I suppose we’ll have to settle for … bottom left.


Time does not fly when you’re reading cornerstone-sized tomes, but in the middle of Week Seven, there’s light at the end of a humongous arched entryway in the building ostensibly being profiled: The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution, by Yuri Slezkine.

Sorry, CM Barksdale: the book’s about the people living in the colossal structure, not the bricks and mortar itself. In 1931, at roughly the same time this building was completed, the church down the way was demolished to make way for progress, Stalinist-style.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

 … The original church, built during the 19th century, took more than 40 years to build, and was the scene of the 1882 world premiere of the 1812 Overture composed by Tchaikovsky. It was destroyed in 1931 on the order of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The demolition was supposed to make way for a colossal Palace of the Soviets to house the country’s legislature, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Construction started in 1937 but was halted in 1941 when Germany invaded the Soviet Union during World War II. Its steel frame was disassembled the following year, and the Palace was never built.

It never happened, and it was left to the Genius of the Carpathians, ill-fated Romanian despot Nicolae Ceaușescu, to erect the biggest damn Commie building of all — not cloud-piercing skyscraper, but the Palace of the Parliament (formerly House of the Republic).

Stalin may not have gotten his Soviet palace, but Ceaușescu got his, good and hard after a show trial (template: Koba).

Why Joseph Stalin Never Got His Soviet Palace, by William O’Connor (The Daily Beast)

… The final designs for the palace were terrifying. The structure was a pyramidal skyscraper made up of seven ascending concentric cylinders. Each of those hulking cylinders was to “be decorated with allegorical sculptures of heroes of the Soviet epoch.”

Crowning this monstrosity was no less than a 328-foot statue of the deceased Vladimir Lenin.

Work on the Palace began in 1938, with the government spending roughly $18.9 million to get it started. The Soviets declared that it would open on Nov. 7, 1942, the 25th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution, leading even The New York Times to snicker and write, “The building cannot possibly be completed by that date.”

The base of the building was to be 460 feet in diameter. It would be filled with offices, museums, restaurants, and a main hall with a capacity of 20,000.

It was also to have 148 elevators and 62 escalators. According to Time there would also be a library with 500,000 books.

The base was to be made of marble and granite, the rest of the building clad in a purple-red tufa (a type of limestone) from the Caucasus, and the statue would be made of aluminum or chrome steel.

Due to its height up in the clouds, engineers “estimated that on only ninety days out of the year will the head of the Lenin statue be clearly visible from the ground.”

The foundations were completed and the steel frame for the lower levels put in place, but alas, WWII got in the way. In 1942 the steel frame was dismantled to provide steel for the Red Army and more urgent infrastructure projects.

As a point of comparison, note that a 328-foot tall statue of Jeff Gahan would be taller than Riverview Tower, which is merely ≈ 190 feet.