Petersburg Apartment House

Privately owned apartment buildings (dokhodnyi dom) appeared in Petersburg during the nineteenth century to serve the growing urban population. Literally the term meant house for profit or income. Merchants, in particular, invested in the construction of these private apartment buildings, whose individual residences ranged from modest premises to luxurious suites, encompassing a whole floor. Often one building housed people of different social groups and economic status. The higher the floor, the more modest the housing became. Typically there were commercial spaces on the ground floor, above it offices or large luxurious apartments. On the upper floors were the apartments for middle income families, and at the very top only modest single rooms. These buildings usually had two entrances: the main staircase (paradnaia) and the backstairs (chernyi khod or chernaia lestnitsa) that led to the kitchens. From the beginning of the twentieth century elevators appeared in the main stairway, as well as a telephone shared by the whole building.

The most profitable type was overcrowded substandard housing for the poorest members of the proletariat – nineteenth century versions of which are familiar to us from Dostoevsky’s novels. At the beginning of the twentieth century the emergence of electric trams allowed the expansion of the city to new areas and large apartment complexes were built on Vasilevsky Island and the Petrograd side, which had just been connected to the center by the new Troitsky Bridge. Later World War I would destroy the economic base for the construction of private apartment buildings.

Tverskaya, 7   House of M.P. Tolstoy   House of A.A. Bolshakov   Nevsky, 80
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