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The city of Vladivostok is the capital city of the Primorsky Krai (or state), centered on the Golden Horn harbor and Amursky Bay. The harbor consists of the Fishery Port, source of the region's prime exports of fish and seafood, the naval base, home of Russian Pacific Fleet, and the commercial harbor, base of the Far Eastern Shipping Company. The Vladivostok commercial port, along with the ports of neighboring Nakhodka and Vostochniy, handles most of the sea cargo of the Russian far east and eastern Siberia. The berths of the commercial port, largest in the Far East, stretch along the right bank of the Golden Horn Bay. The Dalzavod shipyard is on the left, the base of the Pacific Navy in the middle, and the Fishery Port on the opposite side.

Vladivostok, a city of over 700,000 and capital of Primorskiy Kray, rests on a rocky peninsula between Amurskiy and Ussiryskiy bays on Russia's Pacific coast. Many of the ornate buildings in the center of the city date from the late nineteenth century when Vladivostok was a growing international trading center.

The tallest of Vladivostok’s hills—Mount Kholodilnik—stands about 260 meters (850 feet) tall. The other large hills near the city center are between 160 and 200 meters (520 and 660 feet). Mount Davidson, the tallest peak in San Francisco, is just over 280 meters (920 feet) tall. Vladivostok’s hills have left an indelible mark on the city. From above, even Vladivostok’s buildings and neighborhood development have been shaped by them.

Vladivostok's recently renovated train station, a smaller version of Moscow's elegant Belorusskaya station, is the eastern terminus of the Transiberian Railway. Vladivostok's suburbs, stretching in a thin band along the eastern side of amursky bay, are a mix of old dachas, sanatoriums, Khrushchev-era apartment buildings, and newly-built brick homes for Vladivostok's wealthy. Each morning and evening, long lines of motorists, most in used cars recently imported from nearby japan, fight for space along the single hilly road that goes from the suburbs into the center.

Given the vast distances, forbidding topographl), and the existence of opposing forces, Siberia and the Far Eastern territories until quite recently played a relatively small role in the development of Russia. The first Russian penetration of the area began in the late 16th century when Cossacks built forts and settlements principally along the Amur River. Fur traders followed, and by the middle of the 17th century they had worked their way to the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk later continuing to expand eastward across Alaska, down the Pacific coast of North America eventually to what is now California. The westward expansion of the United States ultimately required the withdrawal of Russian influence northward.

From the 17th to the mid-19th century, China was able to check serious Russian expansion into the relatively rich Far Eastern territories. In 1858, taking advantage of declin1ng Chinese strength, Russia occupied all of the territory northl of the Amur RiVer. In 1859, in a warship named "America," the Russian Governor-General of Siberia, N.N.Muraviev Amursky ("of the Amur"), explored the snores of the maritime territory and what is today Peter the Great Day. In 1860 the Russians occupied the area east of the Ussuri River, and in July of that year landed troops and equipment to establish the first Russian military post in the southern littoral. This post eventually grew into the city of Vladivostok (from the Russian "vladet'," meaning to iJe master of, and "vostok," meaning east).

Russia's longstanding desire for a Pacific port was realized with the foundation of Vladivostok. The city's nomination as the headquarters of the Russian Pacific fleet in the 1870s brought further growth. The lack of adequate transportation links between European Russia and its Far Eastern provinces was an obvious problem. In 1891, Czar Alexander III drew up plans for the Trans-Siberian Railway and initiated its construction. Despite the enormity of the project, a continuous route was completed in 1905, having been rushed to completion by the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War the year before. Vladivostok became Russia's main naval base in the East after Port Arthur (located in Chinese territory and ceded to Russia in 1898) fell in January 1905, during the Russo-Japanese war. Immediately after the Bolshevik revolution, the region enjoyed a brief period of political autonomy as part of a Moscow-puppet Far Eastern Republic.

After the revolution of 1917, Japanese forces landed in Vladivostok and occupied large parts of the region. They were subsequently joined by approximately 7,500 United States troops and contingents of Brit1sh, French and Italians. By 1920 only the Japanese remained, and a Far Eastern Republic was formed as a buffer between Japan and the Soviet Government. In 1922 Japanese troops were withdrawn, the Republic was dissolved, and the area was incorporated into the Soviet Union as an Oblast. In November, 1922, after American, Canadian and Japanese interventionist troops withdrew from Vladivostok, the Bolsheviks finally won control of this free-wheeling city on Russia’s eastern edge. The Communists closed Vladivostok to foreigners, a ban that lasted 70 years. In the 1930s, Stalin deported all ethnic Asians, and then closed the entire city to Soviets without permits. In the Great Patriotic War, Vladivastok was one of the principal ports for the shipment of Lend-Lease supplies to the Soviet Union. The rollicking, cosmopolitan port that gave the world the Russian-American actor, Yul Brynner, was, in Soviet times, was a paranoid place, closed to Asia.

In 1959 Khrushchev visited San Francisco, and then Vladivostok. Both places have uniquely beautiful natural conditions, but one city is a miracle of architecture and perfection, and the second is the regional center that is usual for our country. They cannot be compared with each other. The slogan “Catch up with and overtake America” for Khrushchev in this place was transformed into the slogan: “Make Soviet San Francisco out of Vladivostok.” Under this slogan, Khrushchev did a lot for Vladivostok. Mass housing construction was launched, a first-class base for the construction industry, new enterprises and research centers were created. The new chief architect of the city was appointed Yu. I. Trautman, who had previously been the chief architect of Ashgabat, where he distinguished himself in rebuilding this city, which was destroyed by an earthquake. A master plan for the development of Vladivostok was developed and approved by the Gosstroy of the RSFSR.

Vladivostok of those times was a very nice and convenient gated city for housing. The city was quiet and calm. There were no apartment and car thefts, robberies and atrocities. No homeless people, no scourges. The courtyards and streets are clean, many flowers, many trees and bushes. The suburbs of Vladivostok are charm itself. In the winter months, the face of Vladivostok and its suburbs is completely different - there is little comfort.

By the turn of the century, there was a common impression that the Russian Pacific Fleet consisted primarily of rusting hulks in the harbour of Vladivostok. While there are a large number of former Soviet vessels that were decommissioned or awaiting scrapping, this impression failed to take into account the ongoing maintenance and activity of the active portion of the fleet. The current Fleet is smaller than its Soviet parent, but comprised more modern and combat-capable combatants, particularly within the attack submarine force. The Pacific Fleet remains a vital element of the defensive system of the Russian Far East. In 2007, President Putin evidently decided that in the era of Asian tigers, Vladivostok was the Pacific Rim’s ugly duckling. In that year, the Russian leader lobbied and won the right to host the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. With the most powerful leaders of Asia destined to converge on Vladivostok in September 2012, Russia’s five-year clock was set. Since then, the Putin team put in place the pieces to make Vladivostok, seven time zones east of Moscow, the Pacific Rim’s new hot city.

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Page last modified: 02-12-2019 17:59:31 ZULU