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Notes on the Geography of Uzbekistan: Soviet Tashkent

Much of Tashkent looks like one of those college campuses that sprang up in the 1960s--groups of boxes scattered on a lawn. In Tashkent's case, the explanation is the earthquake of April 26, 1966.  Over the next three years, the city built more than 900 multistory buildings. 

For more of the results, see T. Kadyrova, Tashkent, 1977.

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Uzbekistan: Soviet Tashkent picture 1

The administrative city of the country is Lenin Square--oops! Independence Square (Mustaqillik Maydoni).  Until the 1930s, it was Cathedral Square.  Kadyrova describes it as "a "highly impressive spatial environment."  The tower, begun in 1966 and finished in 1974 to a design by L. Adamov and others, was the Uzbek SSR Ministries Bldg.  On the far side of the fountain is a Tiananmen-scaled plaza now bereft of its towering statue of Lenin. 

Uzbekistan: Soviet Tashkent picture 2

The trim lines on the sides of the building faintly echo the turquoise ornament of previous centuries.

Uzbekistan: Soviet Tashkent picture 3

Completed in 1970, this is the Tashkent Branch of the Central Lenin Museum--oops! the State Fine Arts Museum.  Like so many American buildings of the period, it's wrapped in sun-screening panels, in this case of marble.

Uzbekistan: Soviet Tashkent picture 4

The Exhibition Pavilion of the Artists' Union of Uzbekistan was built in 1974 and has other hints of tradition, not only in the arches but in the patterning on the walls, which is reminiscent of the old technique of covering walls with alternating glazed and bisqued tiles.  It's called banai, and there's lot of it in Samarkand.

Uzbekistan: Soviet Tashkent picture 5

No hint of anything indigenous: the pre-earthquake headquarters of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan, 1964. 

Uzbekistan: Soviet Tashkent picture 6

The Uzbekistan Hotel, designed by L. Yershova and others and opened in 1974.  This side looks over a circular park with an equestrian statue of Tamerlane.  Before 1993, guests gazed down on the top of Karl Marx's head.

Uzbekistan: Soviet Tashkent picture 7

The city has a large stock of apartment buildings that are unmitigatedly grim, except for the ornamentation of the end walls.

Uzbekistan: Soviet Tashkent picture 8

Another instance, with something that looks like a spaceship at takeoff. 

Uzbekistan: Soviet Tashkent picture 9

Another example.  Give an engineer a compass and a straightedge and--presto!--he'll give you art.

Uzbekistan: Soviet Tashkent picture 10

Few of the buildings allude to traditional patterns of ornament, but here's one that tries.

Uzbekistan: Soviet Tashkent picture 11

Another has distinctly non-traditional figurative ornament.

Uzbekistan: Soviet Tashkent picture 12

If you want the endwalls to look good, just compare them with the main facades.


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