People populated the territory of modern Zaporizhia in olden times.The Cimmerians, Scythians and Huns left behind numerous sights in the form of burial mounds. For the Slavs living in the vicinity of the way “from the Varangians to the Greeks” it was the boundary where battles with nomads took place. However, Zaporizhia, the locality “beyond the rapids,” became really famous when the Cossacks, free people, came to this land. In 1770 Alexander’s forstadt was founded in this territory, which was to become part of the Dnieper line protecting the empire from the Tatars and… Zaporozhian Cossacks. This fact notwithstanding, in 1775 the Sich, and in 1785 the fortress, were liquidated, and the town of Alexandrovsk continued to grow into an important economic center. In 1921 its name, because of political “dissonance,” was changed for Zaporizhia. The fate of the city radically changed in 1927, when the first stone of the Dnieper hydroelectric power station was laid. In 1932 the station began to work, and since then Zaporizhia has become an important industrial and scientific center of Eastern Europe. This land suffered heavy human losses during the famine of 1932-33. Today the state of ecology remains an important problem for the area.
On the right bank, at the entrance from the side of Dnipropetrovsk there is a district known as the Upper Khortytsia-Rozental, the former colony of the German-Mennonites. In 1910 the natural history teacher of their school, Peter Buzuk, founded a nature protection society, the first one in the Russian empire. However, the main point of interest in the settlement is the 700-year-old oak under which, pursuant to a legend, the Zaporozhian Cossacks wrote the famous letter to the Turkish sultan (trafficator to the oak is located at the crossroads of H.Skovoroda and Zachinaev streets). At best times the diameter of its crown made up 63 meters, the circumference of the trunk, 6 m. 32 cm., and the height, 36 meters. Now attempts are being made to save this memorial of nature and history of which only one living branch remains. Next to the oak the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin has been built on money of modern Ukrainian patrons of art.
Zaporizhia consists of a number of historical parts. The largest of them -Oieksandrivskand “Sotsmisto” (Socialist city) – are situated on the left bank of the Dnieper. In 1963 they were connected with a kilometer-long causeway. They banter that it was rammed with the help of the most reliable and cheapest method – the feet of Komsomol members. Thus appeared V. Lenin Avenue, the longest highway of the city, which runs for at least 12 km. from the railway station “Zapo-izhia-1,” built in 1953, to Lenin Square, in which there is a 20-meter-high monument to Lenin with the hand pointing to the Dniprohes named after Lenin.
In spite of the widespread stereotypes that architectural monuments are almost absent in the city, a number of old, the so-called “profitable” houses have been preserved in the vicinity of Lenin Avenue. One of them is the dwelling-house of Bodovskv (59V. Lenin Ave.) built in 1880-1882. Its architecture is distinguished for the decorative plasticity of the facade and the use of different styles. Now it is the city student policlinic. The building of the Zemstvo council built in 1913-1915 belongs to the best examples of administrative architecture (also known as the nobility assembly). Today it is occupied by the Museum of Local Lore. Not far away, in 62 Gogol St., there is the building of the former female gymnasium.
While staying in Zaporozhia you will have an opportunity to become acquainted with the original forms of industrial architecture. In 1910-1911, in the former Katerynoslavska St. (today 73 Gorky St.), there was built the city electric power station after the project of members of the Kharkiv Russian engineers society in eclectic style of romantic trend with elements of pseudo-Gothic. Its facade is decorated with large Venetian windows and tower-domes covered with zinc plates.
A curious traveler will be impressed with the so-called Sotsmisto (Socialist city), which was built concurrently with the Dniprohes dam. The remains of the buildings in style of “Soviet functionalism” are located mainly near V. Lenin Avenue. Their external decoration in the form of sickles, hammers, and figures of workers and peasants looks originally enough against the background of the present-day capitalization of Zaporizhia. The nine-storied tower with a spire (1948-49, arch. I. Kozliner, L.Gershovich: 222 V. Lenin Ave.) and the School the Giant (today Engineering academy; 226 V. Lenin Ave.) are interesting architectural symbols of the epoch.
Zaporozhian bridges spanning the Dnieper are really unique. Their height above the water is the highest in Ukraine. The bridge spanning Khortytsia Island and the right bank of the Old Dnieper for a long time was considered the longest one-arched bridge of Europe. Now the building of other bridges across Khortytsia Island is going on, which gives certain concern to ecologists and historians.
The Dniprohes (the Dnieper Hydroelectric Power Station) is a unique creation of the engineering thought of the 20th century. As part of the Soviet plan of electrification, the station that started to operate in October 1932, played an important role in transformation of the USSR into a powerful industrial country. The damming of the Dnieper made the river navigable through. The American Guy Cooper who had designed and built the hydroelectric power stations on the Niagara and Mississippi rivers was invited as a consultant. He approved the project offered by the engineer I.AIeksan-drov. Construction work under the direction of Alexander-William Winter began in 1927. The project was realized at the cost of hard, selfless work of thousands of workers.
The bow-shaped dam of the Dniprohes appeared in the narrowest canyon of the Dnieper (760 m.), the so-called Wolf estuary. The building of the control room was decorated with rosy Armenian tuff. In spite of an obvious economic advantage, one of the negative consequences of the construction was the partial submergence of Khortytsia Island and unique historical memorials. In 1956-58 the creation of the artificial Kakhovka Sea had a negative effect on the climate, and resulted in salinization of soil. The road running on the dam can be passed by trolleybus, car or on foot. From the road you will have a nice view of Zaporozhian Sich which is under reconstruction today.