Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pushchino, the Soviet "Science City"

Arriving in town, along "Science Boulevard." Note the skiers!

Today the girls and I went to Pushchino, a city of 20,200 people that's 120 kilometers south of Moscow. It was founded in 1956 as a "Science City" by the Soviet government, a center of scientific research. To this day there are major universities in chemistry, biology and physics there. I know a few people who got their doctorates there, including my boss.

I remember hearing stories back in 1991 about Pushino, about how the KGB was everywhere there to make sure that no secrets were being given away. One of the reasons for creating the city was so that it would be easier to keep an eye on the scientists.

The girls and I drove the two hours to pick up a friend who had spent four days there over New Year's. She was staying with friends of ours, so we had a nice lunch before bundling up her chihuahua and heading home.

I had been curious about the city and it was fun to get out of Moscow. The city is located along the embankment of the Oka River and is an odd mixture of ugly Krushchev cement block construction and beautiful fields and forests. You can see how carefully it was planned out below, even if you don't read Russian; the grey buildings on one side of town are all scientific and the other areas are residential, divided into four mini-neighborhoods:

Here's an example of a research building:

This is what the river looks like in September:

From our friends' home, we could see for miles. Beneath us there were kids sledding and people cross-country skiing. I could see how it could be a really great place to live back when there wasn't a brain drain of intellectuals to the USA and overseas. The kids and I are looking forward to heading back there in warmer months!


Tina in CT said...

Hark - a quaint location outside of Moscow. Wish we'd gone there.

garnet said...

This is so fascinating. A question occurred to me today. How often does the typical ex-pat in Russia travel outside the major cities. I know you've mentioned going out into the countryside to visit people's dachas on occasion, but how often do people typically just go out sightseeing in the country? I guess I ask because that is the major thing to do. There really isn't that much of interest in Nairobi so for vacation / holiday people head to the game parks and other scenic places. Seems like in Russia that doesn't happen so often -- though I can guarantee that your roads to get out into the country are better than ours are. Guess we are pretty desperate people to want out and away.

Annie said...

I can't stand it!

I want to be there!

victor gonzalez said...

Thanks for posting this..I have been in Pushino..I loved the river, the paseos en el bosque and the local people..My wife was born there, she is a pianist and my suegro heads a research Institute..We are living in Mexico now and hope to go back for a visit next year. just outside the town there´s a beauatiful Hotel and Spa with luxurius cabañas and bañas to rent ...Cheers!

kristinah said...

hi I have a question for you. I lived in pushino the few years ago now. And then I was adopted to america 7 years ago . my grandma still living there and I know the address to her. I've been trying to send her letters from here but I never get anything back. so I was wondering if you could help me and send her a letter from where you are in russian . please let me know thank you

victor gonzalez said...

Hi, as an alternative to Kristinah, my father and mother in law live in pushino, so if you let us know your grandma name and address im sure they could check if she still lives there, Im sure they will do it more than glady. Regards and apologies to the owner of the blog for using it for this.

kristinah said...

Could u pls email me at thx.