About Nevsky Prospect

Nevsky Prospect

Nevsky Prospect is the longest and most important artery of St. Petersburg, radiating out from the Admiralty, which faces the Neva river, to Znamensky Square. There it veers slightly to the left and goes to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery (Lavra), from which the street got its name. The main part of the prospect – intersecting three canals – runs in a straight line and ends at Znamensky Square and the city's main train station. Nevsky Prospect was made famous in an eponymous story by Nikolai Gogol, in which it is described as "Petersburg's universal channel of communication." By the beginning of the nineteenth century, it essentially had the face that was known to Petersburg's inhabitants and visitors at the beginning of the twentieth that it still has today. In the words of Michel de Certeau, Petersburg is the kind of city that has mastered "the art of growing old by playing on all its pasts." Nevsky Prospect at the beginning of twentieth century was lined with beautiful baroque and neoclassical palaces, churches of several religious denominations (Russian Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, and Armenian Orthodox), city hall (gorodskaya duma), a public library, bookstores, theaters, including cinemas, banks and other businesses, restaurants, shopping arcades and fashionable shops located in "profitable buildings" (dokhodnye doma).

Nevsky was, and still is, the busiest street in Petersburg. The inhabitants of the city referred to the right side as shady and the left side (even numbers) as sunny, where people took their promenades – window shopping and people gazing. Electric street lights were introduced on Nevsky Prospect in 1883, the first electric tram, in 1907. In Petersburg, Andrey Bely describes the avenue at night as if it were a tableau of bright lights:

Fiery obfuscation floods the prospect in the evening. Apples of electric light hang at regular intervals down the middle. Along the sides shines the flashing glitter of shop signs; here, here, and here the sudden flare of ruby lights; over there – emeralds. A moment later: rubies there, emeralds here, here, and here. And the walls of many houses are lit up with diamond lights: words, consisting of diamonds, "Café," "Farce," "Tait Diamonds," and "Omega Watches" shine brightly.

The prospect's straight line informs the navigation of this itinerary which you can travel up and down by clicking the map. The itinerary's linearity resembles traditional narrative that moves forward in a linear fashion, although the user can deviate from its route by clicking the intersections with other itineraries through the city, and follow them, just like a pedestrian who turns left or right on one of the intersecting avenues of Nevsky. Instead of the best-known landmarks, the Nevsky Propect itinerary maps its shops, banks, hotels, restaurants, and cinemas with the purpose of highlighting the city's material culture and everyday life at the beginning of the twentieth century. As in the life of the city, it serves as the hub of Mapping Petersburg.