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Residential buildings on Khoroshevskoe highway. Photo by E. Evzerikhin. June 1, 1949. Main Archive of Moscow

The townspeople proposed to rebuild the cut through arches into living quarters. However, this was not easy to achieve.

The housing issue was one of the most pressing topics of the post-war period. This is evidenced by the documents Main Archivethat have preserved references to the ingenuity and resilience of citizens. For example, stories in the struggle for arches.

In 1949, the population of Moscow exceeded pre-war values, while the fourth five-year reconstruction plan for the commissioning of new housing did not meet the needs of citizens. In addition, the military evacuation brought its own changes – many people who did not live in the city before and did not have their own housing, were forced to endure poor conditions.

Then the townspeople proposed an original way to solve the problem – to turn arches into living quarters, since in the capital there were many houses with cut through arches. The main criterion for such a rework was the failure to use the arch for its intended purpose (it should not have been used for passage). However, it was necessary to provide evidence to various authorities. The documents of the Moscow City Council for the period from 1946 to the 1950s have preserved many similar stories.

The package of documents for the arched reconstruction was voluminous: the future tenant was required to write a statement to the chairman of the Moscow City Executive Committee and obtain his permission. Certificates from the place of work were needed, as well as certificates of the state of health of a citizen and the whole family, a petition from the executive committee of the relevant district council, permission from the State Inspection and Fire Service, a district architect and the Moscow Housing Administration.

Any missing document from the list could jeopardize the whole case. There were also the opposite situations. Thus, a certificate on the health status of the sister of an employee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, suffering from tuberculosis, helped the citizens, who lived together in a damp basement, to achieve the restructuring of the arch, and therefore to find warm housing.

There are also stories about the resilience of citizens in the apartment struggle, faced with bureaucracy. The family of four was forced to live in a wooden shed in an archway. The father of the family applied for the restructuring, but this was refused due to the strong shade of the yard. The citizen did not give up, he filed a complaint about the increased fire hazard due to the building of the arch and courtyard with dilapidated wooden sheds. The State Fire Supervision Service immediately reacted to this statement and demanded to demolish the sheds. Then the Muscovite secured the signatures of the residents of the house (which was very important) and received the approval of the district architect, despite numerous comments on the restructuring. After that, the Moscow Housing Administration finally allowed to redo the arch.

There are many similar “arch cases” in the history of Moscow’s development. Thanks to them, you can find out how life was in the capital in the post-war years.

The Glavarkhiv contains photographs dated 1946-1949. For example, they capture the meeting of residents with a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the development of Khoroshevsky highway. There are also archival photographs of new houses on Gorky Street (now Tverskaya), and a photo of a residential building for employees of the 1st State Automobile Plant named after Joseph Stalin.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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