Barnaul is located in the southwest of Siberia by one of the country’s largest rivers, Ob’. It was founded in 1730 as a manufacturer of silver, which gave the city a special status and led to rapid growth. It became a major center for trade and culture, especially after the construction of the railroad in early 20th century.
By 1917 the city had 70 000 inhabitants. This was the time of a large construction boom in the city. However, half the city was destroyed by a fire and the rest was weakened by revolution. Barnaul began to grow again in 1940s, when major factories moved from the west to escape German invasion. Since 1950s the city began to take its modern shape and expand quickly, impeded only by the political changes in 1990s. Today the city is experiencing a large construction boom once again, and tens of highrise buildings are towering up to the clouds, changing the city's skyline.