August 01, 1997

Moscow Lights

Imagine a city plunged into darkness for 15 hours a day — from 5 in the afternoon until 8 the next morning. With a weak sun that hardly bothers to get out of bed, the rest of the day is not much brighter. Not a single streetlamp shines and people hurry home nervously through the streets. Until the 1730s, this is exactly what Moscow was like in the winter. For the city’s 850th anniversary, Natalya Potapova takes a look at how Moscow stepped out of the dark ages. Illustrations courtesy of Byloye newspaper.


The first streetlamps appeared in Moscow in 1730, in honor of a visit from members of the imperial court, which was then located in St. Petersburg. At that time, ten Petersburg policemen were invited to Moscow in order to educate the local population in dealing with streetlamps. While the lamps were being installed in the specified places, all residents whose windows overlooked the street were told to set burning candles on the windowsill as it got dark. Others were to light their glass or mica lamps and hang them from signposts.

Digital Subscription Required

Get unlimited digital access for just $2 a month.

Don't have an account? signup

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602