Tashkent Earthquake 1966: Redevelopment with soviet ideology/Developing the city center as the politically important state

The area with the most severe attack was the central district, most of the pre-revolutionary structures were damaged(Bell, 1999), education institutes and housing were shattered into pieces, making 10 thousands citizens become homeless(Raab, 2017), as it was the most vulnerable zone for seismic dangers (ref to Fig 3.1). According to the General planning of Tashkent proposed by Tashiprogor, the city centre was developed as the administrative centre, that the area would be rebuilt and named as the Lenin Square, situated at the intersection of Bozsu Canal and Navoi Avenue, the epicentre of Tashkent(Bell, 1999) (Fig.3.2).

Fig 3.1 Seismic Profile of Tashkent city, developed by the Tashgiprogor Institute team. Translations in red by authors.
Source: Tashiprogor Institute Team. General plan of development of Tashkent
Fig 3.2. The central area of Tashkent, Independence Square( formerly known as Lenin Square) is situated at the epicentre of Tashkent. Source: Bell, James. “Redefining national identity in Uzbekistan: Symbolic Tensions in Tashkent’s Official Public Landscape.” Ecumene (continues as Cultural Geographies) 6, no.(2) (1999): 183-213.

Lenin Square was developed as a complex of boulevards, parking lots, main streets and transport hub. The territory had created an immense amount of open space, along with governmental glass and steel office towers, including the first skyscraper in Tashkent, making the space filled with architecture with internationalist design.  A museum honouring Lenin and theatre was built. As the government envisioned Tashkent as a city with garden, despite the fact that it is located near the desert area, a series of fountains were installed and greenery plants were placed surrounding the public building. The highlight of the area was the enormous 10-storey tall statue of Lenin, which the tallest representation of Soviet leader ever built in the USSR territory (Bell, 1999). It was placed at the central park (ref to Fig 3.3) of the Lenin square.

Fig 3.3 The landscaping project of the Revolution Square in Tashkent. General plan. 1926-1932 and the present satellite map of the revolution square Architect J.K. Haazenkopf. Watercolor, ink on paper, 20.4 × 18.8 cm. Source: https://mytashkent.uz/2019/04/17/skver-staryj-plan/

Due to the excessive amount of public building being placed at the centre of the city, new residential areas were developed in the outer ring (Fig 3.4), green stripes were used to divide the zones of Tashkent. However, as most of the citizens were still working in the city centre, it lengthened their travelling time and distance. In response to this, the government suggested developing a comprehensive transportation system, exemplified by high-speed transport lines to enhance the geographical mobility of citizens.

Fig. 3.4 1976 Tashkent Map. Translations in black by author. At the southern tip there is a district labelled as ‘Massive Satellite’.
Source: Main Directorate of Geodesy and Cartography at the Council of Ministers of the USSR, 1976.

Moving residential area to the suburb can undoubtedly prevent citizens from suffering damages again from the places that prone to have an earthquake. However, the Soviet government took advantage of that to develop a city centre instilled with socialism, neglecting the Uzbek traditional culture. The government made use of urban planning to surpass the nationalism of the Tashkent people. After the redevelopment, architectures with Uzbek cultural distinctiveness were lost (Bell, 1999). The redevelopment of Tashkent was undoubtedly one of the showcases of the Soviet government promoting patriotism, the brotherhood of nations and the strength of the socialist ideal.

Source:

Bell, James. “Redefining national identity in Uzbekistan: Symbolic Tensions in Tashkent’s Official Public Landscape.” Ecumene (continues as Cultural Geographies) 6, no.(2) (1999): 183-213.

коллективом института “Ташгипрогор”.Tashiprogor Institute Team. “Генеральный план города Ташкента” [General plan of development of Tashkent]. 1966. 

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