Communal Living in Russia: Photos
Archive: Stairwells and balconies: A partially broken banister
  Summary
  A broken banister in a historical building. 1997.
  Basic Facts and Background
  When: 1997

Where: The kitchen of a communal apartment in a five-story building on Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt, in the prestigious historical center of St. Petersburg. There are four apartments on this staircase, all of them communal.

What: The house was constructed between 1913 and 1918, when this prestigious neighborhood was built up with apartment buildings for tenants of means. This house is listed as an architectural monument, although its state of dirt and disrepair is obvious.

Until the early 1990s, the wooden railings had black-lacquered balusters. Starting in the mid 1950s, the entryway was no longer locked. In the 1990s, this led to destruction and dirt: drug addicts, drunks, and homeless people came in from the street and started spending time here. They left filth on the staircase, scrawled graffiti onto the artificial marble walls and broke the banister.

For several years after the balusters on several landings were kicked off, the staircase remained in this dangerous condition. Later boards were nailed in (they can be seen in the left half of the photo).

The part of the staircase shown here goes up to the fifth floor. It is quite high because of high ceilings. A fall from here would probably be fatal.

On the right is part of the elevator shaft.

This staircase can be seen in videoclips "Stairwell" (Tours 1 and 2) and in the photograph "A repaired banister."

For credits, copyright, and contact information please see the "About" page at Communal Living in Russia: A Virtual Museum of Soviet Everyday Life, http://russlang.as.cornell.edu/komm/.