

How quickly we forget Polonium 210.

At 8/26/2009 3:59 AM, Blogger Tim Worstall said...

Note that suburban stations are just what you would expect from the Soviet system: like the communal apartments.

The central ones, as in those pictures, are as above, horrendously crowded at peak hours. And when the hot water goes off for a month in hte summer, noticeably fragrant as well.

At 8/26/2009 6:32 AM, Anonymous Moscow Insider said...

The stations are good, but the trains could be better.Hope they do change them one day!


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