Ca. 1910s. Ca. 26x34,5 cm. Twelve album leaves. Ninety-six mounted gelatin silver prints, each ca. 7x10 cm. No captions. Period brown quarter faux leather album with paper boards, rubbed on extremities, corners slightly bumped. Several images slightly faded, but overall a very good album.
Interesting album of rare photos of Blagoveshchensk, the centre of the Russian Amur oblast and an important port on the Amur River located just about 500 meters from Chinese city of Heihe on the right bank of the river. Blagoveshchensk was founded on the confluence of the Amur and Zeya Rivers in 1858 and became an important trade center in the early 20th century due to the lucrative gold extraction industry on the river and the proximity to the state border with China. The main street of Blagoveshchensk – Bolshaya – accommodated the offices of the main Siberian trade houses, the port numbered over 150 steamers and over 200 barges. In the course of the Russian Civil War (1918-1922) the city was occupied by Japanese troops for two years. In the 1980s Blagoveschensk was a closed city, and visits without special permission were not allowed. The construction of the international automobile bridge over the Amur River started in 2016. The bridge is going to connect Blagoveschensk and Heihe on the Chinese side by 2019.
The photos in the album were apparently taken by a well-off Blagoveshchensk resident, and include over a dozen views of the Bolshaya Street (now Lenina Street), showing Kunst and Albers department store (built in 1894, one image shows the store with the sign “Christmas fair”), Siberian Trade Bank, Trade house “Kokovin and Basov,” Torgovaya Square (now Victory Square) with open air wooden pavilions, shops of I.K. [?] Mazur, V.M. Pankov, Matveyenko bros., “Japanese shop Tokio-Yoko, goldsmith,” garden supplies shop, first city electric station “Vseobshchaya Kompaniya Elektrichestva” (built in 1908), Cathedral of the Intercession of the Theotokos (demolished in 1980, new cathedral of different design built in 1997-2002), Alexeyevskaya school for girls (on the corner of Bolshaya Street and American side-street), entrance to the Voznesenskoye cemetery with an Orthodox Christian chapel (built in 1872, demolished in the 1930s), and others. There are also interesting views of the Triumphal Arch (built in 1891) and trade house “Mauritania” on the embankment of the Amur River, several photos of the steamers on the river (with two signs reading “Andrey” and “Peterburg”), views of the city embankment (showing cannons pointed towards the state border, frozen Amur, timber piles on shore), Amur River banks and villages on the Chinese side, Russian customs house, portraits of Chinese cart drivers, brick makers, Russian peasants et al. The album closes with three images of an open air church sermon and a church procession and over twenty portraits of Blagoveshchensk residents – apparently, the album compiler and his family.