Tomsk Siberia, San Francisco 1950
Walking to Rubius this morning and I couldn’t help but take a look at the nice wooden architecture and it reminded me of San Francisco.
Now most all of us know that the USA purchased Alaska from Russia but very few of us know that San Francisco once was Russia’s Provencal capital in the Americas (I believe from 1822–1832).
Not only that, we also forgot that one of the fifty US states has a Russian word as its name ‘Oregon’ (ураган) meaning strong wind (there is a longer story to this that I might tell someday) and if any of you have ever been to the coast of Washington or Oregon you might agree with the name.
Russia was at war with Poland in the early 1830's, needed all its military and could no longer afford to maintain its holdings in this part of America, so it called its people back from the colony. It took years for those people, who did return, to make their way back to Russia and to my understanding none of them fought in the war or even made it back to European Russia.
Many of these families, from the colony, were second generation Americans and mostly could only speak English so to this day you can see tombs, with English inscription, scattered throughout Siberia from Nakhodka (once America Bay), Irkutsk to Krasnoyarsk of the families that came back from the America’s to Russia. The most famous tombstones with English inscription are in the graveyard at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Krasnoyarsk.
At one time, Tomsk, was a country in itself, holding most of Central northern Asia, before 1604 when it ceded itself to Rus (Russia) for protection. During the early 1800’s Tomsk put out some of the finest architects in the world and many of the once older building (I assume they were either leveled or burnt down in 1906) in San Francisco were the designs of Tomskovites.
Some of the great plans between the USA, Germany and Russia (yes we also forget that Russia and the USA were the best of friends before Teddy Roosevelt) were to build railways across the continents to compete with Great Britain’s control over the world’s oceans. The Trans-Siberian never ran through Tomsk and the story is that they grew more and finer wheat (red wheat) than southern Russia (now Ukraine) and Moscow didn’t want the competition.
Tomsk (the third largest economy per capita in Russia) still contends with Moscow. Yes in the world it is 339 place, as an innovative city but when you consider just a few things: satellites, which country in the world has more satellites in space than the whole world combined and where does this technology for these satellites come from? Russian Jet Fighters bomb more accurately (check the latest war in Syria) than any US bomber by a device that cost less than fifteen thousand $, who designed this technology? Twenty-five years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and with the growth of capitalism, in Russia, Tomsk is beginning to resemble San Francisco of the 1950's.
Life is a wonderful walk through time.
Ron the Siberian
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