Plans And Emblems Of The Cities Of The Russian Empire Of The 18th – 19th Centuries Published On The Geoportal Of The Russian Geographical Society

Гербы городов Брацлавского наместничества Российской Империи. Иллюстрация из Полного собрания законов Российской империи
Гербы городов Брацлавского наместничества Российской Империи. Изображение с Геопортала РГО

On the Geoportal of the Russian Geographical Society, a valuable source on the topography of populated places of Russia of the 18th-19th centuries was published: emblems and plans of cities of 45 guberniyas and vicegerencies of the Russian Empire. 387 cities are marked on a special interactive map for the convenience of users. When you click on a city of interest, you can see its plan and emblem with links to the catalog.

The work on the preparation of city plans was carried out in 1765-1836, during the General Land Surveying of the Russian Empire. Surveying was accompanied by the collection of data on the number of souls, quitrent, corvee and other indicators of the economic condition of uyezds and guberniyas. The established boundaries (“mezhas”) of land plots were reflected on the plans, some of which were subsequently included in the “Complete Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire”. In total, three collections were compiled, issued from 1830 to 1916. On the Geoportal of the Russian Geographical Society, city plans of the first collection of the 1839 edition are published.


План города Александрова Владимирского наместничества
План города Александрова Владимирского наместничества. Изображение с Геопортала РГО

Each plan is given a brief legend indicating the objects of urban infrastructure - churches, shops, mills, etc. The old wooden districts are marked with thin dashed lines, and new districts are superimposed on them. New districts with stone buildings are marked in brown color. And yellow color marks the wooden districts reserved for state and common houses. The presence in the plan of the old and new layouts makes it possible to see the city with the old irregular and new ordered street structure.

The plans are oriented differently. This is why the direction of the north is indicated separately for each sheet. The scale is also not the same for different plans, but there is an established scale variation wich should be used to make a plan: 100, 150, 200, 250 and 300 sazhens per inch. This approach allows you to place on the standard book sheet city plans that vary greatly in their actual size.

The emblems of cities are presented in a separate volume. On the emblems of uyezd cities, as a rule, appears the emblem of the guberniya city to indicate administrative affiliation. Since the publication did not use colored paints, the authors were able to convey the color using hatching. For example, red is shown in vertical hatching, blue in horizontal with dashed lines, and yellow in dots on a white background


Изображение с Геопортала РГО
Изображение с Геопортала РГО

Using the map published on the Geoportal of the Russian Geographical Society, you can trace the general pattern of the population distribution of the country at the time of publication of the book. The highest concentration of people is observed within the European part of Russia, decreasing as you move from west to east.

Note, that in many cities of Russia, to this day, traces of the layout of the General Land Surveying period have been preserved. Materials published on the Geoportal of the Russian Geographical Society are of great value for researching the development of cities and their structure.