A look back at Hay Square in some rare old photographs.
Back in the Spring of 1896, a Czech photographer, Frantisek Kratky, visited St. Petersburg, Russia for the coronation of Russia’s last Czar, Nicholas II. While there he made images of the area in stereographs and a color process called Autochromes. Many photographers visited St. Petersburg with it’s many monuments and as the center of Russian culture since 1703 when Peter the Great founded St. Petersburg as his capital for Russia. The Soviets moved the capital back to Moscow in 1917.
Before motion pictures autochromes were used to share color images. Potato starch and dyes were embedded in the films to create transparencies. These in turn could be projected and shared with many others at once.
Many of the dyes faded with light from projection and the passage of time, but thanks to preserving them in digital form they continue to enlighten us about times gone by.
Sennaya Ploschad was the biggest market in St. Petersburg when Peter the Great was building his capital. People outside the city would bring in firewood, hay, vegetables. eggs and other wares to sell.
The name Sennaya Ploschad means Hay Square and perhaps today we would call it a farmer’s market.
At that time it was also considered home to the bottom of the social classes. Dostoevsky lived in several places around the square and it was the setting for several of his stories, notably, “Crime and punishment.”
George Grantham Bain ran a news service out of New York and published the image from the turn of the century below. It is uncertain whether Bain took this photo or collected it from another to publish.
Before photographs many publishers published engravings, often collecting them into books to share the world to European and American readers. This engraving from France by Perro in 1841 show Sennaya Ploschad before the large market buildings were erected.
Read more about the history of Sennaya Ploschad.
More about George Grantham Bain collection.
More on Frantisek Kratky
Autochromes were in wide use, especially by the National Geographic Society, until Kodachrome (1925) and other film processes replaced them. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/01/150131-pictures-autochrome-color-photography-history-people-culture/