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Saratov(sərä`təf), city (1991 est. pop. 910,000), capital of Saratov region, E European Russia, on the Volga River. It is a major industrial, transportation, and cultural center of the lower Volga region. Its river port is a transfer point for the agricultural products of the lower Volga valley and for petroleum from Bakı. Saratov's industries produce precision instruments, building materials, machine tools, and electric generators. There are oil refineries, flour mills, sawmills, furniture and chemical factories, and gas plants. A bridge built in 1965 spans the Volga. The city was founded c.1590 as a Russian sentry post on the Volga. Although its military importance declined in the 18th cent., the city retained significance for its river trade. In the late 19th cent. railroad construction tied Saratov to central European Russia. The city has a museum and a university named in honor of the literary critic N. G. Chernyshevsky, who was born there.
a city and administrative center of Saratov Oblast, RSFSR. A major river port, center of a network of highways, and railroad junction of lines to Moscow, Volgograd, Kazan, Ural’sk, and Astrakhan. Situated on the right bank of the Volga. Population, 834,000 (1975; 137,000 in 1897, 212,000 in 1926, 372,000 in 1939, 579,000 in 1959, 757,000 in 1970). The city is divided into six raions.
Saratov was founded in 1590 as a fortress city designed to protect the Volga route from nomad raids. In 1616, after a fire, it was moved to the left bank of the Volga. During the peasant war of 1670 and 1671, the inhabitants of Saratov surrendered the city and lent assistance to S. T. Razin’s detachments. Moved to the right bank on government orders in 1674, the city quickly became a major point of transshipment for land and water trading routes and a center for the fish and salt trade. In 1774 it was captured by E. I. Pugachev’s forces, whom many inhabitants of the city joined. In 1708, Saratov was in Kazan Province; later it formed part of Astrakhan Province. In 1780 it became the administrative center of a namestnichestvo (vice-gerency), and in 1797, of Saratov Province.
The first Russian tobacco factory was opened in Saratov in 1828. In the second half of the 19th century the city witnessed a rapid growth of industry, mainly steam-powered flour mills and vegetable-oil extraction plants. It became a major center for the grain trade and for flour milling in the Lower Volga Region (flour production exceeded 3 million poods [1 pood = 16.38 kg] per year in the early 20th century). In 1871, Saratov was linked by rail with Tambov.
Narodnik (Populist) circles were active in Saratov in the 1870’s. The first Social Democratic circle appeared in 1898, and a Social Democratic committee was formed in 1901. In December 1905, there was a soviet of workers’ deputies. Soviet power was established in the city on Oct. 27 (Nov. 9), 1917. In 1928, Saratov became administrative center of Lower Volga Krai, and in 1934, of Saratov Krai. It became the oblast administrative center in 1936.
N. G. Chernyshevskii was born and died in Saratov. The Ul’-ianov family lived in the city from 1910 to 1913, and the writer K. A. Fedin was born here.
Today, Saratov is one of the major industrial centers of the country and an important center for machine building. During the prewar five-year plans, an industrial base was created that produced agricultural machinery, engines, accumulators, construction equipment, equipment for the food-processing industry, various spare parts, and, on the eve of the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), metal-cutting machine tools and bearings. The postwar years saw growth in the manufacture of electrical apparatus, measuring instruments, household appliances, and equipment used in, for example, the textile, leather-goods, footwear, and chemical industries.
There is an aircraft plant, which engages in lot production of the Iak-40 airplane. Petroleum refining is represented by the S. M. Kirov Refinery, built in the 1930’s, and the chemical industry by a chemical combine (now the Nitron Production Association). In addition to brickyards, there are plants producing such building materials as keramzit (artificial porous filler), structural reinforced concrete, and prefabricated structural components. Saratov has one of the USSR’s largest plants for polished glass and glass with technical applications. There is also a meat-packing plant, a combine for processing animal fat, a milk plant, milling and hulling plants, vegetable-oil mills, a factory producing macaroni products, and a confectionery factory. Other goods produced by the city include leather goods, footwear, clothing, and knitwear. There is also a printing combine. Power is supplied by the Saratov Hydroelectric Power Plant, local thermoelectric power plants, and gas from local deposits. In 1965 the Volga was spanned by a highway bridge.
The general plan of 1810 provided the central sections of Saratov with a regular layout. Today the city stretches along the Volga for almost 30 km. Architectural monuments include the Troitskii Cathedral (1689–95, Naryshkin style; parvis and refectory from the mid-18th century), civic buildings and residences in the style of classicism, and a covered market (1910–15, architect V. A. Liukshin, art nouveau). Saratov has been modernized during the period of Soviet power (the master plan put into effect in 1952 was replaced by a new plan in 1974). The landscaped Leninskii and Zavodskoi raions have been built, work has been done on the esplanade along the Volga, and large public buildings have been constructed. At present, large-scale housing construction is under way.
Among Saratov’s many monuments are the monument To the Fighters of the Revolution of 1905 (granite, 1925, sculptor B. D. Korolev), the monument To the Fighters of the October Revolution of 1917 (cement, 1957, sculptor V. I. Perfilov; eternal flame, 1967), the N. G. Chernyshevskii Monument (bronze and granite, unveiled 1953, architect N. P. Grishin, sculptor A. P. Kibal’nikov), and the V. I. Lenin Monument (bronze, 1970, architect Iu. I. Meniakin, sculptor A. P. Kibal’nikov).
Saratov is a major cultural center. Its ten higher educational institutions are the University of Saratov, the Saratov Conservatory, polytechnical, agricultural, and zooveterinary institutes, an institute of mechanization in agriculture, and institutes of economics, law, medicine, and pedagogy. There are 22 specialized secondary schools. Museums include a museum of local lore, the Memorial Apartment-Museum of the Ul’ianov family (a branch of the oblast museum of local lore), the A. N. Radish-chev Saratov Art Museum, and the N. G. Chernyshevskii House-Museum.
Other cultural establishments include (1974) the N. G. Chernyshevskii Saratov Theater of Opera and Ballet, the K. Marx Saratov Dramatic Theater, the Saratov Young People’s Theater, the Teremok Puppet Theater, a circus, and a philharmonic society.
In 1972 there were 36 hospitals, with 9,000 beds (12.1 beds per 1,000 inhabitants), compared with 20 hospitals, with 4,400 beds (11.5 beds per 1,000 inhabitants) in 1940. There were 4,500 doctors, or one doctor per 148 inhabitants (1,400 doctors, or one doctor per 255 inhabitants, in 1940), and 9,700 middle-level medical workers (2,000 in 1940). The city’s institute of medicine, which was founded in 1930, has departments of therapeutics and pediatrics. There are also scientific research institutes concerned with traumatology and orthopedics (founded 1945) and rural hygiene (founded 1931). In the environs of the city, there is a sanatorium for adults and four for children.
REFERENCESOcherki istorii saratovskoi organizatsii KPSS, parts 1–2. Saratov, 1957–65.
Il’in, B. I. Saratov: Istoricheskii ocherk. Saratov, 1952.
Malinin, G. A. Pamiatniki i pamiatnye mesta Saratovskoi oblasti [2nd ed.]. Saratov, 1971.
Malinin, G. A. Saratov: Kratkii ocherk-putevoditel’. Saratov, 1974.