Leningrad is a very young city, only 300 years old. Under the Czar Peter the Great in 1703 the construction of the Peter and Paul fortress was started on a small island on the estuary of the Neva. The fort was intended as a protection post for the areas taken away from the Swedish king. Following this the port was built, as well as the fortress Kronstadt, the Admiralty and further shipping wharfs and workers quarters.
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In 1712 the city was so well developed that the Czar was able to bring the government seat here from Moscow and its rise continued. Already in 1726, 90 percent of all imports and exports were through Saint Petersburg. It was a planned city as Brasilia or Canberra in Australia.
The radial road system from the Admiralty, with ring roads, was the result of a Czar's decree (Ukas) in 1715.
Growth and rise were breathtaking. In 1837 the first Russian railway went from Saint Petersburg to Zarskoje Selo. Traditional industrial activites like textiles or building materials were set up and machinery and paper production grew.
The number of workers rose from 21, 000 in 1862to 131, 000 in 1900. The social position of the workers was however far from good and became critical during the economic crisis 1902-1904. There followed unrest and uprisings which finally escalated to the Russian October Revolution in 1917.
In the Second World War the harbor city was besieged from 1941 to the Spring of 1944.