M (mfortki) wrote in russiamagazine,


This week, RUSSIA! would like to share af1461's translated post on the Russian far north mining town of Norilsk. "A city in the arctic dessert. A city without a single tree. A city that healed my soul. A polar oasis."



The Norilsk industrial area is located 100 km from the Yenisei river, at the western foothills of the plateau Putorana. It includes cities and towns Talnah, Kayerkan and Oganer, as well as Norilsk - a city just with a fate almost identical to Mangazei.

The area has been famous for its export of copper ores near Lake Pyasino for several centuries. However, serious study of the area began only in 1919 when the squad of geologist N.N. Urvantsev landed in Dudinka.
It quickly became obvious that not only are there rich deposits of copper and nickel ores, in the area, but also deposits of coal that is required for the mining and metallurgical industry. It seemed favorable to construct of a large mine, since copper and nickel were always in deficit. But the isolation and distance of the area almost buried the city before it was even born. It was taking a long time to decide to start large-scale geological surveys. It happened only after the personal intervention of F.E. Dzerzhinsky.

By 1930, it was clear they've discovered a land of very rich deposits. In 1935, construction on a workers' village, mine and plant had begun. During the war, Norilsk has given the country industrial quantities of nickel and cobalt that are so necessary for the production of solid alloys.
But the area discovered by Urvantsev's group was being inexorably depleted. In the 50s, conversations about the unprofitability plant and its impeding closing had begun. If the plant would cease to exist, so would the city.
But Norilsk decided it would not simply surrender and geological exploration and work resurged with triplicated force. In 1960, just 40 miles north, near the small river Talnah, geologists discovered a new deposit of copper-nickel ores, far superior in scale than the previous one. Talnaha's ores contain not only copper and nickel, but also many rare mineral elements, including the platinum group. The deposit is unique on a global level with enough material to last for decades.

Since then, industrial region of Norilsk sprouted numerous new mines, quarries, and factories. Industrial navigational channels, operating 24 hours a day, have been opened via Yenisei and the Northern Sea Route. And so, in the middle of the Arctic dessert, at the foothills of the mountains, the wonderful city stands firmly. A city without a single tree. A city that has healed my soul. A city to which I want to return. A post-polar oasis. Norilsk."

The Needles on the Alikel-Norilsk Road.

A typical landscape of Norilsk. Talnahskaya Street.

The square.

New buildings.

Comsomolskaya Street.

The first floor windows sometimes looks like this.

The television station neighborhood.

The Norilsk Post Polar Theater of Dramatic Arts. Perhaps the northernmost theater in the world.

The central bus station.

A typical front yard in the new part of the city.


Old buildings from the Stalin era.

The old buildings' facades are in critical condition. Half a century of
snow storms have had their effect.

The Square.


Snow caps. They may fall on careless pedestrians.

"Golgofa," a monument to the prisoners of "Noril-lag" (the Norilsk Gulag)

A memorial built at turn of the millennium for many in the country. No special evil has taken place here,
the prisoner mortality rate of the Noril-lag was slightly lower than the average gulag.

The road to the old city, a neighborhood near the Nikelebogo plant and "ground zero" at the foothills of
Shmidtiha and Rudnaya, the city's origin.

There are no residential buildings here, only industrial.

But some of the original construction remains.

The Nickel Plant. After the launch of "Nadejda" it would play a lesser part in the
technological line of "Norilsk nickel" but it remains operational.

A view of the plant from above.

Many buildings of the Old Norilsk are abandoned and covered in snow up to the second floor.


One of the first brick buildings, the firehouse.

The Old City.

And this is already the new city. The main street - Leninskiy (formerly Stalinskiy) Prospekt. It's worth noting that in
the past 20 years, not one street in Norilsk has had its name changed! In the background - the corporate office
of "Norilsk Nickel" and the tower of the institute.

A building and the attached monument to the construction workers that built Norilsk. The pile foundation technology on
permafrost was unavailable at a time. All these Stalin era buildings are constructed on rock material -
the permafronst underneath was removed for its entire 15 meter thickness.

The Palace of Culture.

Museum. (Formerly a movie theater named after Lenin)

Behind it stands a little wooden house, the first house in Norilsk. This hut was builtin 1921 by the expedition team of
Uravantsev at the "ground zero" and has been relocated three times along with the museum.

Uravantsev's room.

City landscape.

There're no problems with snow here. Except one... too much!

Stuck at the gas station exit. In the middle of the city, near the communications
building. Yes, it happens!

"Black Tulpan" - monument to international forces. It stands on a small hill, near a new micro-region.
A heavy region for snow storms and climate situations even though this part of the city is only 20 meters
higher than the rest. Here, kids don't go to school at -40 F and not -49 F like in the rest of Norilsk.

Sevactopolskaya Street. The first street of the modern Norilsk.

Laureate Street is considered to be the bleakest in the city.

Traffic jam on the Leninskiy Prospekt. Just like in your city...

There's a monumental train station at the edge of the city. But the northernmost electric train has been
cancelled some 10 years ago and from that time on, the Talnah-Norilsk-Dydinka railroad only carries cargo.

If you go up the Putoran mountain, you'll have an open view into the Norilsk hotbed. There was no wind on this day
and it was covered in steam and smoke from the many factories.

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