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Arkhangelsk (ərkhänˈgĭlsk) or Archangel (ärkˈānˌjəl), city (1990 est. 418,000), NW European Russia, on the Northern Dvina near its mouth at the White Sea. Although icebound much of the year, it is a leading Russian port and can generally be made usable by icebreakers. Timber and wood products make up the bulk of the exports. The city has factories producing pulp and paper, turpentine, resin, cellulose, building materials, and prefabricated houses. Fishing and shipbuilding are also major industries. It is the terminus of both the Northern Sea Route and the Baltic-White Sea Canal, which was built by slave labor. Once the site of a Norse settlement, the city was founded (1584) as Novo-Kholmogory; it was renamed (1613) for the monastery of the Archangel Michael (which still stands). Arkhangelsk was Russia's principal port until the founding of Saint Petersburg in 1703; it regained importance after the rail line to Moscow was completed in 1898. A supply port during World War I, Arkhangelsk was occupied from 1918 to 1920 by Allied forces (including Americans) and by the White Army; it served as their base for unsuccessful campaigns against the Bolsheviks. During World War II, U.S. and British shipments landed at Arkhangelsk. The city has a maritime school (1771), a regional museum (1859), and institutes of forestry and medicine.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



city, center of Arkhangel’sk Oblast, RSFSR. It is located on both sides of the Severnaia Dvina and on the islands of the delta. It is one of the largest sea and river ports of the USSR and a railroad center. The population was 343,000 in 1970; it was 20,000 in 1897, 48,000 in 1917, 76,800 in 1926, and 251,000 in 1939. The city is divided into four city raions.

Historical survey. The construction of Arkhangel’sk began by decree of Ivan IV in 1584. It was originally called Novokholmogory. In 1613 it was named Arkhangel’skii (after the Monastery of the Archangel Michael, founded in the 12th century, with a settlement and a wharf at the mouth of the Severnaia Dvina). Later it became Arkhangel’sk. Arkhangel’sk was the first seaport through which Russia had contact with England and other Western European countries. In 1693, Peter I the Great built a wharf on Solombala Island and founded the Admiralty. Between 1701 and 1705 the Novodvinsk Fortress was built on the Korabl’ mouth of the river (19 km from Arkhangel’sk; now within the city limits). In 1708, Arkhangel’sk Province was formed. From the late 16th century on, Arkhangel’sk had a fair—a major center for exchange with foreign merchants; the trade amounted to about 2 million rubles in 1785. In the early 19th century, Arkhangel’sk had 219 industrial enterprises, mostly of the handicraft type. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Arkhangel’sk became an important lumber-industry and lumber-export center in Russia. In 1914 there were 26 sawmills employing a total of 11,000 workers. In 1898 the city was connected with Moscow by a railroad through Vologda. In tsarist times Arkhangel’sk was a place of political exile. In 1898 political exiles formed social democratic circles; in late 1903 they formed the Arkhangel’sk RSDLP committee. On Feb. 17, 1918, Soviet power was established in Arkhangel’sk. On Aug. 2, 1918, the city was occupied by British, American, and French interventionist forces. In November 1918 an underground Bolshevik committee was set up in Arkhangel’sk; the committee took the lead in the fight against the interventionist troops and White Guard. Many Communists died in the struggle, and about 200 people were tortured at Mud’iug, the “Island of Death.” In September 1919 the interventionist troops were forced to evacuate the city. On Feb. 21, 1920, the Red Army liberated Arkhangel’sk from the White Guard. Arkhangel’sk became the center of Northern Krai in 1929, of Northern Oblast in 1936, and of Arkhangel’sk Oblast in 1937. M. V. Lomonosov was born near Arkhangel’sk.

Arkhangel’sk played an important role in the exploration of the arctic and the Northern Sea Route. The expeditions of V. A. Rusanov, A. M. Sibiriakov, G. Ia. Sedov, and others set out from the city. In 1932 the icebreaker Sibiriakov completed the first nonstop run on the Northern Sea Route.

Economy. Arkhangel’sk is the most important lumber-industry and lumber-export center of the USSR. Its favorable geographical location—near the White Sea and at the mouth of the Severnaia Dvina, the basin of which has great timber resources—led to the development of the lumber industries (sawmilling, pulp and paper, hydrolysis, the production of sawdust and composition board, and so forth). About half of all the city’s workers are employed in the lumber industries. Several large enterprises have been built: the Solombala (1935) and Arkhangel’sk (1940) pulp and paper combines; and the Solombala Isiglomen’, and other sawmilling and lumber-processing combines. About two-thirds of the output of Arkhangel’sk sawmilling is exported. The Arkhangel’sk-Karpogory railroad for the export of lumber from the Onega and Mezen’ forests has been under construction since 1970.

Other important industries are shipbuilding (freighters, fishing boats, and others) and ship repairing; the largest enterprise is the Krasnaia Kuznitsa Plant. The machine-building plants supply mainly the lumber, sawmilling, and lumber-processing industries; they produce welding machines, lumber trucks, and so forth. Other industries are the building materials and food industries (fish- and meat-processing combines, and so forth), a seaweed-processing combine, and the production of knitted goods and footwear.

Architecture. The first stone buildings—the Gostinyi dvor (Merchants’ Arcade), built in 1668–84 (architect D. M. Startsev), and the Novodvinsk fortress—determined the character of Arkhangel’sk as a fortress. Since 1794, Arkhangel’sk has been built up according to a regular scheme with buildings in the classical style. (A rope factory of the early 19th century, architect A.D. Zakharov, has been preserved.) There are monuments to M. V. Lomonosov (1826—29, sculptor I. P. Martos) and Peter I the Great (1872, sculptor M. M. Antokol’skii, unveiled in 1914). As late as the first decades of the 20th century, most of the buildings in the city were made of wood; today few of them remain.

Under the Soviet regime, in accordance with the general plans of 1950 and 1963, the city’s territory has been expanded, new residential quarters (Kuznechikha Raion, 1963–66, architects V. M. Kibirev and others) and public buildings have been built, and city improvement and landscaping projects have been carried out.

Educational institutions and culture. Arkhangel’sk has lumber engineering, medical, and pedagogical institutes, a correspondence division of the Leningrad Higher School of Marine Engineering, 16 specialized secondary educational institutions (including a navigation school founded in 1771), a hydrographic station of the Northern Sea Route, a museum of regional studies founded in 1859, a fine arts museum founded in 1960, a drama theater, a puppet theater, and a circus.


Kibirev, M. F. Arkhangel’sk. Arkhangel’sk, 1959.
Seleznev, A. G. Arkhangel’sk i ego okrestnosti: Putevoditel’. Arkhangel’sk, 1967.
Bor’baza torzhestvo Sovetskoi vlasti na Severe. (Collection of documents.) Arkhangel’sk, 1967.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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