Dnepropetrovsk History


Population 1,137,000 (1998)
Location 48o 28' N latitude
35o 3' E. longitude
Square 309,7 sq. km
Length from north to south - 22 km
from east to west - 33 km
Highest point 188 m
Lowest poiny Dnieper River level - 52 m
Highest building TV tower - 180 m

The city of Dnepropetrovsk (Dnipropetrovs’k in Ukrainian) is situated on the river Dnieper (Dnepr or Dnipro) in the Central Ukraine. Population ~ 1.2 million.

Large and beautiful, it is the main city of Central-East Ukraine. This constant fortress settlement has existed since the middle of the 16th century. The new town was founded in 1776 by the Russian duke, Potemkin by order of Catherine II, Empress of the Russian Empire and called Yekaterinoslav from 1776 to 1926. During 1918 the town’s name was Sicheslav (The Glory for Sich’/Fortress of Cossacks).

Dnepropetrovsk has been the major center of the steel industry from the beginning of the 20th century until the present. It has also been dominant in the spacebuilding industry since the 1950s. Today the city is the main trade and industrial center of East Ukraine. There are 11 universities, academies and institutes in Dnepropetrovsk.

Construction of the Metro (underground, subway) was completed in late 1995. International airport (direct lines from Vienna, Frankfurt on Maine, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Moscow etc...)

"The City of Yekaterinoslav - entirely the creation of Prince Grigoriy Potyomkin" - wrote the famous Ukrainian historian Dmytro Yavornitskyi. And the construction plans were far ahead of their time...

In the 1770s the Russian Empire bacame anxious with the problem of Turkish domination in Asia Minor. The numerous Turkish fortresses on the Black Sea coast and Dnieper River banks prevented border crossings to the empire to the south. The last Slavic fortified territories were Cossacks' forts - Zaporiz'ka Sich. Cossack AND Russian armies participated in the war with Turkey. In 1774 Prince Grigoriy Potyomkin (1739-91) was nominated as governor of Novorossiysk gubernia (region). In that year the Turkish-Russian war was settled. Now the Cossack army as a rallied military force was not so necessary for the Empire. The fertile land of Zaporizhya had attracted Russian landowners for a long time and the new plan of Katherine II was the gradual destruction of the Cossacks' state.

In 1775 Sich was destroyed. Division of the Zaporizhian lands and its gradual settling by foreigners of all nations required construction of new cities and settlements. Then began the realisations of the large projects in glory to Katherine the Great: construction of the cities of Kherson, Nikolaev and Yekaterinoslav. The first site of the new city in 1776 was chosen rather unsuccessfully: at the confluence of Kil'chen' River into the Samara River in the area of Loshakivka. In 1782 the city's population was 2194 inhabitants, however the next year it was ordered the site be transferred because of the unfitness of the place for construction and residing. Spring waters transformed the city into a bog. (look map of Yekaterinoslav Kil'chen (290 kb).

Yekaterinoslav-2 was based in 1783 in the Zaporizhian village of Polovytsia (founded approximately at the end of 1760s), between the settlements of Old and New Kodaki. Polovitsia was settled west of the main section of the city (between Ozyorka and the present central part of the city). After some years it was absorbed by the growing city limits.

The construction plans of the city were huge: 30 verstas (Russian length unit 1 versta=~ 1 km) in length, 25 in width, up to the Mokra Sura River. The main structures would settle down on the hill. At the corona of it all would be the Preobrazhenskiy Cathedral (the size to be "unique in the whole world") In addition to the Cathedral there were construction plans to build a huge "magnificent university" (but it was not built).

The streets of the new city were to be direct and wide. On Monastyrskyi Island there was supposed to be a botanical garden. Many of these unique and unusual plans were lost in Russian red tape, defective workmanship and stealing. Structures including Potyomkin Palace were under construction very slowly. The construction site was bought from retired Cossack yesaul (colonel) Lazar' Globa, who possessed a lot of lands up to the borders of the new city L. Globa is known for his gardens which partly exist now).

Prospering larceny and a change of authority (both Prince Potyomkin and Katherine II had died and the receiver Pavel the First hated favorite creations of his mother) caused all construction to stop by the end of the century. The plans were reconsidered, the size of the Cathedral was reduced (it was completed only in 1835), parts of buildings were left unfinished. From 1797 to 1802 the city was called Novorossiysk. It eventually decayed and became a silent village. The great plans were in the past. From them there was only the spirit of what could have been greatness. So it was until 1870, when the city became alive again....

Old Train Station  In the beginning of 19th century the city of Yekaterinoslav had only 6389 inhabitants, in 1865 - 22,816, in 1887 - 48,000 and in 1897 the population had increased to 121, 200 people. For the last thirty years of the century the population of the city increased 5 times. What was reason for such a population boom?

Two men: the Englishman Mr. John Hughes (who developed the Donetsk coal deposits) and Ukrainian Alexandr Pol', who opened the Kryvyi Rih iron ores. He found ore casually in 1866 while involved in archaeological research. The Donetsk coal was necessary for melting the pig-iron of Kryvyi Rih ore and there was a need for a connecting railway. It wasn't until 1881 that the sanction for its construction was received and in 1884 it began to work. The constant metal bridge through Dnieper was opened. From this moment the city began to grow quickly. New settlements appeared: Amur, Nizhnedniprovsk and the factory areas developed. In 1897, because of the development of the city, third in the Russian Empire, Yekaterinoslav opened the electrical tram... In 1899 the High Mining School was open and by 1913 it had grown to be the Mining Institute.

The end of 1905 was filled with blood of the first anti-tsar revolts. Some tens of people were killed and hundreds were wounded. The wave of devastation of the Jews had passed. The atmosphere in society was heated. After the revolution of 1917 and the subsequent Civil War the city was dominated by ruin and an infinite change of authorities for some years. All this resulted in a paralysis of industry and transport. During eight months of 1918, in the period of Hetman (the Chairman of Ukraine), under the decree of Hetman Pavlo Skoropads'kyi, the city was called Sicheslav. By Skoropads'kyi's initiative the University in Yekaterinoslav was open on the basis of High Female School. Finally, the authority of the Bolshevik Party was established in Prydniprovye to the end of 1920, but there were still a few revolts up to the middle of 1921.

In 1926 the city of Yekaterinoslav was renamed - Dnipropetrovsk had appeared.... The Dnipropetrovs'k (Dnepropetrovsk in Russian) city name consists of two words: "Dnipro" (Dnieper River) and "Petrovsk" (named for Petrovskiy). Grigoriy Petrovskiy (1878-1958) was the first Parliament (Soviet) leader of the new communist Ukrainian republic.