Walk Leader: Andrei Gordeyev
This year for our Jane’s Walk on May 4th, there were four participants. We walked through the streets of one of the districts, remembering historical events in the life of the city and thinking about how to improve the urban space. After the walk we sent several letters to the administration with suggestions and comments.
Here is what the participants said after the walk:
Andrei Gordeyev scheduled a Jane’s Walk on May 4th in the Red October district of Volgograd. He posted an ad in social networks with a call to choose the day and time of most convenience, but no one responded. We decided to have the walk on May 4. We met at the appointed place and two people joined us. None of us had read the book, The Life and Death of Great American Cities completely, but everyone was interested in the processes of the city they live in.
We walked along a small avenue from the square named after Titov, to the Renaissance Square. On one side of the avenue are high-rise buildings. There is a strip of green space planted, I assume to protect people from harmful factory emissions. There were not many people; some yards were almost empty. The houses are old, in need of serious repair. Some are quite beautiful in my opinion. There are many private organizations on the first floors of houses along the avenue. Many premises have been empty for a long period: broken glass, facade drawings. There are large deserted areas and it is unclear what could give them life. They have recently landscaped a plot of the green zone, where instead of the broken asphalt, they have laid tiles and Rustaveli lights. Most of the people we saw were women with children who had come here for a walk. Overall I got the impression that the street life in this place is surprisingly poor.
Just a few activists joined this year’s Jane’s Walk. In 2 hours we walked a long way from Titov Square to the Renaissance Square. We discussed proper infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, the reconstruction of the Park of Gagarin and challenges to “public spaces.” Participants on the walk learned of all the ugliness that can be found in our town. You can sign-up to the site, “Beautiful Volgograd” and in a month receive an answer on this issue from local authorities.
On May 4, I joined the Jane’s Walk in the Red October district of the city of Volgograd. While there were not many people, the atmosphere was mental. Krasnooktyabr’skaya area is famous primarily for its company – the Red October and Barricades. We started the walk from the Barricade plant.
We first stopped at the houses built within a few hundred meters from the walls of the plant, Andrey Gordeev told us that these houses were specially built near the plant for the workers. During the 1950s and 1960s, they built high garages in the courtyards of houses. Andrew was intrigued by the fact that in cases of emergency at the plant, people and equipment had to be ready.
In the next courtyard (between absolutely ordinary houses) to my surprise, we discovered a monument to Karl Marx. Upon further inspection of the yards, we discussed the fact that despite the houses being 60 years old and not in the best form, these houses have their own charm, which is not found in many modern buildings. While many of these houses were built for workers, with no frills, the buildings look great; the red brick walls, small floors, all evoke warm feelings.
Next, we came to the “Tsaritsyno Opera.” It did not especially grab our attention. We were more interested in houses and yards. After that, were the “Stalinist” houses with towers, which look interesting today. You can see architectural excesses in these houses, such as high arches with decorative elements, summer outdoor balconies on the first floor with beautiful openwork clay fences, and scenery next to the windows.
Following these houses, we walked to a park under construction for the 70th Anniversary of the Victory. There were new stone walkways, manicured trees, flowers in the flowerbeds, people on benches, children riding bicycles and roller skates. In my opinion this is one of the best places in the area.
From street 39 Guards there was another park – old and unkempt (but even more wild and beautiful according to Andrei Cartuccia). While we met two grandmothers at the entrance, we otherwise encountered few people. Indeed, the park, judging by the waste is no longer a place of recreation for ordinary citizens. We concluded that by clearing the area of debris, cutting branches, building footpaths, repairing shops for trade, the place could be transformed.
This is not all that we managed to see that day, of course. We need to arrange more such trips to identify and resolve issues of improvement for the city of Volgograd.