The Best Russian Books in English

Forget War and Peace: this blog offers reviews of fun and interesting Russian books in English, links to their Amazon pages, interviews with new and upcoming Russian authors, with the emphasis on Russian genre fiction: LitRPG, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, romance, mystery and other popular reads.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

First traffic lights in Russia

The first traffic lights in Russia started functioning on January 15, 1930 in Leningrad, on the corner of Nevski and Liteyny Prospects (a "prospect" is just a borrowed Russian word for an avenue). It was followed by two installations in Moscow, one on December 30 1930, on the corner of Petrovka Street and Kuznetski Most ("Blacksmiths Bridge"), the other in 1932 on the corner of Kuznetski Most and Neglinnaya Street (named after the Neglinka River, literally, "swampy").

Guess what the first Russian traffic lights looked like?

Now isn't it just cute?

It worked just like a clock, with the hand moving around the dial which had the added plus of being able to see how much time you had left to cross the street.

Prior to that, in 1926 in Moscow, six hand-operated semaphores had been installed. Normally, traffic policemen regulated all the busy crossroads.

Already in 1934 in Moscow, traffic lights look more familiar:

By 1935, there were over a hundred traffic lights in Moscow alone. Still, until the early 1960s, the figure of a traffic policeman ordering cars around with his baton was very common at most Russian crossroads... when they had something to order around, of course, because until the end of the Soviet era, most Russian roads were the opposite of busy.


  1. Hi Victoria,

    I'm very happy you liked it. I love Asia so I'll be around!

    Being a cultural junkie is the best addiction there is, IMHO :-)


  2. There was a wonderful set of traffic lights when I was in St Pete (I wish I could remember which street it was, I can see it clearly but forget the name) whose lights worked in opposition to each other.

    That's not to say that one set was green when the other was red - no, if one set was red, the other was green and amber. If one was amber, the other was green and red... and so on.

  3. Thanks! That's interesting. Red and amber together is quite common in Russia -- or at least used to be, to help people differentiate between amber going to turn green and amber going to turn red. Or something like that. So it's possible it was something of the kind... or maybe it was a turning signal, red for those going straight across and additional green for those making a turn.