Chelyabinsk is situated at the very heart of Russia’s Lake District, among picturesque pine forests and birch groves on an Eastern Ural mountainside. Its past and present development has been considerably affected by its geography: situated on the boundary between Europe and Asia, Chelyabinsk is a convenient transportation gateway to Siberia, Central Asia, and the Far East.
Although the prehistory of Chelyabinsk can be traced back to the 17th century, its official foundation date is September 1736. For many decades it was the administrative and commercial center of the region and one of numerous nodes in trans-Eurasian commodity flows. A historic turning point came in 1892 when the Moscow–Samara–Zlatoust–Chelyabinsk railroad was completed. Very soon Chelyabinsk became a major railway junction and an active business center with highly developed links to other regions.
From the 1920 to the 1940s Soviet industrialization and the economic impacts of World War II accelerated the industrial and social development of the “Capital of the South Urals”. Since then Chelyabinsk has become well-known for its gigantic metallurgical and machine-building enterprises. In the field of architecture this was a period of large-scale reconstruction schemes, with functionalist and neo-classical tendencies.
During the second half of the 20th century Chelyabinsk grew even more rapidly. In 1976 its population reached one million citizens. In spite of the centralized standardization of Soviet architectural stylistics, those decades are recognizable by remarkable buildings and well-implemented engineering ideas.
At the dawn of the 21st century Chelyabinsk, like the rest of Russia, is greatly influenced by market-style reforms and post-industrial developments. The economic, financial, scientific and cultural center of the South Urals faces the future with confidence, expressed by its new architectural image.