The Moscow Metro has recently started broadcasting short films on curious and unusual facts from the city history. Every video is no longer than one and a half minutes. From these videos, passengers will be able to learn how Muscovites greeted Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, after his triumphal return to Earth back in 1961, how the Fiztech metro station ended up on the Moscow Metro maps 22 years ago, and which monument was nicknamed “a bearded fridge”.
These videos are broadcast in every metro train carriage equipped with monitors (today, there are 8,700 of them). The city has made several dozen videos that will be available on trains until the end of the year. These broadcasts are held as part of the Moscow Metro’s large-scale Hello, Moscow educational project.
“We wanted to share the most interesting facts about Moscow – this includes legends, curious facts and fascinating stories that can help people get to know the city a little better,” said Oksana Bondarenko, curator of the Hello, Moscow project. “One of the videos in the history category is dedicated to Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. Not many people know how Muscovites greeted the “space” motorcade that drove down Leninsky Prospekt on 14 April 1961. This took place two days after Gagarin’s return to Earth. People would climb up on roofs and trees to catch a glimpse of the legendary cosmonaut; many held posters that said “The space is ours”. Photographers also captured a picture of one Muscovite with a humorous poster saying I Bagsy Number Two.”
Another video is dedicated to the history of the monument to Karl Marx, which is located on Teatralnaya Square. The shape of the monument (Marx is depicted standing at the rostrum with only the upper part of his body visible) inspired Soviet film and theatre actress Faina Ranevskaya to nickname it “a bearded fridge”. Interestingly, despite the fact that its foundation was laid in 1920, in the presence of Vladimir Lenin, the monument was only made and unveiled in 1961, 40 years later and in the presence of Nikita Khrushchev.
Another video was inspired by a joke of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology students. In 1996, they spread a rumour about a new Fiztech station allegedly being built on the Moscow Metro’s grey line after the Altufyevo station. The students plotted to print out and spread fake metro maps that featured the non-existent metro station located next to their university. Several naïve Moscow publishing houses instantly bought this idea, going as far as printing city guides that featured the Fiztech metro station as fully operational. Curiously, this joke is about to come true: this is the name the city is planning to give to a new metro station in the Severny District.
A whole team of specialists, such as historians, art critics and experts on Moscow history, worked on the content of this project, Bondarenko stated. TEFI award winner and host of the Made in Moscow TV programme Vladimir Rayevsky became the author and curator of the first themed cluster of the project, while journalist Alexandra Zapoyeva worked on the screenplays. All videos can be found on the project’s official website.
Previously, within the framework of the Hello, Moscow project, the city put up information posters at 150 metro stations. The posters feature historical facts about the city: they state, for instance, how many donut-shaped buildings there are in Moscow, or what the metal vaults of the Mayakovskaya station have in common with airships. From the billboards set up in the escalator tunnels of seven Moscow Metro stations, passengers can also learn more about the city’s urban legends.
Within the framework of the Hello, Moscow project to be carried out within a total of 10 months, the city will be putting up posters featuring information from four categories (Moscow History, Moscow Cinema, Moscow Music and Moscow Literature and Theatres). The information for the project was compiled by respected historians, Moscow history experts and art critics. The posters on the history of Moscow will be available until the end of this year. After that, the city will put up new posters – this time around, on the movies filmed in Moscow.
The Hello, Moscow project is not the only educational project launched by the Moscow Metro. At the Rasskazovka station, passengers can access the metro’s QR-coded online library, which features works by famous Russian and foreign authors, including Alexander Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy, Marina Tsvetayeva, Mark Twain, Jack London, George Sand and many others. To download a book, users scan a QR code using their smartphone camera or a special code-scanning mobile app. This online library can also be accessed at Chekhovskaya, Dostoyevskaya and Biblioteka Imeni Lenina metro stations.