Where will you find a store that is not only a shopping center but a real landmark of the city? Answer is simple: in Moscow, opposite to the Kremlin, other side of Red square; and it is called the State Department Store (GUM).
Today it is an impressive building spread along Red square parallel to the Kremlin walls. It is divided by three long arcades on the whole height of construction. The construction began in the 17th century when the centre of trading life was formed in Moscow.
Once on the place of the present GUM there were wooden shops that were put disorderly right on the edge of Red Square. But they burned frequently and therefore the square was called the Fire at that time. After one of such fires the stone buildings were built along Red Square. They were called the Upper, Middle and Lower Trading Rows. However, fire accidents have happened frequently as well because the same wooden shops were built behind the new trading center. In spite of this Fire market was the trading centre in Moscow of the past.
In 1815 a new building of the Upper Trading Rows was build. It occupied the area of entire quarter. The architect of this prominent project was a talented Russian architect of Italian origin O.I. Bove, who was famous for the reconstruction of Moscow after the fire of 1812. But the building was not maintained in proper condition. It resulted in its emergency state. Traders were to blame for this, because they did not want to pay money for repairs.
After many years of proceedings between shop owners and the Moscow City Duma, in 1880 it was decided to create a joint-stock company “The Upper Trading Rows”. It took them several years to arrange the key issues, to make the charter and to work out projects to reconstruct the building. By the way, the Charter of this joint stock company was approved by Tsar Alexander III.
Old decrepit shops were demolished on May 15, 1888. The joint stock company announced a tender. And the project of new building for the Upper Trading Rows represented by A. Pomerantcev, a famous innovator in the Russian architecture of 19-20 centuries won this tender. The foundation of new building was laid on May 21, 1980 and finally the enormous building was constructed The opening ceremony was held on December 1, 1983.
In a moment “The Upper Trading Rows” became the favourite place of all Moscow residents. People came here with all family members. In total, there were over 300 shops offering various goods. To attract more visitors, the complex included a branch bank, post office, jewellery shop, hairdressing saloon and even a restaurant. The construction and decoration also played important role. It was the Pseudo-Russian style of architecture and semicircular glass roofs of passages created under the project of outstanding architect engineer V. Shukhov. It was one of the most beautiful and modern buildings oof late 19th century in Moscow.
After the October Revolution things have changed a great deal. As well as any property in the country The Upper Trading Rows were nationalized and later closed. The building space was used for various offices and the infrastructure was destroyed. Again shops opened its doors only in 1921. And the trading complex was renamed to GUM. Though it didn’t have that luxury and charm, and shops sold mainly writing materials. In addition, various organizations still worked in former shops.
Until 1953 GUM languished in poverty. Several times they wanted to demolish it, but it survived. After Stalin’s death new government decided to restore the trade, and major part of organizations, which have been working there for 30 years, were removed. The overhaul was commenced, and the range of goods was expanded up to 30 thousand items. So, 1953 was the year of second birth of GUM. 100 years later GUM again was converted to the Joint stock company. And today this trading complex is developing. It contains shops and boutiques of leading world brands. As some time ago it has modern trading and entertaining infrastructure, Moscow residents and guests come here not only to do shopping but also to have a good time in company of friends. GUM is the integral part of big city life.