A Window To The West Essay Research

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A Window To The West Essay, Research Paper History has it that the United States capital city of Washington D.C. was designed with the intention of intimidating visiting foreign heads of state. The creation of this city had purpose and reason; neither of which are very natural or human. St. Petersburg was viewed by the Russian people in this context. Typically a city grows from a small town to a massive metropolis with years and years of expansion outward. The Russian people already plagued with xenophobia, could not accept Peter the Great’s new city designed with Western ideals and made by Western minds. Peter the Great sought to bring his country into the modern and more western world. By means of taxing old dress, and creating a table of ranks by which upward mobility is

possible and higher education institutions. Through his travels throughout Europe Peter, yearned to update and facilitate Russia as a respected power and as a modernized country. In order to westernize Russia a physical connection had to be established between the Old World Russia and the rest of Europe. The only way to accomplish this feat, was to create trade and travel routes between the West and Russia. After securing his borders, the next task “of expanding Russia’s contacts and territory, especially in ways that would liberate Russia from its long isolation as a landlocked country.”(Thompson 98) Contact with the west was limited because of Russia’s lack of access to warm water seaports where trade and travel between Russia and the West could take place. The need for

warm water seaports therefore shaped Peter’s foreign policy. Peter attempted to gain access to the Baltic Sea by defeating Sweden, the most powerful force in north central Europe. War with Sweden raged on for twenty-one years during which Peter gained enough access in the Baltic to establish a city he named St. Petersburg, his “window to the West.”(Thompson 98) . Indeed Peter’s efforts helped create a window to the Western Europe but like all windows the rest of Europe could look into Russia as mush as Russia could look out to Western Europe. Peter wanted to create a city that showed Europe Russia’s prestige. The premeditated creation of the city, through Peter’s will to carve for himself a “window on the West” overshadowing the old capital of Moscow and steering

the country away from its cultural and religious traditions, led to the notion that the city’s life had a rootless, unreal quality. Leiter 5 Petersburg was seen as an unnatural city to many of the Russian citizens. Physically situated upon a march on the Neva River, the plan of the city was planned and created according to the plan of Peter’s. “The terrain on which St. Petersburg rose was a marshy coastal plain divided into many islands by the branches of the Neva.”(Shvidkovsky 20) This site, for all of its obvious flaws, should have never been developed into a city making the physical plan of the city unnatural. Culturally and socially Peter planned the city also, not allowing the inhabitants choose to come to the new city, as all other cities usually became occupied.

“Peter issued a decree stipulating that a 1000 noble families, a 1000 merchant families, and a 1000 artisan families were to emigrate” to his new capital and only the “best candidates should settle. The urban planning was not so much for aesthetic principle as a means of social organization.”(Shvidkovsky 22) Peter planned the city from its culture, its inhabitants, its architecture and its economics before construction even began. Being a country consumed with xenophobia, most Russians saw the construction of St. Petersburg as unnatural to their nation also. “The architectural aspect of Petersburg was entirely the work of foreign architects. At that time there was not a single Russian master capable of shaping the city’s style”(Shvidkovsky 24) according to Peter.