Theme Week Moscow – GUM department store on the Red Square

Wednesday, 2 July 2014 - 01:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Shopping
Reading Time:  5 minutes

© Otets/cc-by-sa-3.0-lu

© Otets/cc-by-sa-3.0-lu

GUM (an abbreviation of the Russian Glavnyi Universalnyi Magazin; literally “main universal store”) is the name of the main department store in many cities of the former Soviet Union, known as State Department Store during the Soviet times. Similarly named stores were found in some Soviet republics and post-Soviet states. The most famous GUM is the large store in the Kitay-gorod part of Moscow facing Red Square, opposite of the Lenin Mausoleum and the Kremlin. It is currently a shopping mall. Prior to the 1920s, the location was known as the Upper Trading Rows. Nearby, also facing Red Square, is a building very similar to GUM, known formerly as the Middle Trading Rows. It is about the same size as a large North American shopping mall.

With the façade extending for 794 ft (242 m) along the eastern side of Red Square, the Upper Trading Rows were built between 1890 and 1893 by Alexander Pomerantsev (responsible for architecture) and Vladimir Shukhov (responsible for engineering). The trapezoidal building features an interesting combination of elements of Russian medieval architecture and a steel framework and glass roof. William Craft Brumfield described the GUM building as “a tribute both to Shukhov’s design and to the technical proficiency of Russian architecture toward the end of the 19th century”. The glass-​roofed design made the building unique at the time of construction. The roof, the diameter of which is 46 ft (14 m), looks light, but it is a firm construction made of more than 50,000 metal pods (about 819 short tons (743 t), capable of supporting snowfall accumulation. Illumination is provided by huge arched skylights of iron and glass, each weighing some 820 short tons (740 t) and containing in excess of 20,000 panes of glass. The facade is divided into several horizontal tiers, lined with red Finnish granite, Tarusa marble, and limestone. Each arcade is on three levels, linked by walkways of reinforced concrete.

© Tarkovsky/cc-by-2.0-tr © A.Savin/cc-by-sa-3.0 © flickr.com - Josef F. Stuefer/cc-by-2.0 © Vcarceler/cc-by-sa-3.0 GUM in 1893 © gum.ru © Otets/cc-by-sa-3.0-lu
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© flickr.com - Josef F. Stuefer/cc-by-2.0
Catherine II of Russia commissioned Giacomo Quarenghi, a Neoclassical architect from Italy, to design a huge trade center along the east side of Red Square. The existing structure was built to replace the previous trading rows that had been designed by Joseph Bove after the 1812 Fire of Moscow. By the time of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the building contained some 1,200 stores. After the Revolution, the GUM was nationalised. GUM continued to be used as a department store until Joseph Stalin converted it into office space in 1928 for the committee in charge of his first Five Year Plan. After reopening as a department store in 1953, the GUM became one of the few stores in the Soviet Union that did not have shortages of consumer goods, and the queues of shoppers were long, often extending entirely across Red Square. It is still open nowadays, and is a popular tourist destination for those visiting Moscow. Many of the stores feature fashionable brand names familiar in the West; locals refer to these as the “exhibitions of prices”, the joke being that no one could afford actually to buy any of the items displayed.

There is a similar historic department store that rivals GUM in size, elegance, and opulent architecture named Central Universal Store (Tsentralniy Universalniy Magazin, abbreviated as TsUM). It sprawls just east of the Bolshoi Theatre.

Read more on GUM department store and Wikipedia GUM department store (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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