How do you rest? How did your fathers and grandfathers rest? Garage invites you on an audio tour of Moscow’s Izmaylovo District, allowing you to delve into the life of Soviet men and enjoy some of the mid-twentieth-century architectural ensembles.
For Soviet workers, the engineers’ workday concluded at five in the evening, leaving them to their own devices after that. Boris Urlanis’s 1968 article “Take Care of Men!” highlighting the increased male mortality in the USSR, including alcohol-related deaths, was thunderous, boosting sociological studies and the opening of narcological dispensaries across the country. The core of the problem, however, was in the very organization of Soviet society that did not encourage leadership in the workplace. In addition to work, women were responsible for taking care of children, buying groceries under severe shortages, and managing the household routine. Meanwhile, the “stronger sex,” freed from domestic duties, got bored in the era of stagnation. These disoriented men of various professions are represented by the protagonists of the popular Soviet films of the time, Afonya (1975) and The Old New Year (1981).
Walking around the courtyards of Izmaylovo District, you will discover traces of their habitat of the 1960s to the 1980s, which the authors of the promenade will discuss together with the area’s current residents.
We recommend that you invite older family members to this walk. If your grandparents grew up in neighborhoods similar to Izmaylovo, the topics and tropes touched upon during the promenade will probably invoke memories of their native places, games, songs, and youth.
Duration: 1 hour 40 min.
Route length: 4 km
The audio walk is available in Russian
Photo: Sergey Nikitin, Maria Nikitenko
Sound engineer: Andrey Romashov
Producer: Larry Coffin
The walk is part of the public program accompanying the exhibition Sekretiki: Digging Up Soviet Underground Culture, 1966–1985.
About the author
Sergey Nikitin (b. 1980, Moscow) is a historian of cities, founder of the MosKultPro urban research project, within which over 100 routes around the suburbs and central districts of Moscow and other cities have been developed. Graduate of the History Faculty of Lomonosov Moscow State University. Candidate of Philology, docent, specializing in the twentieth century. Senior research fellow at the Museum of Moscow. Author of the books Strana Imen (The Land of Names) and Walks in Rome.
The Useless Youth is a young music band based in various parts of the globe (Beijing, Seoul, Baku, Parona).
Pervomayskaya metro station, exit toward Pervomayskaya Street
Barracco and Barocco: “German” houses on the corner of 6th Parkovaya Street and Pervomayskaya Street
22–26, 6th Parkovaya Street
Let’s cross Pervomayskaya Street
Go to Banya! Izmaylovo Bath Houses
21, 6th Parkovaya Street
Next, follow 5th Parkovaya Street, paying attention to the two-story baroque and neoclassicist buildings on the right. You can listen to the interview with culturologist Marina Avdonina about Soviet men in the process.
Marina Avdonina. “Soviet Men”
Paradise and Pigeons. Two dovecote houses with wall paintings
29, Verkhnyaya Pervomayskaya Street
Next, follow Verkhnyaya Pervomayskaya Street and listen to the track Dovelet by The Useless Youth.
The Useless Youth. Dovelet
Garage, A Territory of Freedom. “Raduga” garage construction cooperative
6C, Verkhnyaya Pervomayskaya Street
Next, walk through the yards toward 18, 3rd Pryadilnaya Street. Listen to the memoirs of the Izmaylovo local Anton, who recalls his childhood in the garage.
Anton. A childhood with my father.
Dominoes, wine, squeeze-box, fight… and karate
18, 3rd Pryadilnaya Street
Next, use the backyards to get to the Barracks, Izmaylovo District’s oldest building, focusing on the yard adjacent to building number 16A: here there is another elegant dovecote from the 1980s, as well as a martial arts club. Along the way, listen to the fragment of an interview with Lyuba, who speaks about this area.
Lyuba. From squeeze-box to a fight.
Izmaylovo Manufactory Barracks. Mid-nineteenth century
10, 2nd Pryadilnaya Street
Go through the courtyards from the Barracks towards Izmaylovskaya metro station. On 2nd Parkovaya Street, there is the residential building for the workers of the Electric Lamp Factory, which stands at the back of a small park with a fountain.
House with a light bulb for the workers of the Electric Lamp Factory. Mid-twentieth century
18, 2nd Parkovaya Street
If you are taking a walk on a day off, we recommend visiting the “Patch” in Izmaylovo Park. Since the 1960s, former countryside residents have been gathering here to chat, sing, and dance to the squeeze-box (which traditionally men play). To get there, use the passage near the Izmaylovskaya metro station and then follow the music.
Izmaylovo Park “Patch”: Songs and Fates
Izmaylovo Park, behind Izmaylovskaya metro station
Sergey. On the pigeon breeder’s values