by The Associated Press, November 3, 2017
MOSCOW (AP) — With its high, thick walls and spiky towers, Moscow's Kremlin may seem like the epitome of an unassailable fortress. The Bolsheviks thought differently.
When word reached Moscow that the Bolsheviks had seized power in 1917, revolutionary troops began an assault on the Kremlin. The damage they inflicted with artillery fire is clear in a photo from those world-shaking days; the gates of the Nikolskaya Tower are badly askew and much of the tower's brickwork is blasted away.
A century later, the brickwork is restored, the mortar fastidiously pointed. The icon of St. Nikolai over the tower's gate, which was plastered over in the Soviet era, has been uncovered.
Photos comparing some of the Russian revolution's most notable locales and their contemporary appearance impart an uneasy sense of duality. The scenes then and now are both remarkably similar and somehow deeply different.
Two photos of Liteiny Prospekt show the same stretch of buildings — 19th-century apartment blocks in the elegant style that make the street one of St. Petersburg's most notable avenues. In 2017, a line of pedestrians in casually stylish clothes crosses the street; 100 years ago, that same crossing was manned by soldiers standing at a crude barricade.
On Moscow's Nikolskaya Street, soldiers marching 100 years ago carry a huge banner extolling "Communism." Today, tourists and shoppers have replaced the stern soldiers.
St. Petersburg's Palace Square is so little changed between then and now that only the imagination can replace the placid visitors of today with the angry crowds of a century ago.
In a half-dozen scenes compared by The Associated Press, one stands out for both physical and psychological contrasts. The scene in 1917 shows glum women queued outside a food store near Tverskaya Zastava Square in downtown Moscow, wrapped up against the chill. Today, that building is an upscale hotel.
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