1902 Encyclopedia > Moscow > Moscow Climate, Water Supply, Population, Commerce

(Part 2)


The climate of Moscow is cold and continental, but healthy. The average annual temperature is 40º·1 Fahr. (January, 14º; July, 66º·5º). The summer is warm (64º·2), and the winter cold and dry (15º·8), great masses of snow covering the streets. The spring, as is usually the case in cold continental climates, is beautiful. The prevailing winds are south-west and south. The river Moskva is frozen, on the average, for 153 days (from 12th November to 13th April).

Besides the Moskva and the Yauza, Moscow is watered also by the Neglinnaya, which now flows in an underground channel under the walls of the Kremlin. The city has about 200 ponds, The Moskva is crossed by five bridges; a branch of it, or rather a channel, makes an elongated island in the centre of the town. Water of excellent quality, principally from the Mytischi springs and ponds, 11 miles distant, is led to fountains in different parts of the town, whence it is taken by watermen. But this supply amounts only to 1,865,000 gallons a day, and the great mass of the inhabitants make use of the contaminated water of the Moskva and even of the Yauza, or of private wells.

The population of Moscow, which is steadily increasing, is estimated at 670,000; but an accurate census has not yet been made. In the middle of the 18th century it was estimated at only 150,000; in 1812, at 250,000 in summer and 400,000 in water. In 1864 it was estimated (probably under the truth) at 365,000. The inhabitants are mostly Great-Russians, and only about 6000 are foreigners. They chiefly belong to the Greek Church, or are nonconformists, the number of Lutherans and Catholics being only 8000 to 9000.

The mortality is the very great: in 1879 and 1880 it reached 37·9 and 41·8 per thousand (men 39·3; women 43·9), and usually exceed the birth-rate. Moscow, moreover, is often visited by epidemics which immensely increase the mortality, in consequence of the almost entire absence of sanitary regulations. Fires are very frequent; within ten years (1870-1879) they numbered 2492, the loss being estimated at £2,865,300.

Since the 14th century Moscow has been an important commercial city. Its merchants carried on a brisk trade with Novgorod and Pskov, with Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Constantinople, Azoff, and Astrakhan. About the end of the 15th century its princes transported to Moscow, Vladimir, and other Russian towns no fever than 18,000 of the richest Novgorod merchant families, and took over the entire trade of that city, entering into direct relations with Narva and Livonia.

Shops of the Gostinoy Dvors of Moscow astonished foreign visitors in the 16th century by their large supply of foreign wares, and by the low prices at which the products of western Europe were sold -- a circumstance explained by the barter character of the trade.

The annexation of Kazan and the conquest of Siberia gave a new importance to Moscow, bringing it into direct commercial relations with Khiva, Bokhara, and China, and supplying it with Siberian Furs, The fur-trade engrossed the minds of all European merchants in the 16th century, and an English company, "The Mystery," having received the monopoly of the Archangel trade, caused the traffic to be sent by the White Sea instead of the Baltic.

Moscow thus became the centre for nearly the whole trade of Russian, and the czar himself engaged in large commercial operations. All boyars, and the church too, were traders; and the poorest Moscow merchants participated in the trade through their corporations. Persians, Greeks, Armenians, Swedes, English, Germans, and Lithuanians had each its own Gostinoy Dvor (or caravanserai).

Situated at the junction of six important highways (along which communication was maintained by special yamshiks), Moscow was the great storehouse and exchange-mart for the merchandise of Europe and Asia.

The opening of the port at St Petersburg affected its commercial interest unfavourably at first; but the Asiatic and internal trade of Moscow has since then enormously increased. At present it is the chief centre of railway traffic. The revenue of its custom-house was in 1880 double that of St Petersburg (30,000,000 roubles, as against 15,620,000 at St Petersburg and 9,000,000 at Warsaw).

But the home traffic is the most important branch of the Moscow trade. The city is the chief centre for the trade in grain, in hemp, and in oils, sent to the Baltic ports; in tea, brought both by Siberia and by St Petersburg; in sugar, refined there in large quantities; in grocery wares for the supply of more than half Russia and all Siberia; in tallow, skins, wool, metals, timber, wooden wares, and all other produce of the manufactures of middle Russia. No less than 10,000,000 cwts. of corn are annually brought to Moscow, half of which is sent to the Baltic ports. The yearly return of the Moscow trade was estimated at £9,000,000 in 1848, —probably only a half or a third of the real value, which is believed to have been at least trembled since that time.

The quantity of goods carried by the six railways from Moscow to St Petersburg, Yaroslav, Nijni, Ryazan, Kursk, and Brest, amounted in 1878 to 162,342,500 cwts. (out of 635,740,000 for the whole of Russian); and the number of passengers was 8,637,890 (1,263,530 military) out of a total for all Russia of 37,580,880 (civil and military) in that year.

From the 15th century onwards the villages around Moscow were renowned for the variety of small trades they carried on; the first large manufactures in cottons, woollen fabrics, silk, china, and glass in Great Russia appeared at Moscow in the 17th and 18th centuries.

After 1830, in consequence of protection tariffs, the manufactories in the government of Moscow rapidly increased in number; and at present two-thirds of them, or about 1000, annually producing articles to the value of upwards of £10,000,000 (the real production is probably much higher), are concentrated in the capital.

There are at Moscow about 170 cotton-mills, 90 manufactories of woolens, and 70 of silks, the silk manufactured being chiefly Caucasian, although a good deal is also imported from the west; there are also upwards of 20 large tanneries, 50 tobacco-factories, 15 large candle-works, 70 larger workshops in metals, 13 wax-candle works, 30 carriage manufactories, 20 watch manufactories.

The income and expenditure of Moscow in 1882 were respectively 4,921,067 and 6,124,063 roubles, as compared with 4,730,724 and 5,490,433 in 1881.

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