The 1900’s started with the splendid coronation of Nicholas II in Moscow. Yes, St. Petersburg was celebrating! In 1903, St. Petersburg celebrated the city’s 200th anniversary. The new Troitski (Trinity) Bridge was officially opened. Senatskaya Square next to the Bronze Horseman held a party to commemorate the founder of the city.
But things were changing. In 1905, when troops fired on a peaceful demonstration of workers in Palace Square, people didn’t like this and the Revolution began. The events of January rapidly became known as “Bloody Sunday” and by October, Nicholas II was proclaiming new civil rights and giving power to a new parliament.
The opening of the Duma or parliment in 1906 gave hope to the revolutionary liberals in the intelligentsia. But the hardships of WWI, made the people impatient and led to the revolutionary events of 1917.
The two million people in the modern metropolis of St. Petersburg were to face a lot of trouble in the coming war. First off, no more St. Petersburg. The name was not Russian enough. So, Petrograd (new name) began to work to support the war effort and many of Petrograd’s buildings, including a large portion of the Winter Palace, were turned into hospitals.
And the war was not going well for Russia. Food supplies to the Russian capital grew short in 1916 because Petrograd was so far west and the railway network was messed up in the continuing war. Petrograd had people waiting in long lines to buy food at the city’s stores. All this and more brought the abdication of Nicholas II.
The Bolshevik party, led by Vladimir Lenin, had workers and soldiers storm the Winter Palace, where the democratic Provisional Government was. Most of the ministers were arrested and so began 73 long years of Communist rule.
Petrograd became the home of the Red Guard, which later turned into the Red Army. Men left to fight and families migrated to the countryside. Over half the people were gone from the city by the end of 1920.
The German troops were too close to Petrograd. The Bolshevik government under Vladimir Lenin moved the capital to Moscow, a long way from the German front. Petrograd was really abandoned by the government
After the end of the Civil War, the city of Petrograd started to recover. In 1924, After the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin died, they changed the name to Leningrad in 1924, as a symbol of the new Socialism.
The 1920’s saw mass construction of cheap housing for workers with cultural centers becoming places for “the people” to hang out. The large existing apartments were turned into “communal” (shared) apartments, housing several families. Life became drudgery but worse was to come during WWII and the dramatic 900-day Siege of Leningrad.